The safeties this year are a very talented group, it’s great at the top with three top 20 prospects and six of them all received at least 2nd round grades. This years safeties include one of the safest picks in the draft and one of the most misunderstood prospects in a long time. Im talking about the extremely versatile and highly productive Eric Berry and the freak athlete Taylor Mays. There has been talk about both of them moving positions, Mays to Linebacker and Bery to Corner. But in my mind, there is no doubt, they are both Safeties and the best prospects at their position in 2010.
Here ar my 2010 Safety rankings:
1. Eric Berry*, Tennessee
Pros: Elite playmaker. Has the ability to line up anywhere in the secondary and be successful. In pass coverage he has very fluid hips, good speed and very good ball skills. Is excellent when the play is in front of him diagnosing the play and reading the QB. Has excellent hands. Has the ability to tackle hard when receivers catch the ball in front of him. Does a very good job in the run game evading blockers with his athleticism and making stops with his solid wrap up tackling or by launching himself into the ball carrier. Has the athleticism to be an effective blitzer off the edge or from the slot.
Put up great stats in his time with the Vols.
Cons: Doesnt posses the elite size that you want in your safety. Is quicker than he is fast. Might not have the ability to play SS in the pros. Can get to aggressive in run support and take bad angles. Has had some injury issues with his shoulder.
2. Taylor Mays USC
Pros: Huge safety with off the charts athleticism. Is extremely willing to come up in run support and has the speed to keep RBs from getting to the edge and turning the corner. Has the ability to really lay the wood as well as wrap up effectively. Has amazing range in coverage and has very good closing speed to break up passes. Is rarely beaten deep. Punishes wide receivers going over the middle. Is an intimidating presence in the backfield.
Cons: Doesnt always take good angles in run defense and in coverage. Leads a lot with his helmet and looks to much after the KO. Doesnt play the ball at all in coverage and goes for the hit every time. Is at times indecisive in coverage which leads to him being caught in the middle of plays. Played mostly deep zone coverage at USC, uncertain how he will respond to man coverage.
Is a bit of a dirty player.
3. Earl Thomas** Texas
Pros: Elite coverage safety with great ball skills.
While being a little undersized in college, Thomas bulked up some and showed he has the size to be able to play FS. He does a very good job of recognizing the run and coming up in support. Shows his aggressive nature by often lunging himself into the legs of running backs head first.
Is very smooth in the passing game and can turn and run with the Wr. Is very quick and has the ability to play both underneath coverage and man out of the slot or at the flank. Has great ball-skills and amazing timing to either get the pick or PBU when targeted. Has very good closing speed and times his arrival very well when having to tackle. Is a very good special teamer that has a lot of versatility on passing downs.
Cons: Is often too aggressive in the run game and over-pursues a lot. Fails to break down and has a problem finishing tackles causing the ball carrier to either break it completely or get 2-3 yards extra almost every time. Struggles to get off blocks and the better run blocking Wrs will take him out completely. Might have to move to CB at the next level or play purely as a coverage FS with limited run responsibilities.
4. Nate Allen South Florida
Pros: Prototypical FS. Has pretty good speed in pass coverage and has the smooth hips to stay on receivers 1 on 1 coverage and does a good job of getting out of his back pedal. Has good range in zone and does a very good job of reading the QB getting quickly into position. Has good hands for the interception. Does a very good job of getting involved in the run D. Has a pretty good burst when tackling and can stop the ball carrier immediately. Is a solid open field tackler that relies on good tackling technique. Has very good knowledge of the defenses and its responsibilities, but also knows the offenses tendencies as he used to play QB in high school. Is a player thats still learning the nuances of the position
Cons: Can get too aggressive in pass coverage and bites on pump fakes and other misdirection plays. Can get to passive when tackling quicker ball carriers and gets caught on his heels too much. His back pedal needs work from a technique standpoint as it is too slow. Struggles with quicker WRs in man. Needs to do a better job with angles when the play is in front of him.
5. Chad Jones*, LSU
Pros: Big physical safety. Does a very good job in pass protection when going up against bigger WRs and TEs by using his long body, reading the QB and playing the ball. Has very good range and closing speed in zone coverage and can lay the big lick on receivers when he cant get to the football. Does a very good job of taking angles when stopping the run and has the ability to wrap up and stop a big body dead in the tracks or break down and use his long reach to bring down the smaller shiftier backs. Has great hands for the interception. Showcased his athleticism by being a returning kicks and punts occasionally, taking one for a TD in 09.
Cons: Is a bit stiff in the hips. Isnt as fast twitch as you want a FS to be especially if you want him to play man coverage. Is to aggressive at times in both zone and man which will cause him to arrive late or being caught out of position. Needs to do a better job with getting low in his back pedal and refine his overall footwork. Might be restricted to SS at the next level.
6: Morgan Burnett* Georgia Tech
7: Reshad Jones* Georgia
8: Major Wright* Florida
9: Darrell Stuckey Kansas
10: TJ Lang Oregon
11: Larry Asante Nebraska
12: Kam Chancellor Virginia Tech
13: Terrell Skinner Maryland
14: Myron Rolle Florida State
15: Robert Johnson Utah