Before the combine everyone was saying how rubbish this draft class was going to be for safeties. Then I turned on the TV to watch the combine and saw so many guys flying around that I found interesting, that I’m really questioning these so called “experts”.
I love Secondaries. When I really started getting into American Football in 2013 and started supporting the Seahawks, the LOB was in full swing and I got a real appreciation of what they can do for a team. For me they defined a position group which is now starting to change again. I believe 5 DBs with 3 Safeties will start coming again more to adapt to teams focusing more on the air game rather than running the ball.
It is known that the Seahawks need to fill the gap left by Coleman at Nickle and I believe that they need to add high end quality at Safety too, because Thompson hasn’t shown enough improvement. Hill has shown that he can be more of a force than I anticipated but the question is whether he will ever get close to elite. This leads us to looking at the position in the draft in some more detail.
To this day I love assessing DBs the most, because while the movement and athletic ability is good to assess there are so many ways of getting it done at the position and character is paramount. I have tried to reduce to
Round 2-3 Talent
Darnell Savage – 30.07.97 (21) – 5′ 11″(height) – 198 lbs (weight) – 31” (arms) – 9 1/8” (hands) – Maryland
High football IQ who makes special plays. There seem to be long periods where you don’t see him do too much and then suddenly he makes a play where you are like: how?! His ceiling – in my eyes – is elite. He is also a twitchy athlete, who could play in the slot. One thing that does concern me, however, is that he has a tendency to stay on assignment too long when it has already broken down. Definite 2nd round talent.
Chauncey Gardner-Johnson – 20.12.1991 (21) – 5′ 11″ – 210 lbs – 30 7/8” – 9 1/4” – Florida
I like him because he is a big alpha personality who can put the fear in people on the back end. He is a big tough tackler who can deliver a hit. On the other hand, sometimes he feels like a strong safety in free safety body, and when you see him play in the slot he doesn’t seem quite fluid enough. I feel like there is a place for him on an NFL roster and that he has the traits and personality to become a starter, but I just can’t place him yet. Projected to be a 2nd round pick.
Round 4-7 Talent
Sheldrick Redwine – 06.11.96 (22) – 6′ 0″ – 196 lbs – 31 3/4” – 9 3/8” – Miami (Fla.)
My favorite safety at the combine, if not my favorite of any position group. Immediately stood out to me, although I didn’t, and still don’t, know why. Out of my shortlisted players: longest arms, biggest hands, joint tallest, but second lightest. In his position group at the combine he had:
- 6th best 40 yard dash
- 4th best vertical jump
- 3rd best broad jump
- 6th best 20 yard shuttle
at his pro day he added:
- 10x 225lb bench press (a bit disappointing tbh)
- 7.11 3 cone drill (which would have been good for 13th)
so he clearly he wanted to show his best at the combine and do the other things at the pro day. What I also feel like he needs to work on in his interpersonal skills and leadership, which aren’t so great when you watch him in interviews.
But then you watch him on the field and he is always within 1-2 meters of the ball when the whistle is blown, even if his assignment was on the other side of the field. When you watch play by play on the defense, he is making plays on the ball, or around it, all the time. When he tackles he tries to get the ball out (something the Seahawks love) and can blitz off the edge. I feel like he plays best with the field infront of him because he is a great tackler in open field and will come down time and time again to deliver hits.
He is a projected 4-5th round talent, who I would be happy to take in the 3rd.
Jaquan Johnson – (?) – 5′ 10″ – 191 lbs – 29 5/8” – 8 3/4” – Miami (Fla.)
I have to be honest that I didn’t really have my eye on him until I started watching tape on Redwine, so he was a late addition. They have known each other since childhood and I feel like you saw that connection when they played together for Miami. They compliment each other and have a lot of similar play traits. With Johnson they are just compacted into a smaller frame, but for that he has the greater leadership skills and softer hands. I have seen some questions about his speed, but he gets to the ball and makes plays. Projected as a 5th round draft pick, if he is kicking around in that part of the draft I would go for it.
Juan Thornhill – 6′ 0″ – 205 lbs – 31 1/8” – 8 3/4” – Virginia
Had an amazing combine where he jumped off the charts. But when I watch his tape he just doesn’t convince me 100%. There is something holding me back from putting him in one of the groups above and I always go with my gut. I felt like even his highlights were littered with the mistakes of others rather than excellent play. Could prove me completely wrong and be a hyper athlete that becomes great at the next level, but I don’t feel it yet. Projected as a 2nd rounder, some have even said 1st.
Nasir Adderly – 6′ 0″ – 206 lbs – 31” – 9” – Delaware
Fast and fluid to the ball, can really jump to get above the rim and has really good eyes to locate the ball when it is in the air or close to the receiver. You see the eyes when
he is making plays on the ball, and that is something that does fascinate me. He was also linked with the Seahawks in the first round not too long ago, while his draft stock has fallen since – probably because he wasn’t at the combine – and he is now projected as a 2nd-3rd rounder. Again there is something about his play that doesn’t 100% convince me, but I can’t put my finger on it.
Taylor Rapp – 6′ 0″ – 208 lbs – 30 3/4” – 9” – Washington
Excellent instincts and a high football IQ, it feels like he plays with a nasty edge as well. But then you watch interviews and he seems really timid. Projected as a 2nd rounder and I just feel that is way too early for someone who doesn’t have that Alpha feel about him. I very nearly included him above though.
Summarise the safety class in one word: exciting. Especially because the Seahawks need to add there and there are some really exciting guys available. My ideal situation would be to draft Savage in the 2nd and then Thornhill later in the 3rd round.