After all the tape study, the combine measurements/workouts, some pro-days, and re-watching of tape, there has been slight movement in the post combine safety rankings.
Jayson Braddock and Dory LeBlanc 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., 6’1” 213 Lbs. – Four out of our first five safeties are either from Alabama or South Carolina. Two of them were corners in college but would transition perfectly to safeties. Barron is the cream of the crop though. He’s battle tested against the toughest amateur competition on the planet and proven. EVEN
2. Dre Kirkpatrick – SS/FS – Alabama, Jr., 6’2” 186 Lbs. – Kirkpatrick is one of the most versatile defensive backs in this class. He could either play as a zone corner, free, or strong safety. He’s a lengthy, big corner that reacts immediately. Due to his talent and flexibility we considered making him the number 1 safety. EVEN
3. Stephon Gilmore – FS – South Carolina, Jr., 6’0” 190 Lbs. – Gilmore compares similarly to Kirkpatrick. The more he impresses people as a corner, the more we are impressed as a safety. He doesn’t have the hips to stick with NFL receivers in man coverage but he would easily take out the increase play of tight ends and patrol a general area with the best of them. +2
4. Harrison Smith – SS – Notre Dame, rSr., 6’2” 213 Lbs. – Smith’s fluidity has impressed us from the beginning but we still have fear of some of his conservative play. If he was to get in the right system and let an NFL coaching staff direct how to use his skill set, he could become amazing. Rex Ryan would turn this kid into a Pro Bowler. +5
5. Antonio Allen – SS – South Carolina, rSr., 6’1” 210 Lbs. – We can’t figure out why there isn’t much buzz surrounding Allen. We love everything he does. He has the ability to cover like a corner and even held Orson Charles to 0 catches earlier this year. He displays a physical nature, tackles well, uses his length and crazy arms to take away receiving threats. He was used mostly as a hybrid safety / linebacker and didn’t get to display his coverage ability that often but when he did, he left no questions. -2
6. Trumaine Johnson – FS – Montana, Sr., 6’2” 204 Lbs. – Obviously, playing in Montana will bring up concerns about his level of competition but his film put that to rest. There were some off-field issues as well. Teams that are comfortable with his character and raw areas, will look to develop as a play making safety. EVEN
7. George Iloka – FS – Boise State, Sr., 6’4” 225 Lbs. – Iloka is a bigger version of Johnson, without the same coverage skills. Iloka can still cover but he’s not as fluid as Trumaine when it comes to covering shiftier receivers. He’s a big guy that can cover ground and take away mismatches against the wave of elite 6’4+ receivers in the NFL. He fits with the trend that the Seahawks use. -3
8. Duke Ihenacho – SS – San Jose State, rSr., 6’0” 213 Lbs. – It’s obvious that we like our strong safeties to not only hit but be able to cover as well. In this new,pass first league, that also disciplines almost every vicious hits, teams have to find safeties that have more coverage ability than intimidation of a physical nature. Duke fits the criteria. -1
9. Terrance Frederick – FS, Texas A&M, rSr., 5’10” 187 Lbs. – A lot of talk was surrounding Coryell Judie at A&M but Frederick is the player that stuck out to us. Terrance doesn’t have the size of most of our safeties but he’s proven time and time again that he can take away the bigger guys and those that are more athletic. +2
10. Markelle Martin – FS – Oklahoma State, rSr., 6’1” 207 Lbs. – Martin is one of those players that scare us. He doesn’t always show up. When he does, he can make plays for a team and win them games. We feel that he falls best here as the risk would be worth the possible rewards. -2
Jayson Braddock is an NFL Scout / NFL Writer & On-Air Personality. Jayson is also a football insider for the Dylan Gwinn show on 790 AM in Houston, TX - Listeners NOT in the Houston metropolitan area can hear Jayson on iheart radio or sports790.com. You can also catch Jayson on Sirius XM Fantasy Sports Radio with Scott Engel and the morning crew every Thursday at 10:30am ET. You may email Jayson directly @ firstname.lastname@example.org or follow him on Twitter @JaysonBraddock