Top 10 Safeties In 2018 NFL Draft

1. Florida State S Derwin James – Junior – 6-2, 215 – 4.47
Since the moment James stepped on Florida State’s campus he’s been destined to be an NFL player. At over 6-foot with the athleticism of an elite cornerback, James is a prototype player as a safety who can drop back into coverage, come up and lay a hit, play man coverage on tight ends and rush the pass. He is one of the rare prospects in this draft, and will be picked as such.

Florida State S Derwin James - Photo by: Getty Images

Florida State S Derwin James – Photo by: Getty Images

2. Alabama S Minkah Fitzpatrick – Junior – 6-0, 205 – 4.46
Like James, Fitzaptrick has been turning heads since his true freshman days. He’s play safety, outside corner and slot corner for the Tide over the last three season, and honestly has the potential to play any of them in the NFL. His safest bet is at safety so he can play a slot role as well. He might not be as athletic as James, but his instincts in coverage are top of this class.

3. Stanford S Justin Reid – Junior – 6-0, 207 – 4.40
Like Fitzpatrick, Reid shows a lot of versatility as a defensive back. His best position is safety, but he played every single defensive back position the Cardinal have in their scheme during his time there. He has good instincts and awareness for the position, and that’s key when playing any safety spot. He’ll likely be a late first round pick.

4. Alabama S Ronnie Harrison – Junior – 6-2, 207 – N/A
It’s rare that you have two of the top five safeties in a draft class coming from the same team, but what else would you expect from the reigning national champions? Harrison was the hard-hitting compliment to Fitzpatrick, but he also has some range in coverage. He has a tendency to overcommit and like to shoulder tackle more than wrap up, but if that’s cleaned up, he can bring a lot of athleticism to the safety position.

5. Wake Forest S Jessie Bates – Junior – 6-1, 200 – 4.50
In 2016, Bates was a consensus Freshman All-American and the ACC’s runner-up conference Defensive Rookie of the Year with 100 tackles, 3.5 tackles for loss, five interceptions  and two touchdowns. Bates was an honorable mention All-ACC selection in 2017. He’s smaller in size, but certainly knows how to make an impact. He can play both free and strong safety. Would be a good option for Tampa Bay.

6. WVU S Kyzir White – Senior – 6-2, 218 – N/A
White was a Top 20 overall junior college prospect before coming on with the Mountaineers in 2016. In WVU’s unique defense, he played a position labeled “SPUR” which is a hybrid safety/linebacker. in that spot, he tallied 58 tackles, seven tackles for loss, three sacks, five pass break-ups and two forced fumbles. White stayed as the team’s SPUR in 2017 and  earned second-team All-Big 12 with 94 tackles, 7.5 tackles for loss, three interceptions, four pass break-ups and two forced fumbles.

7. Texas S DeShon Elliott – Junior – 6-2, 205 – 4.58
In his first year as a starter (2017), Elliott was a unanimous first-team All-American and All-Big 12, and was also named a finalist for the Jim Thorpe Award (nation’s top defensive back). He finished the season with 63 tackles, 8.5 tackles for loss, nine pass breakups, three forced fumbles, six interceptions and two of them returned for a touchdown. He’s a strong safety fit with size and aggression at the line of scrimmage.

S Armani Watts – Photo by Bob Levey/Getty Images

8. Virginia Tech S Terrell Edmunds – Junior – 6-2, 220 – 4.47
Not as physically gifted as his brother Termaine, but still a good athlete for his position. He had a good year in 2016, but was forced to shut down his final year short needing shoulder surgery. He’s a solid prospect who does his best work while at or near the linebacker level. he’s more suited to play strong safety, in that regard.

9. Penn State S Marcus Allen – Senior – 6-2, 215 – N/A
Allen started contributing to the Penn State program when he was just a freshman, playing in all 13 games and starting seven. He finished his career with 181 tackles and 17 tackles for loss. He’s a solid safety prospect, but his three interceptions show he’s not one for takeaways. He’s a run supporter and a good tackler — but not a heavy hitter.

10. Texas A&M S Armani Watts – Senior – 5-10, 202 – N/A
Watts has a lot of the same narratives that his running mate Justin Evans had coming out of A&M last year — though Evans was the superior prospects. both had top notch athletic with range and hitting ability, but both were undisciplined in certain areas. Watts is more of a project than Evans was, but if he cleans up his technique and his bad tendencies, He’s a lot of energy and game-changing athleticism form the safety spot.

Best Of The Rest

11. Virginia S Quinn Blanding – Senior – 6-2, 207 – 4.63
Blanding earned first-team All-ACC pick and All-American honors in each of his last two seasons. He started all 13 games in 2017 and finished his finals season with 137 tackles, 3.5tackles for loss and four interceptions. Blanding is a solid safety with good awareness for the position, but he is limited athletically.

12. Pittsburgh S Jordan Whitehead – Junior – 5-10, 198 – N/A
Whitehead played both side of the ball in high school, and the reason he plays safety now is because Pitt wanted to get him on the field as early as possible in his career. Whitehead has 235 tackles in his three season with the Panthers.

13. San Diego State S Kameron Kelly – Senior – 6-2, 204 – 4.66
Kelly played both safety and corner for San Diego State. He played cornerback in his final season, but his lack of true speed make him more of a safety in the NFL. he has the length teams desire for a defensive back hybrid who can play both positions.

14. Penn State S Troy Apke – Senior – 6-1, 200 – 4.34
Apke only started one season at safety. His stats and lack of production and experience will hurt where he gets drafted, but his combine numbers were fantastic. he’ll be a player a team will take a chance on in the later rounds with great athletic ability for the position.

15. Ohio State S Damon Webb – Senior – 5-11, 209 – 4.62
Webb is an experienced safety with limited athleticism. He uses good awareness and experience with instincts to make his mark, but might just be a backup at the next level if he can’t display the range to cover.

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About the Author: Trevor Sikkema

Trevor Sikkema is the Tampa Bay Buccaneers beat reporter and NFL Draft analyst for PewterReport.com. Sikkema, an alumnus of the University of Florida, has covered both college and professional football for much of his career. As a native of the Sunshine State, when he's not buried in social media, Sikkema can be found out and active, attempting to be the best athlete he never was. Sikkema can be reached at: trevor@pewterreport.com
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24/7BucFan
3 years ago

I would take S james over G Nelson. Other sites say… you don’t take a safety at 7. But they would take a Guard at 7? SMH . gonna be some mad Bucs fans when we pass on Nelson and take James. Either way i’ll trust Licht over some lame posters. GO BUCS!!!

Schwifty9
Reply to  WinstonMVP
3 years ago

Or maybe it’s you that will be mad when the Bucs take the best O-line prospect since, who some scouts say is better than, Zac Martin, a first year All-pro. Bucs can draft Nelson at 7, a Corner at 38, and the best available Dline/ DB prospects for the rest of the draft, and then sign Eric Reid, a proven NFL starter at SS who is just 27 and went to the probowl as a rookie. After that we can sign C.J. Anderson to improve our RB group. Much better haul in my Opinion than passing up on one of… Read more »

Sneedy16
Reply to  Schwifty9
3 years ago

The problem with Reid is he noticeably struggled in man to man coverage against tight ends, and was rarely used in the deeper roles that Smith does a lot of since he rotates he safeties between free and strong. He lacks the recovery ability due to his knee injuries and durability is a concern as he has multiple concussions.

Schwifty9
Reply to  Sneedy16
3 years ago

He’d be better than Ward was for us and it wouldn’t cost a 1st rounder to bring him in.

Sneedy16
Reply to  Schwifty9
3 years ago

He’d be the same as Ward from what I’ve seen, to be honest. Can tackle, but can’t cover deep so he would be limited just like Ward. That’s why Ward ended up playing less. It would basically be signing a younger version of Ward. lol

https://www.ninersnation.com/2018/2/6/16974116/eric-reid-film-breakdown-49ers-free-agents-2018

AlexanderNascimento
3 years ago

Morning, Trevor.
I know it’s off the subject but I’d like to know your mind in the following.
Would you be ok if the Bucs signed CJ Anderson and say a RB on the 3rd day of the draft?

sunshineben
3 years ago

With so many holes on the team has Licht done a good job as gm after so many years???

FLBoy84
Reply to  sunshineben
3 years ago

Practically every team out there has holes that develop each year due to player departure, injury or under-performance. Not just a Buc thing. While he has had a few misses both with FA’s and in the draft (like every other GM), think overall Licht has done a solid job.

Dude
Reply to  FLBoy84
3 years ago

I agree with you, well said FLBoy84.

FLBoy84
Reply to  sunshineben
3 years ago

A team like Jacksonville has a pretty solid starting lineup on both sides of the ball (depending on how you view Bortles), but they’re also $18M+ over the projected salary cap next year even before signing any of this years draft picks. They’ll have to fill holes next year like everyone else when they’re forced to make moves due to money.

Schwifty9
Reply to  sunshineben
3 years ago

He took over one of the absolute worst rosters in the league, and actually has improved the roster significantly since doing so. Although that’s mostly on the offense, but seriously Dominik had this roster in absolute shambles.

Buc 1976
3 years ago

If Bucs stay at 7 and Nelson or maybe Barkley are available take one of the two. Maybe Reid with 2nd pick he has the blood line and is smart. James is DB with a DIVA brain.

FLBoy84
Reply to  Buc 1976
3 years ago

Know James has taken hits for supposedly not working out with the Bucs, but it’s easy for us to call him out when it’s not our money and body on the line. If he gets picked at #7, he’s looking at a $20M+ contract, whereas if he gets injured he’s looking @-- late 1st or, more likely, 2nd or 3rd round money. As an example, pick #32 last year received $9M, so there’s obviously quite a bit riding on a players health and availability leading up to the draft.Not defending James necessarily, just something to consider while we bash people… Read more »

Freeman Strickland
3 years ago

To my mind, until the OL is solid, nothing is solid. Sweezy and Dotson are both recovering from surgeries. So, I cannot see the OL as solid. I would want OL first, and RB second. So, I think that picking Apke in a late round would be a great choice. He should at least be a special contributor on special teams, and he might become an outstanding safety in a couple of years. If Nelson and Barkley and Chubb are gone, I would prefer to trade back. But, if we have to pick at seven with the big three gone,… Read more »

e
e
3 years ago

I still don’t see how Minkah is a complete non-fit for the Bucs? Could it be Scott homerism with James?

geno711
Reply to  e
3 years ago

James is more physical. Minkah has been described as smartest safety that has come along in awhile.
Will Bears trade up to Colts to get Nelson?

Schwifty9
Reply to  geno711
3 years ago

Well if you ask me, Smarts and Instincts are what a differentiate a good safety from a great one.

I think that James would be a fine pick, but I’m really not sure if he’s a better pick and completely better pick than Fitzpatrick.

e
e
Reply to  Schwifty9
3 years ago

Agreed… I think that is what set Lynch apart from other safetys. Smarts, A+ character, multiple position player… I’m not saying that James is not talented, by any means… But, looking at the whole package. I just don’t see the big drop off. I would still rather see Nelson in the fold over either James or Fitzpatrick.

Sneedy16
Reply to  e
3 years ago

It’s mainly due to the fact that Minkah predominantly played Slot CB and FS at Alabama. We already have a slot CB HVIII and FS with Justin Evans. We basically need a Strong Safety. Not saying Minkan can’t play the position, but that’s why I think he would be a better fit.

nybuccguy
3 years ago

Coverage skills for a safety matter more than what they do in the box. James at 7 would be a bad pick.

cgmaster27
Reply to  nybuccguy
3 years ago

You do realize james was the highest rated cover safety last year? He also allowed a college low of 44% catch rate when thrown at him. Not sure why everyone thinks james cant cover.

surferdudes
3 years ago

What did James have one interception last year? If Licht drafts a safety with the 7th pick and he doesn’t work out, he’ll be working with Dominick on ESPN. I’d rather we drafted the first line of defense instead of the last. I’ll go on record, I don’t trust Licht like some of you do.

Horse
3 years ago

Whoever is drafted, has to be ineffective starter immediately.

Horse
3 years ago

effective

surferdudes
3 years ago

Trump is having trouble building his wall, but here’s an idea on how the Bucs can build theirs. I went back to look at Bucs best bets for offensive tackle, and I think people are missing on how big a need we really have there. Dotson is done. He misses more time each year, and currently isn’t able to work out. Hopefully he’s ready for camp. D. Smith is our only solid starter, and some question his ability. What happens if Smith gets injured? The rest of our O.T.’s may be best suited for working a loading dock at Lowes.… Read more »

Sneedy16
Reply to  surferdudes
3 years ago

They won’t touch an offensive tackle with the 7th pick maybe in the 2nd round. Caleb Benenoch can play any position on the offensive line except center. McGlinchey would be the pick if they trade down, but I don’t see them going anyone, but Nelson at 7th.

BUC-ASS-BOB
3 years ago

james comes from a winning program, he does not want be drafted by a team not serious about winning , for him it is not about the money he wants a winning team. Bucs sat on thumbs during free agency this year that red flag for James.

Dude
Reply to  BUC-ASS-BOB
3 years ago

As if James is going to have a choice. To me, it would be a red flag for a kid to complain that there isn’t the right people around to help him do his part. I wouldn’t want a kid with a diva attitude like that on my team. I would rather see the Bucs get someone whose a scrapper and ready to go anytime anywhere, and who doesn’t care where they play, as long as they are playing. That’s a guy who is willing to help a losing team become a winner. This kind of player will lay it… Read more »