NFL Draft - S

NFL Draft Top 10 Positional Rankings: Safety Edition

1. Chauncey Gardner-Johnson, Florida, Junior (5'11" 210lbs)

NFL Draft Top 10 Positional Rankings: Safety Edition 1

Board Ranking: #25

Round Grade: 2

Draft Prediction: Early Day Two

Chauncey Gardner-Johnson brings extraordinary versatility to the table as the top safety on my board. A former cornerback, GCJ has quality coverage skills out of the slot, is a consistent tackler in the box, and showcased above-average range as centerfield safety. CGJ isn't elite in any one aspect of his game, but his consistency across the board makes him a safe player that any team should be able yo find a starting role for.

2. Taylor Rapp, Washington, Junior (6'0" 208lbs)

Taylor Rapp -S

Board Ranking: #26

Round Grade: 2

Draft Prediction: Mid Day Two

Unlike GCJ, Taylor Rapp is a guy that needs to play down and in the box. Rapp plays with a great sideline-to-sideline range as a tackler and stays slippery when getting into the backfield on tosses, stretches, and outside zone runs. Rapp played some FS in his first few years at Washington, before taking over as the teams primary SS in 2018. Rapp has great instincts, short area quickness, and is the most consistent tackling safety in this class. He will have a long successful career as a strong safety in the NFL.

3. Nasir Adderley, Delaware, Senior (6'0" 206lbs)

Nasir Adderley - S

Board Ranking: #35

Round Grade: 2

Draft Prediction: Late Day One

Nasir Adderley is one of the true free safeties in this class. Adderley is coming into the draft as the top small school prospect but showed at the Senior Bowl that the competition jump will not bother him one bit. While not being the most dynamic athlete, Adderley plays with above-average ball skills, instincts, and is a much better tackler than given credit for. Adderley will likely be the first safety drafted due to his true centerfield ability, and his ability to take the football away.


4. Juan Thornhill, Virginia, Senior (6'0" 205lbs)

Juan Thornhill - S

Board Ranking: #49

Round Grade: 2

Draft Prediction: Early Day Two

Virginia's Juan Thornhill boosted his draft stock with a dominant combine performance, but don't mistake Thornhill for a "workout warrior" only. Thornhill's athleticism pops off the tape, and his ability to take the football away in 2018 puts him in a prime spot to be drafted inside the top 50. Thornhill came to Virginia as a cornerback, and had solid tape as a corner, before making the transitioning to a full-time safety in his Sophomore year. Thornhill needs to improve on his consistencies as a tackler and pursuit angles, but with his measurable's and traits Thornhill has one of the higher ceilings in this defensive back class.

5. Darnell Savage, Maryland, Senior (5'11" 198lbs)

Darnell Savage - S

Board Ranking: #51

Round Grade: 2

Draft Prediction: Early Day Two

Maryland's Darnell Savage is one of my favorite players in this draft class. While undersized, Savage plays just like his last name would insinuate. Savage is a versatile safety that can play both deep and down. Reminds me a lot of Budda Baker coming out of Washington a few years ago. Savage is a 100mph player and while the swings-and-misses are on tape, he makes a TON of plays both in the run game and pass game. Savage is one of the better athletes at his respected position and showcased above-average instincts and ball skills as a versatile defensive back.

6. Deionte Thompson, Alabama, r-Junior (6'1" 195lbs)

Deionte Thompson - S

Board Ranking: #54

Round Grade: 2-3

Draft Prediction: Mid Day Two

Just a few months ago, many had Deionte Thompson listed in their top 10 overall prospect rankings. After a disappointing ending to the season, and a wrist injury that limited his combine/pro day testing, many scouts are left with more questions than answers for Deionte Thompson. While the athletic ability questions are legit, Thompson showed good instincts, ball skills, and range as a true free safety in his years at Alabama. Along with his free safety ability, Thompson was a consistent tackler that took good pursuit angles and didn't mind taking risks to take the ball away. He won't be for everyone, but if a good coaching staff gets their hands on Thompson, he has Pro Bowl potential as a free safety.

7. Johnathan Abram, Mississippi State, Senior (5'11" 205lbs)

Johnathan Abram - S

Board Ranking: #71

Round Grade: 3

Draft Prediction: Early Day Two

The best way to describe Johnathan Abram is hit-or-miss. He's either going to hit the hell out of you for a big loss, fumble, or big play, or he's going to miss and give up big plays. You love the aggressiveness he plays within the box, but there are far too many examples of Abram going for the home run to only drop his eyes and miss. Abram struggles in coverage but can be a dominant run defender in the box if he improves on his tackling technique, and calms down on his over-aggressive play style.  Abram is likely to go a bit earlier than I would take him, but his ability to be a run stuffing box-safety is very intriguing for teams missing that piece.

8. Amani Hooker, Iowa, Junior (5'11" 210lbs)

Amani Hooker - S

Board Ranking: #102

Round Grade: 4

Draft Prediction: Mid Day Three

Amani Hooker is a versatile safety that can play multiple roles on the back end of a defense. Hooker has the athletic ability and range to play single-high, but also the tenacity and tackling abilities to play in the box. Hooker lacks the ideal man-coverage ability to line up in the slot consistently, but does showcase above-average instincts to create turnovers as a free safety. Hooker reminds me a lot of what Xavier Woods was coming out of Louisiana Tech two years ago.

9. Malik Gant, Marshall, r-Junior (6'0" 209lbs)

Malik Gant - S

Board Ranking: #111

Round Grade: 5

Draft Prediction: Mid Day Three

Malik Gant is another guy who will need to stay in the box due to lack of coverage skills due to athletic ability, and size limitations. Gant, if used in the right way, could be a very effective player in the NFL as a rotational box-safety and special teams ace. Gant is one of the better tackling safeties in this class that plays the run with great tenacity and effort. Showcased the ability to lay the wood across the middle of the field, to come downhill with the thunder, but also the ability to wrap up to make the safe tackle. When Gant is selected it won't be a sexy pick, but it could be one of the better value picks at the position.

10. Marquise Blair, Utah, Senior (6'0" 209lbs)


Board Ranking: #112

Round Grade: 4

Draft Prediction: Early Day Three

Marquise Blair will be absolutely loved by most NFL teams. Another example of a player that gives 100% effort at 100% of the time. Blair is an extremely physical safety that loves contact in the running game. Blair plays with great instincts in awareness to beat blockers, cut off angles, and make plays on the ball in coverage. Played all over the secondary in his career at Utah. Ability to line up both deep and down in the box will add value to his game. Needs to learn to break down better, and make the tackle in space when the opportunity presents itself.

Series Navigation<< NFL Draft Top 10 Positional Rankings: Offensive Line EditionNFL Draft Top 10 Positional Rankings: Defensive Tackle Edition >>
Connor Livesay

Connor Livesay

ProFootball Free Lance Author at
I talk a lot about the NFL Draft and the Dallas Cowboys. I plan on talking a lot more.
Connor Livesay

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