There’s a lot to like on the top safeties in the draft for 2018. There’s everything from the hard nosed-safety that loves throwing hits in the trenches just like the linemen do, to the rangy fast ball-hawks that can flow sideline to sideline without a drop of sweat. I like both kinds of safeties, but every once in a while in the draft you can find a safety who has the hard-nosed side plus the rangy ball-hawk aspect. Perfect example of those safeties are Earl Thomas, Landon Collins, and Harrison Smith. Hopefully your team that needs a safety can find a stud like the ones listed above.
1. Minkah Fitzpatrick – This guy doesn’t stop from the start of the game all the way until the game clock hits zero like the flip of a switch. He is like a multi-tool chess piece that any defensive coordinator can plug into any position in the secondary and will flourish. He is an excellent blitzer and has the ability to get to his stop speed very quick. Reminds me of an Eric Weddle type player who literally has his nose in the box making driving tackles to laying out for interceptions while toe tapping the sidline.
2. Derwin James – James’ tape screams to me as a stud safety right off the bat. He has all the tangibles of height, speed, and weight that he’s extremely versatile. He has the ability to play that new hybrid safety/linebacker role. He has shown how much physicality he brings in tackling and has the experience of dropping into coverage from wide receivers to running backs. He is a tide turner that can change not just one game, but the course of a season. When he talks either on the field or in the locker room, people always listen.
3. Justin Reid – You will rarely find this guy out of place on a defensive scheme game tape. If you do find that it wont be for another 2 or 3 game tapes after. Has incredible reaction time after recognizing plays even before they are developing. Reid shows all the time that he is able to go up and challenge the bigger wide receivers and tight ends for interceptions or pass break ups. Every once in a while he will bite on a play fake being over aggressive, but can easily make up the ground lost with his fast acceleration.
4. Ronnie Harrison – He was Minkah’s running mate at Alabama last year winning a national championship. Not bad for their last year in college together. Harrison is comfortable playing free or strong safety because of his size and long strides. He anticipates routes well and has the makeup speed to get to the route end before the receiver or tight end does. Sheds blockers exceptionally well and has that wanted aggression when running towards the line.
5. Jessie Bates – Has just two years of game experience from the college level, but game tape doesn’t disappoint. Already has a ton of defensive schemes ingrained in his head from playing man-to-man and zone coverage. Is always drawn to the football for tackling and has the physically finishes the ball carrier with force. The knock I mentioned earlier was lack of experience for some GM’s and scouts. Even without the game experience that the other safeties have, Bates will still flourish at the pro level.