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2011 NFL Draft - Ranking Safeties No. 11-30
Posted Apr 25, 2011

From a college football perspective, here's the ranking of all the top safety prospects.

2011 NFL Draft Position Rankings

Safeties - No. 11-25

By Pete Fiutak

- 2011 NFL Safety Rankings - Top Ten

11. Shiloh Keo, Idaho (SS) 5-11, 219
A terrific college player who went almost completely unnoticed, he did a little of everything for an abysmal Vandal defense. A great baller, he’s not fast and he doesn’t have the raw measureables, but he’s extremely quick, a great hitter, and he’s as experienced as any player in the draft with 54 games logged in. Extremely strong, he came up with 24 reps on the bench and he brings the A effort on every play, but he needs to get in better overall shape and can only function close to the line. A below-the-rim player who won’t do provide much help on deep plays and in pass coverage, there’s a limit on what he can do. There’s a little bit of an attitude issue and he’ll be a bit limited to just being a strong safety in the right scheme, but he’ll make a ton of plays and he’ll be a big part of a run defense.
CFN Projection: Fourth Round

12. Jermale Hines, Ohio State (SS) 6-1, 219
Part defensive back, part linebacker, he’s a rock against the run with big-time hitting ability. He might not be all that fast, but he moves well enough for what he has to do. While he goes for the highlight reel pop way too often when the routing play would do, he misses too many easy stops. Not much in pass coverage and not instinctive when the ball is in the air, he’s only good for a run defense that needs a popper in the defensive backfield. Special teams will be his calling early on, but his future as a possible starter only depends on his ability to show something against a decent passing attack.
CFN Projection: Fifth Round

13. Joe Lefeged, Rutgers (SS) 6-0, 210
While he’s a good defender who’s always making things happen, his real worth is as a special teamer with a phenomenal knack for coming up with blocked kicks while also having the speed and quickness to work as a returner. Smooth, he runs extremely well, breaking off a 4.43 at the Combine, and has the raw athleticism to work at either safety spot. While he’s not awful against the pass, he doesn’t have special ball skills and, defensively, he doesn’t do any one thing all that well. He only picked off two passes in 50 games of work, and it would be nice if he was a bit bigger, but he’s too good on special teams and too good an athlete to not be a key part of a roster.
CFN Projection: Fourth Round

14. Will Hill, Florida (FS) 6-1, 202 (Jr.)
The talent is there and the skills are unquestioned, but it’s all about his character. A phenomenal recruit, even by Florida standards, he’s big, fast, and extremely smooth with all the tools if someone is willing to be patient and if he gets the right coaching. A willing hitter and a good special teamer, athletically there’s a place for him on any roster as a versatile playmaker. There’s a great chance he could be a far better pro than a collegian, starting just 15 times in three disappointing years, but he has to keep his ego in check and has to prove he has the character and the make-up to finally, finally, maximize all his talent. He has three kids, was suspended for a stretch, and was out of the mix way too often, but the upside is limitless … if he can manage to not blow it.
CFN Projection: Fifth Round

15. DeJon Gomes, Nebraska (SS) 5-11, 208
Ultra-aggressive and very tough against the run, he worked a bit as an outside linebacker at times and always held up well against the run. He’ll make every stop in the open field and he’s more than willing to get his nose dirty to make the top play. The lack of athleticism is an issue and he’s not going to do much of anything against the pass, and while he hits like a linebacker, he also runs a bit like one. It would be nice if he was about 20 pounds heavier, but he’s not and will be limited to working as a top special teamer early on. Even so, he could find a role as a first down run defender.
CFN Projection: Sixth Round

16. Tejay Johnson, TCU (FS) 6-0, 212
A great leader on a terrific defense, that might not have been his Horned Frog D over the last few years, but that sure as shoot was his secondary. Very experienced and very smart, he could become a whale of a nickel or dime back with the smarts and the toughness to always be in the right position. He’s not a great hitter and he’s not going to do quite enough against the pass, but he’s a better football player than an athlete and he’ll be able to hold his own without a problem.
CFN Projection: Free Agent

17. David Sims, Iowa State (SS) 5-9, 200
Made a ton of plays for the Cyclones as a statistical machine who cleaned up mess after mess, he’s a terrific tackler who’s great at coming up with the right plays at the right time. Strong, he’s like a linebacker playing safety and can jump out of the stadium. A pure leader, there won’t be any questioning his desire or his want-to. However, he’s about to turn 25 and has about a three-inch ceiling on what he can become. He’s not great in pass defense and he doesn’t move as well as he should considering his terrific athleticism. If all he’s asked to do is stop the run, he’ll be effective. Anything else and he’ll be a disappointment.
CFN Projection: Sixth Round

18. Mark LeGree, Appalachian State (FS) 5-11, 210
A tremendous ball-hawk, he could be a very cheap pickup who could shine as a fifth defensive back or a top nickel defender. He’s not an elite athlete and he doesn’t do anything against the run, but he has some of the best ball skills of any safety in the draft intercepting everything that came his way. A tweener, he’s not going to hit well enough to be a strong safety and he’s not a blazer who can start at free safety and not be exposed. He’ll sit in the middle of a secondary and he’ll pick off plenty of passes on lazy throws, but he won’t be around long if he’s not on the field on third downs and if he’s not great on special teams.
CFN Projection: Free Agent

19. Nate Williams, Washington (SS) 6-0, 211
He’s just too slow. While he’s a terrific tackler, and he seemed to always get in on every play against the run, he doesn’t move well enough to be on an NFL field on passing downs. He’s a great pure football player, but he ran close to a 4.8 at the Combine and he just doesn’t seem to be quick enough to hang with any receiver. Yes, he was a great college player, but his skills just don’t translate to the pros. He has to be used close to the line and he has to be a pure run defender. Anything else and he’ll get picked apart.
CFN Projection: Free Agent.

20. Da'Norris Searcy, North Carolina (SS) 5-11, 223
With great size and excellent strength, he has the raw ability to be a great strong safety against the run … potentially. He came up with 27 reps on the bench and he checked in at a huge 223 pounds, but he’s not all that athletic and he didn’t make nearly enough plays in college. Not good against the pass and he doesn’t move as well as he should for a player who can return kicks, but he’s always around the ball; he just isn’t the one making the stop. With a great make-up and coachable character, he’ll do whatever is asked of him and could be a tough cut. He’ll work hard on special teams to stick on a squad … barely.
CFN Projection: Fifth Round

21. Chris Conte, California (FS) 6-2, 197
Big and fast, he has the frame with a long, lean build that’s perfect for an NFL free safety. With decent straight-line speed and the ability to get to the ball in a hurry, he makes plenty of plays and is strong against the run. Always around the play, his effort and efficiency get the job done. He’s not the best of athletes and he doesn’t bring a lot of pop to his hits. Just okay in pass coverage, he doesn’t come up with the big plays needed, and he ended up working as a strong safety at the end of last year. He doesn’t have the NFL tools, but he should be solid in nickel and dime packages.
CFN Projection: Free Agent

22. Eric Hagg, Nebraska (FS) 6-1, 209
Very big and athletic enough to be considered a decent prospect at any safety spot, he has the ability to push people around, and he has the speed to be decent in pass coverage. What he doesn’t do is play up to his size, and while he managed to make plenty of things happen with teams were staying away from Prince Amukamara, he was also the weak link at times. With great fire to be a player and good character, he’s the type of player coaches love to have. Now he has to find the right fit for a free safety who’s better as a finesse run stopper than a pass defender.
CFN Projection: Sixth Round

23. Zac Etheridge, Auburn (SS) 5-11, 201
A hard-nosed, tough, coachable safety, he isn’t afraid to try to do all the little things right. He’s used to playing at the highest of levels and he’s used to producing as a good run stopper who brings the A effort every time out. What he doesn’t have is elite athleticism and mediocre ball skills, and while he tackles like a linebacker, he also runs like one. More than anything else, health and durability will always be a concern considering he suffered a frightening neck injury three years ago. He’s lucky to be walking much less playing football at an NFL level.
CFN Projection: Free Agent

24. Jay Valai, Wisconsin (SS) 5-8, 203
While he’s way undersized, he’s quick, experienced, and doesn’t make a ton of mistakes. He plays much bigger than his size and he’s as strong a tackler as they come. A pure leader, he was the main force for a good defensive back seven and helped out a ton against gambling, suspect corners. The problem will be durability. Size is enough of an issue, but he couldn’t stay healthy and college and sure won’t ever be 100% at the next level. While he’s tough, he’ll get erased by anyone who blocks him.
CFN Projection: Free Agent

25. Andrew Rich, BYU (SS, FS) 6-3, 213
Very productive and very experienced, Rich was always around the ball and he always likes to get in the play against the tougher running teams. Tough as nails, he brings the lumber like a linebacker and he can intimidate. At 6-3 and 213 pounds, he looks the part and has the frame to get even bigger. Not exactly a big hitter for his size, he’s a good tackler, but not a blow-him-up type. Considering he’s not all that quick, he’s not going to be a free safety and has to only be used against the run.
CFN Projection: Fee Agent

26. Dom DeCicco, Pitt (SS)
27. Davonte Shannon, Buffalo (SS)
28. Javes Lewis, Oregon (FS)
29. Johnny Brown, Ole Miss (SS)
30. Jeremy Kellem, Middle Tennessee (FS)

- 2011 NFL Safety Rankings - Top Ten