The value of a versatile, three-down safety is at an all-time high in today’s NFL, but safeties can also find a home as role players given the increase in nickel and dime defensive usage. This class has a good mix of players like Alabama’s Deionte Thompson and Delaware’s Nasir Adderley, who have both showed off coveted center-field skills. Washington’s Taylor Rapp makes plays all over the field, while Florida’s Chauncey Gardner-Johnson has slot and deep safety ability. Mississippi State’s Jonathan Abram has received plenty of first-round hype, but role will be crucial for him as he excels when flying to the ball in a straight line, often around the line of scrimmage. As with many positions, scheme fit and usage patterns are crucial when evaluating safeties for the next level.
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1. S Nasir Adderley, Delaware
Adderly earned a 90.3 overall grade with Delaware a year ago, and his 89.9 2018 coverage grade led all draft-eligible safeties.
2. S Darnell Savage, Maryland
Savage has back-to-back seasons with grades over 86.0 overall. He’s a missile around the line of scrimmage, laying some impressive hits in the flat.
3. S Taylor Rapp, Washington
Rapp was one of the most assignment-sure safeties in the country this past season and missed all of two tackles on 56 attempts.
4. S Amani Hooker, Iowa
Hooker’s 91.1 coverage grade last season was the second-highest of any defensive back in the country.
5. S Chauncey Gardner-Johnson, Florida
Gardner-Johnson is perfect for the slot/safety hybrid role in today’s NFL. He led all secondary players with 22 coverage stops this past season.
6. S Juan Thornhill, Virginia
Thornhill has the ball production (13 career picks including six this past season) and had the most freakish measurables of any safety at the combine.
7. S Deionte Thompson, Alabama
He got exposed more down the stretch this season, but Thompson made plays from centerfield that few NFL safeties are even capable of.
8. S Marquise Blair, Utah
Blair flies around the back half of the field with a recklessness you can’t help but respect. He earned an 88.0 coverage grade this past season.
9. S Marvell Tell, USC
Tell could be seen as a cornerback for a lot of NFL teams with his length, fluidity and off-the-charts athleticism. He also lacks the physicality many require from the safety position.
10. S Will Harris, Boston College
Harris didn’t breach the top-50 in terms of overall grade in this year’s safety class, but he has turned in 74.0-plus overall grades as a primary player in Boston College’s defense in each of the past three years.
11. S Johnathan Abram, Mississippi State
Abram is a hard-hitting safety prospect drawing interest from NFL circles as a versatile piece with upside as a box safety or slot cornerback. He earned an impressive 83.1 pass-rush grade across 54 rushes and earned an 80.4 run-defense grade in 2018.
12. S Lukas Denis, Boston College
Denis turned in an underwhelming 59.9 overall grade at safety for Boston College a year ago, but his 90.9 overall grade in 2017 gives reason to believe he can turn things around in the NFL.
13. S Evan Worthington, Colorado
Colorado’s 6-foot-2, 210-pound Worthington earned a 75.0 overall grade in 2017 and a 70.0 overall grade in 2018 playing a mix of slot cornerback, box safety and free safety in the two-year span.
14. S Sheldrick Redwine, Miami (Fla.)
Redwine earned career highs in overall grade (81.6) and coverage grade (85.9). He also recorded 35 defensive stops in 2017 and 2018 combined.
15. S Khari Willis, Michigan State
Willis earned career highs in overall grade (86.0) and coverage grade (86.3) with the Spartans in 2018.