1. Eric Berry- Berry is not only the best safety in this draft class, but the best player overall. He could play free safety, strong safety and could probably even lineup at cornerback. His coverage skills are maybe the best of any safety in the last decade. Berry shouldn’t make it out of the top 5, but just might because safeties are valued so low (big mistake). Where ever he goes, and where ever he plays Berry will be an elite player for the next 15 years.
2. Earl Thomas- In any other year Thomas is the first safety taken, but he is well behind Berry in terms of talent, and I think Thomas has Pro Bowl talent. He is a little short for a safety, but otherwise is a fantastic cover man. He is a major ball hawking free safety, who is pretty good in run support as well.
3. Taylor Mays- Just watching Mays work out, you automatically think of Sean Taylor or Ronnie Lott, but on the field is a different story. For someone who is as athletically gifted as Mays, he sure gets burned enough on defense. He doesn’t have great instincts or ball skills, and too often takes bad angles either to the ball or the ball carrier, which puts him out of position to make the play. I still believe either a hybid role or a full time switch to linebacker may be the best way to take advantage of Mays’ incredible talent.
4. Nate Allen- I love Nate Allen, as a football player. He is an extremely hard worker, smart, instinctive football player. He not the fastest or most athletic (but he doesn’t lack in either of those areas), but he is probably the smartest safety out there (maybe 2nd behind Berry). Allen should be an early 2nd round pick, and don’t be surprised if he is the 3rd safety off the board, since he isn’t as big of a risk as Mays.
5. Major Wright- I think Wright has the tools to be a stud free safety prospect in the NFL. Sometimes he didn’t stand out at Florida like one would expect, but considering the number of stars they have, it is a bit understandable. Has struggled some in man to man coverage, but excels in the zone. He reads quarterbacks fairly well, and has the speed to close on the ball. He is a sure tackler and big hitter, allowing him to help in the run game. He’s not the perfect safety prospect, but if you miss out on one of the big names he offers solid value in rounds 2-4.
6. Reshad Jones- Jones is an interesting prospect because he really could fit at either free or strong safety. I think he has tremendous upside and should be a starter at some point during his rookie year. Sometimes he is a bit inconsistent at times, but has the talent to really excel in the NFL. I think he is a late 2nd round prospect, and a great find for a team.
7. Morgan Burnett- The fact that Burnett is this low is a testament to how strong this safety class is. He very well might have been the best safety prospect in last year’s draft and is probably no better than an early 3rd rounder this year. He is great in the deep zone and has great straight line speed. He struggles at time when he needs to make cuts in keeping up with receivers, but has above average instincts to make up for it. I think he is a very good safety prospect across the board, but doesn’t standout in any one area.
8. Chad Jones- Is only really a strong safety for me, and doesn’t possess great ball or coverage skills. He is a big hitter and should be a stout run defender, but there are too many questions for me to take him in the top 3 rounds. I like the potential, but wonder if he will ever reach it.