–Minkah Fitzpatrick (11th overall) Miami Dolphins
Confusing move here especially considering the Dolphins had more pressing needs. Reshad Jones and T.J. McDonald are entrenched as starting safeties. So basically Miami spent this high pick on nickelback? Jones is 30, so Fitzpatrick could find himself starting at SS in 2019. With sub-package at the forefront of today’s NFL, Fitzpatrick will get plenty of reps as a rookie. Not overly thrilled with the landing spot but could have been worst.
–Derwin James (17th overall) Los Angeles Chargers
Bye bye, Mr. Jahleel Addae! The messiah has arrived in the city of angels. Let’s hope he can stay healthy and in-the-box. Fellow rookie Kyzir White and sophomore Desmond King should have the deep safety levels covered. With the clearest defined role at this present time, James should easily be the first DB off the board in rookie drafts.
–Terrell Edmunds (28th overall) Pittsburgh Steelers
Way too early, right? Should this be cause for concern for Sean Davis owners? Edmunds tested well (4.47 40-time & 41 inch vertical). However, he will likely make a better rover dog in-the-box as he has proven to be vulnerable in space. Davis is an exceptional athlete who can play slot corner, and he has the range to play deep safety. As a first round pick, you have to imagine Edmunds is going to play (even considering the free agent acquisition Morgan Burnett, who is making significant enough money).
–Jessie Bates (54th overall) Cincinnati Bengals
Why would a team that doesn’t have a true strong safety on roster draft a free safety this high? I don’t love Bates, but his tackle production at Wake Forest was very good. He gets after people and the ball. He should be a safe but not sexy 3rd to 5th round rookie pick.
–Justin Reid (68th overall) Houston Texans
This could be a steal! Reid can play both free and strong safety exceptionally well. The Texans added the Honey Badger this off-season who is also versatile. Their back end could be an IDP force. The rest of the Texans safety depth chart features Andre Hal, Kurtis Drummond and Ibraheim Campbell so yeah I am not worried about Reid’s snap count as a rookie.
–Tracy Walker (82 overall) Detroit Lions
This well-rounded traffic navigator reads and reacts with ferocity. I am still shocked that he went before Ronnie Harrison (who was my #1 pre-draft DB). That being said the Lions have a plan for Walker. After 2018 they will no longer be upside down with Glover Quin’s contract. Cutting him after 2018 will save them 4.6 million dollars. Also, consider that starting SS Tavon Wilson is 28 and his backups Quandre Diggs (converted CB) and Miles Killebrew (ineffective) are nothing special.
–Ronnie Harrison (93rd overall) Jacksonville Jaguars
This was a little bit of a befuddling for me. The Jags have two very reliable veteran safeties in Tashaun Gipson (27) and Barry Church (30). Sure I believe Harrison can challenge them for snaps but what can we expect from him in year one. Harrison may push for nickel package snaps, and he will certainly be summoned for three safety looks. What is most important to note is that both Church and Gipson can be cut after the 2018 season and Jacksonville would save a combined 13 million dollars. Church, who is older is owned $000,000.00 at the of the season. So it seems pretty obvious that the SS job is Harrison to snatch up. Monitor Harrison closely this yearand trade for him when his value is low.
–Tarvaris Moore (95th overall) San Francisco 49ers
Evaluators are all over the map on this kid. I am okay with this pick from IDP standpoint. Moore is your classic in-the-box cruncher. However, he has great range and quality instincts when the ball is in the air. He was not invited to the combine but his 4.32 pro day 40-time ignited cornerback aspirations from the powers that be in San Francisco. The conversion is already underway, and Moore will very likely see his designation change from S to CB before the season starts.
–Troy Apke (109th overall) Washington Redskins
To sloppily quote Deion Sanders “that white boy is fast.” Sanders mused this upon watching this caucasian drop a 4.34 40-time at the combine. Unfortunately, that is about all he brings to the table. At his ceiling, Apke is likely destined for a deep safety role.
–Jordan Whitehead (117th overall) Tampa Bay Buccaneers
This is one of my favorite picks of the whole draft regardless position. Whitehead just fits what the Bucs need. He has the speed and the physicality to play slot corner. He has the nastiness and strength to play strong safety. Finally he has the range and patience to play free safety. I do not care about the rest of the Bucs safety depth chart. Whitehead will play and you need to draft him, even if you aren’t safety needy.
–Kyzir White (119th overall) Los Angeles Chargers
The West Virginia system is not the easiest to transition from. Essentially it is a 3-3-5 stack. Position names like bandit and spur describe the perimeter secondary players. The two most recent cases of prospects from this system were K.J. Dillon (currently teamless) and Karl Joseph (Raiders). Hope White ends up being closer to the Joseph spectrum. White has good size (6’2”/220) and burst. He is an explosive hitter who joins an already very talented secondary. He will have to compete for snaps but he will also get challenged but by veteran QBs. Whispers of LB reps are also brewing.
–Armani Watts (124 overall) Kansas City Chiefs
Watts is stuck behind a bunch veterans in KC. However with three safety looks becoming increasingly popular, Watts should receive a few snaps. Perhaps he sees time in the quarters coverage bracket. This would give him a quick understanding of the urgency of the NFL passing game. He is very trustworthy in zone attacks and he plays the flight of the ball extremely well. At this point Watts is only worth drafting in formats with deep taxi squads.
–Tre Flowers (146th overall) Seattle Seahawks
There is a great find by Seattle. The 6-foot-3 200/pounder was a 4-year starter at Oklahoma State. He averaged 65.5 tackles per season. He ran 4.45 40-time and the combine and that speed really shows up on film. He could stand to add some pounds and muscle but the Seahawks may just have a future at the safety position. Or apparently Seattle considering a move to CB for Flowers. #staytuned
–Marcus Allen (148th overall) Pittsburgh Steelers
In another noodle scratching move the Steelers took yet another box safety. So I guess Edmunds (40%), Burnett (40%) and Allen (20%) will split time at strong safety? Allen is not a ballhawk and he lacks coverage instincts. He is downhill slasher who tackles recklessly (in good way). Allen was a senior captain and by all accounts a terrific teammate. Be patient if you are planning on drafting Allen.
–Dane Cruikshank (152nd overall) Tennessee Titans
With Jonathan Cyprien struggling in the injury department in 2017, Kevin Byard became a tackling hog. The selection of Cruikshank could make Cyprien expendable. He is a converted CB. That experience should help make for smooth transition to a deep safety role in the NFL.
–Siran Neal (154 overall) Buffalo Bills
This is one favorite players in the draft. He gets down and dirty no matter the competition. He is a true grinder. Unfortunately he is behind two great IDP safeties in Micah Hyde and Jordan Poyer (at least they were in 2017). Neal played a lot of corner in college. I am hopeful that will help him rise up the depth with fifth DB considerations. That would put him on the 2017 level of Nickell Robey-Coleman (Rams) and Brian Poole (Falcons). As for now Neal is listed as a CB on MFL.
–Natrell Jamerson (164th overall) New Orleans Saints
This certainly seems like a luxury pick considering the Saints have Marcus Williams, Vonn Bell and Kurt Coleman on their safety depth chart. Jamerson has great range and he is an efficient tackler. He could play mean center field on third down especially with his fresh rookie legs. The main issue Jamerson has is that Williams and Bell are also young player. Jamerson is converted CB so it is plausible he could be a sub-package mainstay eventually.
–Marcell Harris (184th overall) San Francisco
He we have an impact tackle with solid closing speed who takes very good pursuit angles. He did not play in 2017 due to an Achilles tear last summer. He was invited to the combine, and he mustered 16 bench reps. It is very likely that he profiles as a box player only in the NFL. He is 6-foot-1 and 216 pounds. He should get bigger and stronger the further he gets away from his injury. He is not a burner but he is okay in zone blankets. His man-to-man skills need work. He is a downhill grater and he will be one of seven rookie DBs in camp for the Niners (including the 3rd round S/CB Moore).
–DeShon Elliott (190th overall) Baltimore Ravens
Is it time to release Eric Weddle?… Though a later pick Elliott seems like great safety partner for Tony Jefferson. They could work as interchangeable box players depending on the hash. Elliott is a solid attacking safety. He likely fell this far because of inexperience. He was just one year of starter for the Longhorns. That one season (6 INTs, 3 FF & 63 tackles in 12 games) however was sensational. By the way Weddle is likely a cap causality (nearly 4.8 million in savings) after the 2018 season. Elliott has a real chance to prove himself.
–Quin Blanding (Redskins)
He was a highly productive college player. Seemingly a day two pick at worst. Washington might have gotten themselves a gem.
–Donnie Miles (Falcons)
This in-the-box havoc maker fell out of the draft because of a nasty broken foreman injury. He will need to prove he is fully healthy and not hesitant before he makes the 52-man roster.
He is currently my favorite Bengal safety ever! He has the prototypical banger size and great range. I will be shocked if he doesn’t make the team.