They used extensive criteria that included (but was not limited to) read & react skills, man coverage, zone coverage, run support, tackling, physical makeup, physicality, and productivity into determining how those attributes translate to the NFL.
The ten-best prospects at the safety (combined) position are:
1. Mark Barron – SS – Alabama, Sr., 6’2” 218Lbs. Highly active and effective. He looks to be involved on every play. He’s NFL ready from day one.
2. Dre Kirkpatrick – S/FS – Alabama, Jr., 6’2” 192 Lbs. – In a weak safety class, a team could draft Kirkpatrick for his unique skill set. He’s capable of playing zone cornerback, free or strong safety for them.
3. Antonio Allen – SS – South Carolina, rSr., 6’1” 202 Lbs. – He uses his long arms as weapons and causes match up problems everywhere. He’s strong against the run and can cover like a corner but needs to add bulk to his frame.
4. George Iloka – FS – Boise State, Sr., 6’3” 222 Lbs. – He uses his size to his advantage. Extremely fluid for a guy of his size. He will be an asset on defense when helping on the bigger, more physical receivers.
5. Stephon Gilmore – FS – South Carolina, Jr., 6’1” 193 Lbs. – A team would be wise to play Gilmore towards his strengths, instead of trying to fix his weaknesses.
6. Trumaine Johnson – FS – Montana, Sr., 6’2” 204 Lbs. -A play maker that will benefit from being allowed to roam and react to what the offense does.
7. Duke Ihenacho – SS – San Jose State, rSr., 6’0” 212 Lbs. – You will always know when Duke is on the field…who ever thought that sentence would ever be written in an article about football.
8. Markelle Martin – FS – Oklahoma State, rSr., 6’1” 203 Lbs. – He’s not a liability as a team’s last line of defense but he won’t excite them either. Reliable .
9. Harrison Smith – SS – Notre Dame, rSr., 6’2” 212 Lbs. – Has a knack of being in the right place at the right time. He doesn’t have that WOW factor but he can definitely help a defense out and make plays when needed.
10. Winston Guy – SS – Kentucky, Sr., 6’1” 216 Lbs. – A SEC sleeper that has the experience against NFL talent. Creates action instead of waiting for it. In a game of inches, that makes all the difference.
Combining both Free and Strong Safeties means some worthy candidates from both are left out. These are the players that easily would have made the top ten if we broke them into subcategories, and we will be keeping a close eye on:
a. Ryan Steed – FS, Furman, Sr., 5’10” 190 Lbs.
b. Terrance Frederick – FS, Texas A&M, rSr., 5’10” 187 Lbs.
c. Aaron Henry – FS, Wisconsin, rSr., 6’0” 208Lbs.
d. Brandon Taylor – SS, LSU, Sr., 5’11” 202 Lbs.
e. Janzen Jackson – FS, McNeese State, Jr., 5’11” 189 Lbs.
Dory LeBlanc, covers Gator sports for Gators First and BourbonMeyer.com. Not just a college sports enthusiast, Dory is also a fan of NFL, NHL, NBA, and MLB. Born outside Philly, she moved to Tampa, and now resides in Illinois, giving her a broad perspective on the sporting world. You can follow Dory on twitter @DoryLeBlanc