To save space, we’re going to combine the safeties of both types. If you’re not familiar with the safety position, there are two main types: free and strong. Your free safety in most systems has the range to cover the field over the top and come in to assist when the ball is in the air.
Strong safeties may be a big bigger and more physical because they’re almost a hybrid linebacker at times. They’re great against the run and dealing with big hefty tight ends.
We’ll rank both in the top 10 safeties of the 2015 NFL Draft.
1. Landon Collins (Alabama)
Collins could realistically play both safety spots at the next level but we like him more on the strong side. He’s fast enough to cover down field and physical enough to handle bigs and tight ends. This kid is tough. He came in as a highly touted athlete and did not disappoint with the Crimson Tide.
2. Derron Smith (Fresno St)
Lacking ideal size for a free safety, Smith’s coverage skills more than make up for it. Problem is, he’d almost be more valuable as a nickel cornerback than a starting free safety. The guy’s got talent but isn’t physical enough for my liking. Unfortunately this isn’t a super strong class.
3. Gerard Holliman (Louisville)
A size and speed combination un-matched, Holliman is all ball all the time. But where’d he come from? Where was he in 2013? Nobody knows. Can he continue his high play in the NFL and can he actually learn some tackling technique, please?
4. Anthony Harris (Virginia)
I was more impressed with Harris as a FS at Virginia than his SS time in which we have more tape on. He’s not super fast, but he’s also not the guy you want trying to tear heads off with a 185 pound frame. Project safety.
5. Damarious Randall (Arizona St)
Most people say safety, I say cornerback. I may end up moving him in my next rankings update. He’s got solid ball skills and can tackle in space on the edge, but not in the middle of the field. He’s a bit undersized as a safety, so why call a duck something other than a duck?
6. Cody Prewitt (Ole Miss)
I really loved watching this kid play at Ole Miss. He brought his A game every time and played with a ton of heart. That being said, he’s slow and weak, yet he still moves well in space. There’s upside here if you ask me. He’d almost be a solid Jack linebacker, or something similar to Thomas Davis back in Georgia.
7. Durrell Eskridge (Fresno St)
We’re giving Eskridge a pass here because he’s got the ability to stop the run, be he doesn’t do anything all that great. He’s just an above average safety that does a few things well. Not much upside here and not much to be desired.
8. Kurtis Drummond (Michigan St)
I really hate putting Drummond down behind all of these bums because he actually has upside, IMO. He’s a 6’1 safety that plays like he’s 6’5. He can move in space and he can find the ball. He plays bigger than he is on the receiver coming down the field, but is more of an “ole” performer against the bigger ball carriers.
9. Jaquiski Tartt (Samford)
Tartt is starting to become one of the sexy picks for safeties in this draft and will likely find his way moving up eventually. He’s got a great frame at 6’1 221 with solid lateral ability and good speed. His technique down field is spotty, his reaction ability is slowed with his eyes in the backfield and his lack of awareness hurts him.
10. Chris Hackett (TCU)
Hackett is like that fly in your ear all day long while you’re outside building the deck. He does just enough to piss you off. But for a “small” guy at 6’0 195, he’s so stiff and inconsistent that you don’t know what to make him. He was a well liked guy in the locker room, and he’s not an idiot, so he could become a role player.