2008 NFL Draft - Ranking The Safeties
Miami S Kenny Phillips
Miami S Kenny Phillips
Posted Apr 12, 2008

CFN ranks the top 35 prospects with the deep sleeper and most overrated and underrated players.

2008 NFL Draft Position Rankings
The Safeties 

Rankings & Breakdowns
Top 50 Players - 1 to 25 |
Top 50 Players - 26 to 50 | Quarterbacks
Running Backs |
Wide Receivers | Tight Ends | Offensive Tackles  
Offensive Guards |
Centers | Defensive Ends | Defensive Tackles    
Linebackers |
Safeties | Cornerbacks | Punters & Kickers

By Pete Fiutak

The Class Is ... Awful. Horrible. All-timer bad. Kenny Phillips is a possible first rounder, but that's about it. There are a slew of decent fliers sure to go off the board in the second and third rounds, but there are hardly any must-have player who'll change a franchise. The value will be in the mid-to-late second day. The mid-level prospects are just as strong as some of the ones in the top 7-to-10.

The Best Value Pick Will Be ... Tyrell Johnson, Arkansas State

Most Underrated ... Cornelius Brown, Missouri

Most Overrated ... Thomas DeCoud, California

The Deep, Deep Sleeper Is ...
Kareem Moore, Nicholls State


1. Kenny Phillips, SS Miami
While he was considered a bit of a disappointment last year thanks to some ridiculously high standards, he still came up with 82 tackles and two interceptions. No, he's not Ed Reed or Sean Taylor, and he's a bit lanky and thin at 6-2, 212 pounds, but he's a nice athlete who doesn't miss many tackles. The biggest problem isn't raw speed or his inability to live up to the tremendous hype, but it's his lack of big plays. He's a steady player, not a spectacular one. While he'll be plugged in and will start for a long time, he's not going to be a highlight reel performer.
CFN Projection: First Round

2. Tyrell Johnson, SS Arkansas State
Kind of like a critically acclaimed underground movie that's finally getting a wide release, Johnson goes from being a star that most college football junkies knew about for the last four years to a possible big-value selection. A tremendous starter from day one, Johnson can do it all with 363 career tackles and 13 interceptions to go along with good leadership skills. Forget about the stigma of playing in the Sun Belt; he showed up against the big boys, too. A huge hitter with fantastic speed, timing a 4.44 at the Combine, he just needs a little bit of coaching to put it all together and be a possible star. He'll be an instant impact player
CFN Projection: Second Round

3. DaJuan Morgan, FS NC State

Considering this is a weak year for safeties, Morgan made a great move leaving early. In most years he would've been better served coming back for his senior season having only started for one year, but he has decent 6-0, 205-pound size, good-enough 4.54 speed, and the versatility to play corner or free safety. He cares about being good and will make himself better. He'll need a little more time, a lot of patience to work through his mistakes, and some serious coaching on consistent technique, but he'll grow into a nice starter.
CFN Projection: Second Round

4. Josh Barrett, SS Arizona State

4.36. Barrett was a decent prospect at 6-2 and 223 pounds with strong run stopping skills, and he showed the versatility to play either safety spot, and then he ripped off a 4.36 40 and his stock jumped through the roof. Now he has to play up to his measurables. He had a weird senior season as he didn't play well at times, disappeared for long stretches in games, and then came up with just enough big moments to leave everyone wanting more. On athleticism alone he'll be a great pickup, but he'll need a kick in the pants from time to time.
CFN Projection: Second Round

5. Quintin Demps, FS UTEP
An excellent four-year starter for UTEP with good ball-hawking skills and cornerback coverage ability in a safety body, Demps is a seasoned veteran who can step in right away. He has the 4.41 speed to play corner, but he's a free safety and can be used from time to time as a punt returner. Consistent tackling ability is an issue and will be the difference between starting and being used as a nickelback.
CFN Projection: Third Round To Fourth 

Cornelius Brown, SS Missouri
"Pig" was on his way to a huge season for the Tigers before getting knocked out for the year with a torn Achilles tendon. A physical hitter with the fire and passion to grow into a team leader, he'd be a sure-thing top 100 pick if he hadn't gotten hurt. There's still a major concern about his leg and how quickly he can be the same player, if he can be the same player. If allowed time to get to 100%, he could be the best safety in this draft.
CFN Projection: Fifth Round

7. Craig Steltz, SS LSU
After a few nice years as a tough backup, Steltz was the best defensive back in college football in 2007 making 101 tackles, six interceptions, and seemingly coming up with every big play needed. He's not all that fast and he's not huge, but he has a great motor, never dogs it, and can be used early on in nickel situations if he can't get a starting gig. He's still improving; he could be a far better pro than a collegian.
CFN Projection: Fourth Round To Fifth 

Tom Zbikowski, SS Notre Dame
The ultimate tough guy, he was a four-year starter and a good leader for an Irish defense that was miserable at times before coming through with an underappreciated 2007. He's a good punt returner who always makes something happen, and he's a huge hitter against the run. The problem is his pass coverage ability; he doesn't have any. He needs to be in a secondary with some really good corners.
CFN Projection: Fourth Round

9. Jamar Adams, SS Michigan
The only real issue is his speed, clocking a 4.63. Everything else is there to succeed with 6-2, 212-pound size, good smarts, and good want-to; he'll try to make himself into a player. While he makes a lot of mistakes and will miss tackles, most of his errors come from being too aggressive. The lack of warp speed will knock him down a few pegs, and he can't play free safety, but he should be a nice cog in a system.
CFN Projection: Fourth Round To Fifth 

10. Thomas DeCoud, FS California
More like a corner playing safety, the 6-1, 207-pound DeCoud is a good athlete who hits even bigger than his size. He doesn't make too many mistakes and is ultra-aggressive. While he's still learning the position after moving over from corner, he didn't do quite enough against the pass and he only had roughly a year to figure out what he's doing. even so, his hitting ability along should make him a nice starter in time.
CFN Projection: Late Second Round To Early Third

11. Dominique Barber, FS Minnesota
It's not his fault his team stunk. The brother of Dallas Cowboy RB, Marion, Barber made 174 tackles over the last two seasons as one of the Gophers' only playmakers. He timed a slow 4.68 and he isn't great against the pass, but most of his errors and most of his inconsistencies came from trying to do too much. No one else on that D, especially in the front seven, did much of anything.
CFN Projection: Fifth Round

12. Kennard Cox, FS/CB Pitt
A corner turned into a safety, Cox doesn't have the bulk, at just 5-11 and 190 pounds, and he doesn't have the speed, running a 4.52, to be anything more than a reserve on the outside. However, he's not afraid to get his nose dirty and is great on special teams. If allowed time to figure out what he's doing, he could become a valuable third safety and an emergency corner/nickelback.
CFN Projection: Fifth Round To Sixth Round


D.J. Wolfe, SS Oklahoma
Way overrated in college, Wolfe's calling card is supposed to be his athleticism but he only timed a 4.64. While he's tough, will work to make himself into an NFL player, and has good athleticism, he's still trying to figure out what he's doing and gets beaten way too often. He moved around the OU secondary seeing some time at corner, but he's a safety. He won't be a starter but he could be a valuable reserve in a few years.
CFN Projection: Fourth Round

15. Nehemiah Warrick, SS Michigan State
Peter Warrick's brother has a nice set of skills. He's 6-0 and 211 pounds with 4.56 speed, which isn't bad for a strong safety, and huge hitting ability. His athleticism doesn't quite match up with his speed, he's not all over the place like he should be, and his ball-skills are extremely questionable. He'll have to make a team on special teams.
CFN Projection: Sixth Round

16. David Roach, FS TCU
Off the radar screen for a while, Roach showed good enough athleticism at the Combine and timed a decent 4.57 in the 40 to get back into consideration. Does he actually want to be an NFL player? There's a big question about his want-to and he didn't always play up to his measurables in college. Even so, he has good upside if someone wants to put in the time to keep on him.
CFN Projection: Sixth Round

17. Nathan Lyles, SS Virginia
4.47 speed makes up for 5-10, 202-pound size. A big hitter who makes smart decisions and doesn't make many mistakes, he's better against the pass than the stats would indicate. The problem is a neck injury suffered early in his college career. He's not going to be a starter, but he could grow into a big-time special teamer and a nice nickel specialist.

CFN Projection: Seventh Round

18. Jamie Silva, SS Boston College
A nice four-year player for BC, Silva grew into something special his senior season making 125 tackles and eight interceptions. He was always around the ball and he was a big hitter from day one. He's not a great athlete and ran a horrific 4.86 at the Combine. Even so, on smarts and drive he could be a ten-year special teamer and solid backup safety.

CFN Projection: Sixth Round To Seventh Round

19. D.J. Parker, FS Virginia Tech
He didn't time as well as he needed to, running a 4.64, to make up for his 5-11, 192-pound size, but he's a good athlete who's good when the ball is in the air. Run support at the NFL level isn't going to be there and he has no room on his frame to get bigger and turn into a strong safety. He's not physical enough, but he could become a fantastic third safety or a nickelback if given a shot.
CFN Projection: Sixth Round To Seventh Round

20. Kareem Moore, FS Nicholls State
Stronger than his 5-10, 213-pound size would indicate, Moore is a great hitter who'll throw his body all over the place to make a tackle. While he only put up a 4.67 in the 40, he looks much faster on the field. Now, that could be the competition he faced, but he did stand out. He's a good character player who never got banged up despite his physical style.
CFN Projection: Sixth Round To Seventh Round

21. Dennis Keyes, FS UCLA
While he's a fantastic tackler and had a huge senior year at UCLA, he needs a lot of coaching and a ton of time in the film room to become an NFL player. He didn't time all that fast, running a 4.67, and he's not going to blow up anyone with his shots. He'll have to prove he can do more against the pass and that he's not afraid to get physical.
CFN Projection: Sixth Round To Seventh Round

22. Chris Horton, SS UCLA

At 6-0 and 212 pounds, he's a strong tackle who might see time as a woefully undersized linebacker. He's lousy against the pass and can't play anything but strong safety in the secondary. He can't play free safety or nickelback and he'll have to be a demon on special teams. The athleticism isn't there to be a consistent NFL starter in the secondary.
CFN Projection: Free Agent

23. Derrick Doggett, SS/OLB Oregon State
Very aggressive and ultra-productive, Doggett was a tough playmaker for the Beaver linebacking corps. At 6-2 and 213 pounds, he's way too small to be an NFL outside linebacker, but he has just enough speed to grow into a potentially nice defensive back. This is about as big as he's going to get, and considering he has never played safety, he's a project.

CFN Projection: Free Agent

24. Marcus Griffin, FS Texas
Versatile enough to play either safety spot, he'll be a free safety if he's able to stick around in the NFL. More cornerback-sized, without cornerback speed, he's good at covering running backs and tight ends but struggled against the faster receivers. While the Texas scheme made him look a bit worse than he is, he didn't do enough when he had opportunities. If he doesn't become a star on special teams, he'll have a hard time sticking.

CFN Projection: Free Agent

25. Caleb Campbell, SS Army

A superior tackling machine, he was the Army defense for the last few years and a tough defender who did a little of everything well. More like a smallish linebacker at 6-2 and 229 pounds, he hits like it. Not the best athlete, he struggles in coverage and missed a lot of plays by trying to do everything. He's a leader and a hard worker, but he'll have to show something special right away to stay on a team.
CFN Projection: Free Agent

26. Simeon Castille, FS/CB Alabama
At 6-0 and 195 pounds he's not all that big, but the biggest issue is his lack of speed running a defensive end-like 4.74 40. While he's a baller who made plenty of tackles and plenty of plays at a high SEC level, he doesn't have the measurables or the athleticism to make it at the next level unless he dramatically improves his strength and quickness.
CFN Projection: Sixth Round

27. Corey Lynch, FS Appalachian State
A star high school running back, Lynch turned into a big-time producer for the beat D-IAA/FCS program around. He's a terrific leader who hits well, does whatever is needed, and knows where everyone is supposed to be. He's not a superior athlete and he's not the best form tackler, but he's a playmaker with a tough-guy mentality to become a special teams superstar.
CFN Projection: Sixth Round To Seventh Round


28. Ike Brown, SS Central Michigan
29. Husain Abdullah, FS Washington State
30. Marcus Watts, FS Kansas State
31. Tony Joiner, SS Florida
32. Brian Bonner, SS TCU
33. Joe Fields, FS Syracuse
34. Terry Mixon, SS Eastern Washington
35. Marty Tadman, SS Boise State