Early 2024 NFL Draft safety rankings: Miami's Kamren Kinchens boasts elite coverage ability

2NHXHX2 ATLANTA, GA - NOVEMBER 12: Miami Hurricanes safety Kamren Kinchens (24) runs back an interception for a touchdown during the Saturday afternoon college football game between the Miami Hurricanes and the Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets on November 12, 2022 at Bobby Dodd Stadium in Atlanta, GA. (Photo by David J. Griffin/Icon Sportswire) (Icon Sportswire via AP Images)

• Miami's safety duo cracks the top 10: Kamren Kinchens headlines the early list of top 2024 NFL Draft safety prospects, and James Williams comes in at No. 6.

• USC's Calen Bullock brings impressive movement skills: His hips can flip fluidly and quickly, his first step is explosive and his long speed is excellent for the position.

• Washington State's Jaden Hicks has sleeper potential: While he comes in at No. 8 in these rankings, Hicks could significantly rise thanks to his size (6-foot-2 and 215 pounds).

Estimated Reading Time: 6 minutes


In the final chapter of our summer scouting series for the 2024 NFL Draft, we have the safety group. Miami's Kamren Kinchens and James Williams are the top safety duo in the country, with Calen Bullock from USC, Tyler Nubin from Minnesota and Rod Moore from Michigan also showcasing the depth of talent in the potential class.

Here are PFF’s top eight safeties for the 2024 NFL Draft heading into the college football season. For more draft rankings, check out PFF's updated top-150 Big Board.

More Early 2024 Draft Rankings

QB | RB | WR | TE | OT | IOL
DI | LB
| EDGE | CB


1. KAMREN KINCHENS, MIAMI (FL)

PFF Big Board Rank: 15

Two years ago, Kinchens was just a three-star safety recruit. He was the 21st-ranked safety in the 2021 recruiting class and the 320th-ranked player by 247Sports. Now, heading into his first draft-eligible season, you’ll find his name atop most preseason safety rankings for the 2024 NFL Draft.

Kinchens brings top-notch free safety ability to the deep parts of the field, earning an elite 90.7 coverage grade in 2022. His range in coverage is impressive thanks to a good pairing of long speed and awareness. He also has excellent ball skills to come up with takeaways, as evidenced by his six interceptions and three forced incompletions last year.

He could stand to be more tenacious when attacking ball carriers in run defense, but his mindset, athletic ability and size (6-foot, 205 pounds) for the position are that of a true playmaker.


2. CALEN BULLOCK, USC

PFF Big Board Rank: 42

True single-high safeties can change everything for a defense. When you have a player with elite coverage ability on the back end of a secondary, it allows you to put more players in the box to create pressure and excel in run defense. Calen Bullock has that kind of ability and talent as a free safety.

As a former athlete recruit, Bullock has natural, impressive movement skills. His hips can flip fluidly and quickly, his first step is explosive and his long speed is excellent for the position. His five interceptions and five forced incompletions are evidence of his elite range in coverage. However, at 6-foot-3 and just 190 pounds, Bullock has to get stronger. He was a liability in run defense last season — a glaring weakness in his tape versus Utah. For as great as his coverage is, if he doesn’t get stronger and more reliable in run defense, he could get lost in the NFL.


3. TYLER NUBIN, MINNESOTA

PFF Big Board Rank: 44

There are not many college redshirt seniors who are as impressive and NFL-ready as Nubin. He started 24 games combined in the past two seasons, and all of that experience has yielded an impressive and versatile player. There is a lot to like about his game and his mental makeup. He is a student of the game, and his instincts and anticipation are very good because of it, especially when defending over the middle of the field in robber coverage roles.

In 2022, Nubin logged 345 snaps at free safety and 177 snaps in the box with four interceptions and four forced incompletions. He's a bit limited in his long speed, so you won't want him in single-high coverage a ton. But in a two-deep system, he can absolutely be an NFL starter.


4. ROD MOORE, MICHIGAN

PFF Big Board Rank: 59

Michigan has been producing some damn-good football players as of late, and Rod Moore is one of the next in line. His PFF grades were steady and impressive across the board last year, as he finished with an 81.4 grade in coverage and an 84.2 grade in run defense.

The 6-foot, 198-pound Moore is on the lighter side, so you won’t view him as an enforcer. But he still gives a lot of effort and focus in run defense, along with good production on the ball. He tallied four interceptions and four forced incompletions in 2022, all mainly coming from that free safety role. He's a good pre-snap communicator and can recognize alignments before the ball is snapped. Because of this, he thrives as a middle-of-field defender in coverage. He projects as a good single-high or two-deep safety who can be great in robber roles.


5. ANDREW MUKUBA, CLEMSON

PFF Big Board Rank: 72

Context is key with Mukuba. If you just watch his tape from 2022, or if you just look at his PFF grade, you might be shocked to see him on this list. He graded out in the 50s in coverage and run defense last season. But he was injured for most of the year — he just toughed it out to be on the field. He suffered a dislocated elbow and a sprained MCL, healthy for only two of his 14 games.

If you turn back time to his true freshman season tape, you’ll see a promising player. Even as just a first-year guy, Mukuba showed really nice athleticism and a good baseline for coverage instincts, recording a 74.5 coverage grade in 2021 with one interception (3 dropped interceptions) and 10 forced incompletions. A fully healthy Mukuba could be a top-five safety in this class.


6. JAMES WILLIAMS, MIAMI (FL)

PFF Big Board Rank: 79

Williams was Miami’s prized recruit in the 2021 class. The five-star talent measures in at 6-foot-5 and 215 pounds, like an edge defender playing safety.

As you would expect, physicality is the strength of Williams' game — but more so in coverage than run defense. He earned an 88.7 coverage grade and a 61.6 run-defense grade in 2022. His usage was split, with 232 snaps at free safety and 279 coming in the box. Williams does need to rely more on fundamentals in his tackling instead of leaning on strength and length, but his movement skills at his size are very alluring.


7. LATHAN RANSOM, OHIO STATE

PFF Big Board Rank: 98

Ransom brings sky-high athletic potential to the hybrid safety role he plays for the Buckeyes' defense. He is experienced in man coverage against some of the top tight ends in the Big Ten, showing he can hang with them athletically. For 2023, Ransom needs to display more consistency. His high-end plays are nice, but his over-aggressiveness in run defense (just an 86.6 run-defense grade) has burned him on too many occasions, leading to bad pursuit angles or bad technique.

Ransom missed only nine tackles in run defense in 2022, three of which came against Michigan. These are fixable things, and there’s a lot to like if he can do so.


8. JADEN HICKS, WASHINGTON STATE

PFF Big Board Rank: N/A

Hicks could make a serious jump on this list. As a true freshman in 2021, he logged only 15 snaps, playing in just one game. In fact, he himself wondered if the Power Five would be too much for him. But the former high school cornerback got to work, specifically in the film room. And in 2022, not only did he look worthy of Pac-12 competition, but he looked ahead of his time with anticipation and communication.

At 6-foot-2 and 215 pounds, Hicks has unique size and uses that to his advantage when wrapping up to tackle. His range is somewhat limited with long speed, but when he recognizes where the ball is going and can get a break on it, he can be an impactful coverage player.

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