2013 NFL Draft - Safeties

Posted Apr 21, 2013

From a college football perspective, the analysis of the top safety prospects.

2013 NFL Draft Position Rankings


By Pete Fiutak
Follow Us ... @ColFootballNews 

2013 NFL Draft Analysis
- Quarterbacks | Running Backs | Receivers
- Offensive Tackles | Offensive Guards | Centers
- Defensive Ends | Inside LBs | Outside LBs
- Cornerbacks | 2012 Safeties

- 2013 Safety Rankings - No. 11-25

2014 Top S Prospects

Free Safeties
1. Hasean Clinton-Dix, Alabama (Jr.)
2. Tevin McDonald, UCLA (Jr.)
3. Ed Reynolds, Stanford (Jr.)
4. Derron Smith, Fresno State (Jr.)
5. Nickoe Whitley, Miss St
6. C.J. Barnett, Ohio State
7. Kenny Ladler, Vanderbilt
8. Ty Zimmerman, Kansas State
9. Karlos Williams, Florida State (Jr.)
10. Calvin Pryor, Louisville (Jr.)
11. Mark Joyce, South Florida
12. Avery Sebastian, California (Jr.)
13. Marco Nelson, Tulsa
14. Roland Martin, LSU (Jr.)
15. Alden Darby, Arizona St

Strong Safeties
1. Isaiah Lewis, Michigan State
2. Kyshoen Jarrett, Virginia Tech (Jr.)
3. Corey Moore, Georgia (Jr.)
4. Craig Loston, LSU
5. Hakeem Smith, Louisville
6. Vinnie Sunseri, Alabama (Jr.)
7. Micah Eugene, LSU (Soph.)
8. Sean Parker, Washington
9. Lamarcus Joyner, Florida State
10. Howard Matthews, Texas A&M (Jr.)
11. Ahmad Dixon, Baylor
12. Sam Carter, TCU (Jr.)
13. Brian Blechen, Utah
14. Jordan Richards, Stanford (Jr.)
15. Tre Boston, North Carolina
*Not eligible until 2015
2012 CFN Prospect Rankings & Breakdowns
- QBs | RBs | WRs | TEs
- Cs | OTs | OGs | DTs
- ILBs | OLBs | CBs | Ss

2011 CFN Prospect Rankings & Breakdowns
- QBs | RBs | FBs | WRs
- TEs | OTs | OGs | Cs 
- OLBs | ILBs | DTs | DEs
- CBs | Ss  

2010 CFN Position Rankings & Analysis

- QBs | RBs | WRs | TEs
- Cs | OTs | OGs | DEs
- DTs | ILBs | OLBs
- Ss | CBs
This Class Is … good, but the talent level drops off fast.

Eric Reid of LSU, Kenny Vaccaro of Texas, Matt Elam of Florida and Jonathan Cyprien of FIU should all be ready to go right out of the box, but then comes the guessing with several nice prospects, but a lot of guesswork.

Oklahoma's Tony Jefferson is a fine tackler, but is he ready to handle the full-time workload as a pass defender? Fresno State's Phillip Thomas was a premier collegiate ballhawker, but does he have the speed and quickness to be as dangerous against the top targets? Is Oregon's John Boyett and Syracuse's Shamarko Thomas healthy enough? Can Notre Dame's Jamoris Slaughter hold up and get to 100%, and can Zeke Motta overcome his limitations to be consistent?

There's value in the middle rounds, but unlike the last few seasons, there are finally safeties worth drafting up top.

The Best Value Pick Will Be … Tony Jefferson, Oklahoma
Most Underrated … Phillip Thomas, Fresno State
Most Overrated … Damion Stafford, Nebraska
The Deep, Deep Sleeper Is … Rontez Miles, California - Pennsylvania

1. Eric Reid, LSU (Jr.) (FS) 6-1, 213
A pure baller, he's a good, sound veteran who can rattle receiver with his huge hits. A leader among pro caliber defensive backs, he's the quarterback who knows where everyone needs to be as he sees the game four steps ahead of everything else. Right for any system and extremely coachable, he'll do whatever is needed to produce. As aggressive as they come, he beats up receivers on the way to get the ball, winning more than his share of battles. Surrounded by superior talent. He was a part of one of the most talented secondaries in college football over the last few years - he didn't have to do as much as other top safeties. While he'll get torched a bit and he tends to go for the big play and pop rather just do the necessary, he has all the skills with great quickness and good enough speed to be a perennial All-Pro. Everything is there to be special.
CFN Projection: Second Round

2. Kenny Vaccaro, Texas (SS) 6-0, 214
Texas defensive backs always look and play NFL-ready, but Vaccaro stands out from the pack. He's not going to be another Earl Thomas, and he's not a blazer, but he's big with good enough versatility to be used in any style as a free or strong safety with big hitting skills and good ball hawking ability. The attitude and moxie aren't a problem, and he's confident whenever it comes time to make a big play. An elite special teamer, he has a bizarre knack for finding the ball on kick blocks. Needing to get functionally stronger, he had a bad offseason with mediocre workouts and not showing enough strength or quickness to think he can be among the elite of the elite defensive playmakers. However, once he turns it on and gets into shape, he'll be a versatile force who'll always be around the ball – but he has to want it.
CFN Projection: Second Round

3. Jonathan Cyprien, FIU (SS) 6-0, 217
The WOW factor is there. He plays fast, talks fast and makes big things happen with superior athleticism and attitude combining to make a near-perfect leader for an NFL secondary. Not only can he move like a corner, but he can jump out of the stadium and muscle up against the bigger more physical targets. Forget that he went to FIU; he's a big-time producer who can handle himself well against top targets. He needs to find the right position as a bit of a safety tweener, and he gets beaten up win his style of play, but he'll be a highlight-reel hitter who'll talk his way into a starting role. Being too aggressive and too feisty isn't necessarily a bad thing.
CFN Projection: Second Round

4. Matt Elam, Florida (Jr.) (FS) 5-10, 208
A top playmaker who produced in big games at the highest level, he more than lived up to his immense prep hype improving year after year. His instincts got better as the game started to slow down for him, and the smarts matched up with his corner speed and huge hitting ability. Disciplined in pass coverage and solid against the run, he can do it all including be a team leader who'll always bring the A effort. A bit too small, he can pop and plays bigger than his size, he's a compact defensive back who doesn't necessarily look the part. Off-the-field issues are going to be a concern, but he's not a bad guy. More splashy than consistent, he'll be a fan favorite and should go to a few Pro Bowls as a regular on the highlight shows.
CFN Projection: Second Round

5. D.J. Swearinger, South Carolina (FS) 5-11, 208
Very smart, very sound and very savvy, he battled through the SEC wars and was a standout on a team full of standout defenders. A huge hitter, he packs a wallop who seems to love getting physical and blasting away to make a point. Not just tough, he's quick both on the field and in workouts, and he makes up for his lack of bulk with outstanding athleticism. Size will be a factor as he's too small and not thick enough, and with no room to get any bigger. He can't freelance a the next level and he needs to be able to keep his emotions and fire in check, but he'll be productive starter who'll rile everyone up – including the opponent – with way too much chatter. He knows what he can do, and he wants everyone else to know, too.
CFN Projection: Second Round

6. Tony Jefferson, Oklahoma (Jr.) (SS) 5-11, 213
One of the best run stopping safeties in the draft, he's like another linebacker working in the secondary. Tough, he isn't afraid to come up with the big hit and seems to relish the responsibility of needing to come through. Ultra-aggressive and self-motivated, he'll be a coaches' favorite and will be a natural leader. The raw speed isn't there and he was shocking weak in the weight room considering his style of play and his production, and he'll have to get functionally stronger. Mediocre when the ball is in the air, he's going to need to be surrounded by speedier players. He's not for every system, but on the right team he'll be one of the leading tacklers.
CFN Projection: Fourth Round

7. Phillip Thomas, Fresno State (FS) 6-1, 208
A peerless ball-hawker and a playmaker, an argument could be made that he was the best defensive back in college football last season with a nation-leading eight interceptions to go along with four sacks. Great with the ball in his hands, he's dangerous at going from being a defensive star to an offensive weapon in a hurry. With great instincts he's always in the right place at the right time and has an uncanny knack for coming up with the right play at the right time. He's not fast and he'll never outrun anyone, but he's functionally athletic and makes up for his shortcomings by never taking a wasted step. He'll need to be surrounded by more athletic and quicker defensive backs, but he can find a starting role in a secondary for the next decade.
CFN Projection: Third Round

8. T.J. McDonald, USC (SS) 6-2, 219
One of the most intimidating hitters in the draft, he's destined to be a force who's involved in several arguments about whether or not he should be fined for hits – he walks an extremely fine line with his style of play. Explosively athletic at times, he gets all over the field in a hurry and is good enough in pass coverage to hold his own. A sure-thing leader who'll make a secondary his, he's the definition of a tone-setter. However, he whiffs way too often and can be ripped apart in space by the craftier runners. While he's hardly a perfect prospect and there might be a slew of major holes in his game and style, he's the type of defensive player you want on your team and in your secondary.
CFN Projection: Third Round

9. Bacarri Rambo, Georgia (SS) 6-1, 211
Terrific at coming up with big plays, he's tough, fast and aggressive to the ball with nice size and a good pop. An intimidator, in the right scheme, he should become a tone-setting force when the ball is in the air. Receivers always have to keep their heads on a swivel when he's around. He might not be quite quick enough, and while he can hit like a linebacker, he occasionally covers like one, too. Yes, he'll apply the big shot to the receiver, but he's just okay when it comes to stepping up against the run. He was suspended for stretches including the season and has to answer a few questions after a failed drug test, but the off-the-field issues aren't that big a deal.
CFN Projection: Third Round

10. Shawn Williams, Georgia (SS) 6-0, 213
A true leader and the type of player you want to be the main man for your defensive backfield, when Georgia players were being suspended left and right last year, he wasn't one of them. He sets the tone both on and off the field and isn't afraid to get in someone's face and ramp up the effort. Extremely strong, he's has great weight room strength that translates to the field. He doesn't cut all that well, but he has tremendous straight-line speed and isn't anything special against the pass, but the intangibles are off the charts.
CFN Projection: Fourth Round

- 2013 Safety Rankings - No. 11-25