Best “Not First Round” Safety Prospects in this Year’s NFL Draft

ALLGBP.com All Green Bay Packers All the Time

Florida State Safety Terrence BrooksOK kids it is that time of year again, draft talk is everywhere. Who will be taken number one and who are the top ten picks gets way more play then it should. In fact, I think it has got to the point of being sickening.  We as Packer fans don’t get included in all that TOP ten blather and that is a good thing.

Over the off season a lot of what I hear at my usual hang out TalkinPackers and just about every place else I partake in everything Packers is about the Packers having to fix the middle of the defense, specifically at Safety.  I can’t disagree that safety is a top need. I disagree on the type of safety needed. I have even gone so far as to say that two need to be drafted, both a Free Safety and Strong.

The two highest ranked Safeties are HaHa Clinton-Dix out of Alabama and Calvin Pryor from Louisville. I like Haha, not so much Pryor. I would take Clinton-Dix at #21 but not Pryor. Some of the recent mocks have the Packers taking Jimmy Ward at #21, that would be a reach to me, I just can’t believe that there would not be prospects rated a lot higher at that point in this draft.  I like Ward and you can’t discount ninety five tackles and seven int’s his senior year.

With changes in the passing game in the NFL today you need a FS/CB and SS/FS.   And in Capers defense the ability to play either spot is even more important. You can hide coverage’s, roll the FS to the slot and blitz the slot CB.  To go with that, disguise who is playing SS and who is FS, who drops, who stays in the box. With so many 3, 4 and 5 players running pass routes, coverage ability is a premium.

Clinton-Dix is the safety in this draft that I think can do everything and do it well.  He can play in the box, deep third, deep half and slide over to the slot to cover. Pryor to me is more an in the box guy then coverage. I would even take Ward over Pryor, but as I said neither at #21.

The biggest question at this point is what is done with Micah Hyde, is he moved to safety? Or at least sees a lot time there in different situations? Mike McCarthy has stated he wants Hyde on the field more. The move to Safety makes  a lot of sense and he is a better athlete then either Ha Ha or Pryor. His experience in the defense is a huge advantage going into the 2014 season. But whether he is moved to Safety or not, the safety group has to be upgraded.

One of my favorite FS/CB types is Terrence Brooks, FS from Florida State, he is 5-11 198#.  A classic FS/CB type to me. He can play in all coverage’s and plays well against the run. I would take him in the 2nd round.<

At Strong Safety, I think this player is under rated, Deone Bucannon SS Washington 6’ 212#. Can play in the box, and center field, good balls skills. Lots of question as to where he should go. I like Brooks more at #53.

My next Safety is a SS/FS type out of Baylor Ahmad Dixon 6-0’ 212# Baylor. For me I think he can develop into the best Strong Safety in the draft. Can play both SS and FS in the Packers defense. Good spot would be the Packers extra third round pick.

Another CB/FS I like is Jaylen Watkins Florida.  Like Brooks , Watkins played CB and FS, mostly CB for the Gators. Moved to Safety his senior year. 3rd rounder to me, with two third round picks Watkins would be a great pick. This pick would also address CB depth.

All of these players would improve the speed of the team and the middle of the defense.

Editor’ Note: As has become our tradition, every draft season we bring you some looks at the “not the top prospect players:” at various positions.  Spearheading that effort is special contributor Don “Yoop” Christensen from the TalkinPackers Forum, who delights in finding the hidden gems in every year’s draft pool.

  • Ed Schoenfeld

    Great article, thanks for brining more of these guys into the conversation with realistic assessments of when they would be good picks.

    The comment about Hyde being a better athlete is spot on, too. That makes me wonder about the potential draft picks listed at CB who could realistically play FS as well. There have to be a few, and given the ‘need for speed’ at CB a few of them might also drop to rounds 2 through 4.

    • Turophile

      Utah CB Keith McGill (6’3″, 208, 4.51) is a guy that can (and has) played safety and CB. rated by NFl.com and CBS in the #75 range. Having two possible spots he can play and having pretty loose hips for a guy that size makes him an intriguing choice. Good upside.

      • Ed Schoenfeld

        Thanks Turophile. That size/speed combo is very interesting. I’ll keep an eye on mcGill.

  • JH9

    I understand your point and I wouldn’t complain if TT drafted Brooks in the 2nd round. However, I’ve watched film on all the top safeties and I do like Bucannon a little better than Brooks.

    Bucannon is bigger, stronger, and just as fast as Brooks. He may lack a little of the cover talent of Brooks, but he has better hands when he makes a play on the ball and brings a bigger hit when he tackles. Overall, I believe every year Bucannon will get more turnovers than Brooks and the Packers desperately need more turnovers from the S position.

    • http://TalkinPackers Yoop

      I would be happy with either, really all four of them.
      I give Bucannon an edge in ball skills, And with his size he has more pop in tackling, but I like Brooks in coverage more.

    • Stroh

      Bucannon isn’t as fast as Brooks. Brooks ran 4.42 and Bucannon 4.49, but Brooks also plays a lot faster probably due to his experience playing CB. Bucannon is too stiff and would get exposed in coverage too easily to be worth a 2nd rd pick IMO. Maybe 3rd but not 2nd for Bucannon.

    • JH9

      College career stats:
      Brooks
      126 tackles, 88 solo, 9.5 TFL, 3 FF
      5 interceptions, 15 deflections
      Bucannon
      384 tackles 268 solo, 13.5 TFL, 7 FF
      14 interceptions, 14 deflections

    • JH9

      College career stats:
      Brooks
      126 tackles, 88 solo, 9.5 TFL, 3 FF
      5 interceptions, 15 deflections
      Bucannon
      384 tackles 268 solo, 13.5 TFL, 7 FF
      14 interceptions, 14 deflections

  • http://allgbp.com Jersey Al

    Would love to see Bucannon as a Packers, but the whispers are the Pats are in love and would consider him in Round 1.

    • JH9

      If Bucannon isn’t available when the Packers pick in the 2nd round, I can live with Brooks… Damn the Pats!

      • http://TalkinPackers Yoop

        Everyone is so focused on the top players and really there isn’t much coverage on anything but the top players, but there are a lot of good players that just don’t get enough love later in the draft.
        This draft is a very good draft top to bottom, one of the best in 10 or more years for depth of talent.
        There are a quite a few that will be later round picks that can help the Packers right away.

    • SchenySchen

      Al, any concern that Buchannon is too stiff to play coverage on the back end? He’s a big guy and I can see him around the line of scrimmage but he looks really stiff in the video… not much backpedal. GoPack!

      • Stroh

        Your correct about that. I see the same things. I like that he gets/creates turnovers, but first and foremost he has to be able to function in coverage or he is a huge liability. I see him as strictly a box type safety that would be out of place and be victimized in coverage too easily. Just my opinion…

        • JH9

          From professional.scout.com:
          “As impressive as Bucannon’s dominance in run support has been, he is also highly effective in shutting down the passing game. He currently is tied for the national lead among active players with 14 interceptions, tied for third in WSU annals. With the man coverage skills one would expect from a cornerback, and not a safety, he has been a terror in press coverage. Among the 297 passes targeted into his area during his career, he has jammed and/or rerouted his opponents away from 118 of those tosses (39.73%), coupled with recording 14 thefts while deflecting 14 other throws.

          Opposing quarterbacks know they need to account for Bucannon every time he steps on to the field. They have managed to complete just 77 of those 297 targeted passes (25.93%) vs. the strong safety, producing only one touchdown, as he limited his assignments to averages of 9.52 yards per completion and a miniscule 2.47 yards per attempt”

          http://profootball.scout.com/2/1394411.html

          • funcrusher

            Well, you sold me. Guess I’m on the Buchannon train now!

  • Big T

    Maybe this is the year that TT trades out of the 1st and 2nd rounds.

    • Archie

      And drafts S Aaron Rouse in R3? No, he’s already done that!

  • GBPDAN

    This D needs an impact player ASAP and our best bet, Draft wise , is to see who falls to no21. If it’s a first round talented DT, DE, or LB, we have to take him. Hopefully it’s Ha Ha, but I doubt he’s there. The I would like to see our 2nd and one of our 3rds spent on 2 safeties. Spend the other 3rd on a TE or WR, and our 4th on a center. Of course only if the player grades out at those Draft spots.

  • bobalou13

    I’m one of those who believe that Hyde was drafted last year, in reality, to eventually play safety. My hope is that Mosley falls to us at 21 and we draft one of the guys above later on. My favorite would be Dixon from Baylor in the third. Heckuva player. Could be special teams demon.

  • Stroh

    Nice to see someone else is on the Brooks train. I’ve been high on him for about a month or more. IMO he is the most likely Safety the Packers draft. Burnett was drafted to play alongside Collins and Brooks is a close approximation of Collins. Same size, speed, cover ability, and range. He only lacks Collins ball skills. But Collins ball skills weren’t very good early in his career either.

    Brooks is the Ideal Safety for the Packers IMO!

    • SchenySchen

      I had not seen Brooks much. What I love to see is that he appears very rangy and he is a TWO-ARMED tackler. He wrapped up on virtually every tackle. If they grab him at the end of the 2nd, I would be happy. GoPack!

  • Stroh

    Nice to see someone else is on the Brooks train. I’ve been high on him for about a month or more. IMO he is the most likely Safety the Packers draft. Burnett was drafted to play alongside Collins and Brooks is a close approximation of Collins. Same size, speed, cover ability, and range. He only lacks Collins ball skills. But Collins ball skills weren’t very good early in his career either.

    Brooks is the Ideal Safety for the Packers IMO!

  • http://TalkinPackers Yoop

    I got the strangest feeling of Deja Vu from those two.
    {In case it was removed double post}
    I have heard and read in different places that Bucannon could go middle 2nd, I think that is early.
    If both were there, I would take Brooks.
    I like your comparison to Collins coming out. Both 5-11 Brooks 198#, Collins 206#.
    Collins was a touch faster in the 40, but Brooks is quicker.
    I don’t remember if Collins played any Safety coming out of the draft. I don’t think he did.
    At least Brooks has that experience with 2 years at Safety.

    • Stroh

      Not 100% positive, but I believe Collins played Safety in college, not CB. During the draft evaluation process he got classified as a CB due to his size/speed ratio.

      I like that Brooks has played both S and CB. His experience at CB would give the Packers a lot of versatility even tho I think he would mostly be a Deep Safety like Collins was.

  • Archie

    Five years from now, who will be the MVP from this draft class?

    My guess – Anthony Barr, OLB, UCLA.

    It would probably cost GB its R2 pick to move up to the 11th position. Tough call but I would be tempted. If he falls to 15, they might be able to get him by giving up 1, 3A and 5A. That I’d certainly do. Can you imagine CMIII as the 2nd best OLB on this team?!

    W/o a trade, who do I want for GB at pick 21?

    Assuming all the obvious guys are gone, including both top S, it could come down to our choice between CJ Mosley (falling due to concerns that he’s damaged goods) and Ryan Shazier. While most internet pundits favor CJ, Shazier would be my choice. Shazier may take a couple of years to eclipse CJ but with his athleticism, desire, work ethic and health, he is bound to do so by year 3. What does GB need more than great speed in the middle of of their defense? He would be the antidote to Colin K and Russel W. He would make mince meat of Cutler and Matt Forte. What a matchup vs AP!

    So with more than two weeks to go, I remain: Shazier and Niklas 1-2. A trade down in either round would risk both picks.

    3A – the kid from the Badgers would be nice

    3B – Should be good depth at CB position but a S, Ed Reynolds, comes to mind.

    ILB, S, WR and TE – looks good to me in terms of satisfying our primary needs.

    Beginning R4 we can go anywhere we wish in this draft, including QB, OL, ILB, DE, CB etc.

    I know lots of folks are nervous about the C position and there is a chance the Pack could draft one later on but I don’t think they would bite on a C before R3 and even then, only if the right guy fell to tempt them.

    Possible surprise pick at 21 – Kyle Fuller, CB. With the intention of converting him to S. He’s a hybrid CB/S type. Fuller has late R1 value but I just don’t see how you pass on Shazier for Fuller.

    • SchenySchen

      Shazier and Niklas would work for me, although I would be tempted to pick a WR with pick #2 or a S for that matter. I too am not concerned about C and I think that Hyde may work at S but they need to grab at least one more anyway. Currently, I am having trouble because there are a whole slew of ways to run this draft that work for me. The names through 3 rounds seem pretty good. GoPack!

  • funcrusher

    Read the other day that TT’s interested in Pierre Desir as a free safety. Not sure if it’s credible or not, but I’d love if they drafted him whether they move him to FS, or leave him at CB.

    Desir’s a small school guy but he’s got great size (6’1″, 205lbs, 33″ arms), and tore it up at East-West Shrine Game & the Senior Bowl.

  • wagszilla

    We can draft a Safety if we want to,
    We can leave Burnett behind
    ‘Cause your friends don’t cover and if they don’t cover
    Well, they’re no friends of mine

    • SchenySchen

      nice safety dance wagszilla…

    • SchenySchen

      nice safety dance wagszilla…