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2014 NFL Draft Preview- Top 5 Safeties - This Is Sports Zone

This Is SportsZone continues its 2014 NFL Draft preview as Jake Dixon looks at the Top 5 Safeties in this year’s draft. Check out his previous Top 5s- Cornerbacks, Defensive Ends, and Defensive Tackles.

1. Ha’Sean “Ha Ha” Clinton-Dix, Alabama, HT/WT: 6’1” / 209 LBs

Ha Ha stepped up for Bama following 2012, to fill the void left by current NFL Safety, Mark Barron. Clinton-Dix had a successful 2013 season, with a combined 51 Tackles, 3.5 TFL, 2 INT, and 4 PD. He has pretty ideal size for the safety position at 6’1” and 209lbs. I expect him to be drafted and provide an immediate impact for the team that takes him.

Scouting Report:
-Good Coverage Skills
-Fast enough to run with WR’s
-Size will help him cover a TE
-NFL-ready frame
-Good hands
-Can blitz
-Can move sideline to sideline
-Big hitter
-Decent play recognition
-Average run stopper
-Had a slower 40 then teams would’ve liked at combine (4.58)
Projected Pick: Mid 1st – Late 1st
Player Comparison: Earl Thomas

2. Calvin Pryor, Louisville, HT/WT: 6’2” / 207 LBs

I had the pleasure/displeasure of watching Pryor play (I’m a Rutgers guy) during his time as a Cardinal. Pryor is a physical safety who hits hard, solely lacking that elite athleticism a superstar safety might have. He was a 3 year starter for the Cardinals at safety, finishing his Louisville career with 218 Tackles, 11 TFL, 2 Sacks, and 7 INTs. This guy has all the skills to be a solid safety in the league. He also finished his career with 9 forced fumbles. I expect him to go in the backend of the 1st round.

Scouting Report:
-Good run-stopper
-Quick read and react guy
-Good plant foot, helps get good break on the ball
-Can blitz when needed
-Will rush the LOS and take on blocks
-Very good upside
-Over aggressive at times
-Decent Speed (4.58)
-Will draw PI’s due to aggressiveness
Projected Pick: Late 1st
Player Comparison: Bob Sanders

3. Jimmie Ward, Northern Ill., HT/WT: 5’11” / 193 LBs

Jimmie Ward is a solid prospect at the safety position. His height and weight aren’t ideal, but as scouts have learned in recent years, measurements aren’t everything. The problem may be that while he has showed good aggressiveness and can hang in man to man coverage, he can be overpowered due to his lack of size. In 4 years as a starter for the Northern Illinois Huskies, he amassed 319 Tackles, 6 TFL, 2 Sacks, 11 INTs, 30 PD, and 4 FF. He also showed solid skills in the return game.

Scouting Report:
-Good coverage
-Good Football IQ
-Above average play recognition
-Fluid hips
-Needs to add about 15 lbs of muscle
Projected Pick: Mid 2nd
Player Comparison: Jarius Byrd

4. Deone Bucannon, Wash. St., HT/WT: 6’1” / 216 LBs

Bucannon is my sleeper pick, who completely flew under the radar most of the season playing for the Washington State Cougars. He was a 4 year starter for the Cougars, and in 4 seasons he compiled, 384 Tackles, 13.5 TFL, 1 Sack, 15 INT, and 7 FF. In my opinion, a player with a body of work like that, is hard to argue with. He did play corner the first 3 seasons at Washington State, and switched to safety his senior year. He also has good size to play the safety position in the NFL, and will hit hard.

Scouting Report:
-Good HT/WT/Speed
-Good plant foot
-Good angles when attacking the football
-Can turn and get his head around in air
-Good play in the box
-Downhill type safety
-Good leader
-Struggles in man coverage
-Limited play in certain schemes
-Inconsistent hips
Projected Pick: Late 2nd – Early 3rd
Player Comparison: Donte Whitner / Eric Smith

5. Dion Bailey, USC, HT/WT: 6’0” / 201 LBs

Bailey played his first 2 seasons for the USC Trojans at Linebacker, before making the switch to safety. In his first season at the safety position, he had 62 Tackles, 6.5 TFL, 0.5 Sacks, 5 INT, 6 PD, and 1 FF. Bailey is solid in both coverage and against the run, who will be able to blitz with the best of them. I expect him to continue to progress with his transition to safety.

Scouting Report:
-Big Body
-Good in coverage
-Good coverage in the red zone
-Long arms
-Size helps in breaking up passes
-Needs better play recognition
-Below average instincts at S
Projected Pick: Early 3rd
Player Comparison: Antonio Allen

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1 Comment

  1. Jon says:

    I personally like the “under the radar” picks. Rutgers players are 1/10th of 1 percent.

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