Chris Ransom follow @DraftUtopia Last Updated: April 6, 2018.
Derwin James, S, Florida State Projected Round 1st Round
2017 Season Recap The 6-3 215 lb Derwin James is versatile enough to play strong safety or free safety. After Minkah Fitzpatrick who I put in our 2018 NFL Draft: Cornerback Rankings he's arguably the top defensive back in this class and could get drafted by Tampa Bay as a safety at 7. I listed Minkah as a corner, but he may end up playing safety in the NFL.
Let's focus on Derwin James. He recovered from a season ending injury in 2016 and balled out in 2017. If you exlcude Minkah as a safety like I did you can easily argue that Derwin James is more of a pure safety than Minkah Fitzpatrick.
Derwin James is a very complete safety. He's bigger than both Jamal Adams and Malik Hooker. He's very effective as a safety, but I don't think he's quite as potent in zone coverage as Adams or Hooker even though he's very good on tape.
Derwin James had 49 solo tackles, 35 assisted tackles, 84 total tackles, 11 deflections from pass breakups, 4 quarterback hurries, and 2 interceptions in 2017. Derwin James ran a 4.47 40-time at the 2018 NFL Combine and did 21 reps on the Bench Press at safety. Derwin solidified himself as the top pure safety in this class if you consider Minkah as more of a cornerback like I do.
Derwin James SWOT Report
Strengths: Derwin James is versatile enough to play anywhere at defensive back either field cornerback, boundary cornerback, nickel cornerback, strong safety, or free safety. First round pick Evan Engram looked out of place in 2016 versus Derwin James. Has big hands for a safety.
He can play man coverage, zone coverage, and press coverage. James can play in cover 0, cover 1, cover 2, cover 3, and cover 4. He's got excellent size and strength. Has athleticism. Recovered from a torn meniscus in his right knee in 2016. His speed and agility is back at 100 percent. He has elite quickness and agility. He's got an elite first step and elite acceleration. He's got the makeup speed you want. He can play sideline to sideline. He's never beaten over the top. He's too fast to get behind. This guy is not as versatile as Jamal Adams, but he's so fun to watch on tape. He can get by offensive lineman and be used as a blitzer.
He's got that start stop ability to elude offensive lineman. Wide receivers have trouble getting hands on him. Derwin displays superb instincts. You will rarely catch him biting on play action. Adjusts to coverages very quickly. He has elite ball skills. He's got the hands to snag interceptions. He has elite body control. He's a natural at fighting for the ball. He anticipates when the receivers head will turn. He's such a natural at this. He's a remarkable tackler as well as a hard hitting safety.
He only missed one tackle on tape versus Boston College in 2017. Just like Jamal Adams and Malik Hooker, he's checked out all my boxes at the safety position.
Derwin James is very controlled and very patient. He takes great angles. He's rarely out of position. I ended up giving him the same grade as I gave Malik Hooker last year. He gets back deep into his zone. He reads the quarterbacks eyes. He plays with a lot of discipline. He's just such a good blitzer. He's a natural at applying pressure and he's too fast off the edge. Too strong versus running backs. He's the ultimate chess piece.
You can move him around, you can put him in coverage whether its man coverage, zone coverage, or press coverage. You can match him up against tight ends on passing plays and running backs on running plays as an eighth man in the box. You can put him in the slot as a nickel cornerback. You can play him as a quarterback spy to combat duel threats. You can blitz him off the edge. He's so good at sliding past offensive linemen. He will hold his ground against offensive linemen. You can play Derwin near the line of scrimmage. He will absolutely dominate the game. He will take away your ability to run and throw effectively when you watch him on tape. Extremely high football IQ.
There are so many positives and endless possibilities with Derwin James and that's why he declared for the 2018 NFL Draft despite being a sophomore redshirt. It feels like I'm saying more positive things about him then the other two safeties that headlined last years draft, but Derwin James is a guy that scouts compared to Eric Berry and Earl Thomas at the beginning of the year.
Weaknesses: Derwin James is a three year starter with no weaknesses on tape. He's a complete player in my mind. He may be a better fit at strong safety, but he can play free safety too. I see a pretty complete safety. I had a 97 grade on both Eric Berry and Jamal Adams coming out of LSU. I had a 96 grade on Earl Thomas coming out of Texas and a 96 on Malik Hooker coming out of Ohio State. Derwin James seems to be better medically coming out of college than Malik Hooker was.
Opportunities: 7. Tampa Bay Buccaneers, 8. Chicago Bears, 9. San Francisco 49ers, 13. Washington Redskins, and 17. Los Angeles Chargers. Derwin James probably won't get out of the top half of the draft. If he falls to 17, a team that needs multiple safeties like the Chargers will not hesitate to pull the trigger at 17.
Threats: The one concern with Derwin James was would he check out medically after suffering a torn meniscus in his right knee in 2016. He checked out medically and dominated the 2018 NFL Combine therefore that one concern was put to rest. Derwin James may end up going ahead of Minkah Fitzpatrick even though I got blue chip grades on both defensive backs and consider Minkah as more of a cornerback because I got Minkah graded at 98/99 just like Jalen Ramsey and Derwin James graded at 96/99.
Potential Grade: 96/99
Derwin James had 52 solo tackles, 39 assisted tackles, 91 total tackles, 9.5 tackles for a loss, 4.5 sacks, and 4 deflections from pass breakups in 2015 as a true freshman. James tore his meniscus in his right knee in the opener against Ole Miss after a very strong start versus Evan Engram. Derwin James has all the tools to be a top 10 pick if he recovers from his injury in 2017.
Derwin James can play man coverage, zone coverage, or press coverage. He can play in cover 0, cover 1, cover 2, cover 3, or cover 4. Derwin James is just such a complete safety on tape, and if he shows that in 2017 he will be the first safety drafted in the 2018 NFL Draft.
2017 Season Recap The 6-1 210 lb DeShon Elliott showed the versatility to play both strong safety and free safety in 2017. DeShon Elliott had 50 solo tackles, 13 assisted tackles, 63 total tackles, 9 deflections from pass breakups, 8.5 tackles for a loss, and 6 interceptions in 2017.
DeShon Elliott SWOT Report
Strengths: DeShon Elliott plays like a center fielder when it comes to dropping back into coverage. He can play man coverage, zone coverage, and press coverage. Elliott can play in cover 0, cover 1, cover 2, cover 3, and cover 4. His coverage on tape is incredible to the point where some like his coverage better than Derwin James at times. This is easily the biggest reason why Elliott is a first round safety. Possesses big hands for a safety at 10 1/2 inches.
DeShon Elliott has the hands to snag interceptions. He's got superb eye hand coordinaton as well. He may not possess the patience that Derwin James has. He makes up for that with his hard hitting on tape though. Derwin James only had 3 career interceptions at Florida State while Elliott had 6 interceptions last season alone at Texas in 2017.
DeShon Elliott jumps like a cornerback. He made a one handed deflection intended for Allen Lazard versus Iowa State by leaping in the air. Elliott is a turnover machine. He forced a fumble on a pass intended for Oklahoma tight end Mark Andrews when Andrews caught it and ran the ball Elliott's way. He was a finalist for the Jim Thorpe Award along with Minkah Fitzpatrick and my top ranked cornerback Josh Jackson. Has a really high football IQ.
Weaknesses: Doesn't have the vision of patience that Derwin James has. He's got 4.5 speed instead of 4.4 speed. He also has stiff hips. Some consider this an issues. Misses tackles from time to time. Missed a tackle on fourth down versus Allen Lazard in his tape versus Iowa State.
Opportunities: 17. Los Angeles Chargers, 19. Dallas Cowboys, 24. Carolina Panthers, 26. Atlanta Falcons, and 28. Pittsburgh Steelers. I've seen other draft sites put second and third round grades on him. NFL.com projects Elliott as a backup, but they put no reasoning behind why he's a backup so I'm going by my own awesome evaluation and ignoring theirs because that writeup on Elliott sucked due to a lack of details unlike our SWOT reports at Draft Utopia which kick fucking ass.
Threats: DeShon Elliott is a one year starter. So you can argue he's raw for that reason. The 2017 season was Elliott's first full season as a starting safety. Elliott doesn't have the ceiling of a blue chip safety like Derwin James, but he's more durable in my opinion and that has to count for something.
Potential Grade: 95/99
DeShon Elliott played on special teams in his freshman season at Texas. He played in all 12 games as a sophomore, but only started 1 game. He showed promise with 4 deflections from pass breakups and 1 interception in his one start. Elliott will be a starting safety in 2017. He could surge up boards with a huge season when you consider Texas has a great track record for developing safeties.
Ronnie Harrison, S, Alabama Projected Round 1st Round
2017 Season Recap The 6-2 207 lb Ronnie Harrison is versatile enough to play strong safety or free safety. Harrison had 43 solo tackles, 31 assisted tackles, 74 total tackles, 4.5 tackles for a loss, 4 deflections from pass breakups, 3 interceptions, and 2.5 sacks in 2017.
Ronnie Harrison SWOT Report
Strengths: Ronnie Harrison is a great run stuffer. He has the speed you want in a safety. I'm talking about both his foot speed and makeup speed. He can play man coverage, zone coverage, and press coverage. Harrison can play in cover 0, cover 1, cover 2, cover 3, and cover 4. Ronnie Harrison is a reamarkable blitzer who can use his hard hitting to make a big play. Has 4.4 speed. He has a quick pedal with his foot speed and remarkable eyes when it comes to reading the quarterback. He punches well and knows how to discard blockers which is another reason why Harrison is a remarkable blitzer. Has a high football IQ.
Weaknesses: Even though Ronnie Harrison can play in any type of coverage he doesn't always cover consistently. He still covers effectively on a majority of plays which is why he's still a late first round prospect. Part of this is due to the fact that Harrison takes the wrong angle sometimes. I've also seen him fatigue on tape at times. This was an issue in 2016, but he corrected it in 2017. He relies on unleashing hard hits with his shoulder. Needs to become more consistent when it comes to wrapping up tackles. Even though I got a late first on Ronnie Harrison, he's rawer than the two safeties on this list and there is a reason why people have a second round grade on him. He lacks the patience you want a safety to have and gets too impulsive at times.
Opportunities: 24. Carolina Panthers, 26. Atlanta Falcons, , 28. Pittsburgh Steelers, 30. Minnesota Vikings, and 39. Chicago Bears. Ronnie Harrison is a late first round prospect for me. There is an outside chance he slips to the second round.
Threats: There are no threats with Ronnie Harrison. He's aced every part of the draft process. The one concern with Harrison is that he has just as many weaknesses as he has strengths. That may concern teams to a degree, but overall, Harrison is probably the most durable and experienced of the three first round safeties and that's why my verdict is that Ronnie Harrison is a late first round pick after careful deliberation.
Potential Grade: 93/99
Ronnie Harrison had 6 deflections from pass breakups in his first season as a backup safety at Alabama. He also dominated on special teams that year in 2015. Harrison earned a starting safety spot next to Eddie Jackson in 2016. Harrison had 56 solo tackles, 29 assisted tackles, 85 total tackles, 7 deflections from pass breakups, and 2 interceptions after taking over as the leader on that defense after Eddie Jackson suffered a season ending injury. Harrison will be a first round pick if he duplicates that level of play in 2017.
2017 Season Recap The 6-0 207 lb Justin Reid is smaller than you'd like him to be. He may get drafted before his older brother Eric Reid gets signed to a deal as a Free Agent.
He frustrated the top 2 quarterbacks in the 2018 NFL Draft in Sam Darnold and Josh Rosen. Justin Reid had 52 solo tackles, 49 assisted tackles, 99 total tackles, 6.5 tackles for a loss, 6 deflections from pass breakups, and 5 interceptions in 2017. Showed the versatility to play nickel cornerback, strong safety, or free safety.
Justin Reid SWOT Report
Strengths: Justin Reid is very effective in zone coverage and press coverage. He provides first round zone coverage when lining up at both strong safety and free safety. Can play cover 2, cover 3, or cover 4 effectively. Has 4.4 speed. Has excellent ball skills and play recognition for a safety. Extremely high football IQ. Team captain with superb leadership. Knows how to communicate and call plays for the defense. Scouts like his zone coverage and press coverage more than his older brother which says a lot since his older brother was drafted in the first round of the 2013 NFL Draft.
Weaknesses: Justin Reid cannot play man coverage. He gets torched by slot receivers. He will struggle with cover 0 and cover 1 assignments. His backpedal needs work as well, but overall he's sound in coverage as far as zone and press go. If he could play man coverage he would have the best floor outside of Derwin James as far as being a safe pick goes.
Opportunities: 37. Tampa Bay Buccaneers, 39. Chicago Bears, 46. Cincinnati Bengals, 48. Los Angeles Chargers, and 50. Dallas Cowboys. Justin Reid is a second round talent. He's a top 50 talent despite not having the man coverage you want a defensive back to have. There are too many positive qualities with his tape and I think there is an outside chance he gets picked in the back half of the first round.
Threats: There are no threats with Justin Reid. Justin Reid should be a top 50 pick in the 2018 NFL Draft.
Potential Grade: 90/99
Justin Reid finally became a starting safety in 2016. Reid had 7 deflections in his first season as a full time starter. If Eric Reid's little brother has another strong season in 2017, he could go in the first round just like his older brother.
Kyzir White, S, West Virginia Projected Round 2nd Round
2017 Season Recap The 6-2 216 lb Kyzir White can play strong safety or free safety with his versatility. He may be a better strong safety, but he is capable of playing in both safety roles.
Kyzir White had 66 solo tackles, 26 assisted tackles, 94 total tackles, 7.5 tackles for a loss, 4 deflections from pass breakups, 4 quarterback hurries, and 3 interceptions in 2017. White also dominated the 2018 Senior Bowl too.
I got tape of Kyzir White up on my Youtube channel for Draft Utopia. This tape features my SWOT report on White as well as Ryan Romero's SEA report. We're probably just gonna put SWOT reports and Ryan's SEA reports in videos next year knowing it can save space and make our articles that much quicker even though it may take longer to get tape up on Youtube by editing it.
Kyzir White SWOT Report
Strengths: Extremely hard hitter. Hits like a WWE wrestler or MMA Fighter. Literally lays people out when he hits them. Is capable of playing cover 2, cover 3, or cover 4. Dominates in zone coverage. Very active against the run. Versatile enough to play both strong safety and free safety.
Weaknesses: Does not play man coverage or press coverage well. Will strictly rely on zone coverage. Has trouble wrapping up tackles at times. Needs to correct this. Struggles to win blocks and gets bullied constantly by offensive lines. Runs into his own teammates. I'm not sure he has the football IQ to make it at the next level despite having the ceiling of a Pro Bowl safety.
Opportunities: 46. Cincinnati Bengals, 50. Dallas Cowboys, 55. Carolina Panthers, 58. Atlanta Falcons, 64. Cleveland Browns. There are a lot of teams in the second round that could use Kyzir White as a starter, heck even a team like the Cleveland Browns could add White for depth behind Randall and Peppers in the second round if he makes it to 64. I see a player with Pro Bowl potential. I also see someone who is raw and may not be able to start right away and that's why White may drop to the third round. He's a day 2 pick, but he may fall to the third even though I got a second round grade on him.
Threats: Kyzir is a pretty safe prospect as far as tape goes. I just wish he had more athleticism. He did not work out at the 2018 NFL Combine despite dominating the 2018 Senior Bowl. So its possible that he drops to the third round if scouts question his work ethic and passion to play football.
Potential Grade: 90/99
Kyzir White began his college career at Lackawanna College in Scranton, PA for his first two years. The younger brother of Kevin White tranferred to West Virginia in 2016 after being the top JUCO player in the state of Pennsylvania following a stellar 2015 campaign.
2017 Season Recap The 5-10 191 lb Armani Watts showed he could be the man without his teammate Justin Evans next to him at strong safety. Armani Watts had 57 solo tackles, 30 assisted tackles, 87 total tackles, 10 tackles for a loss, 5 deflections from pass breakups, and 4 interceptions in 2017. Armani Watts had a great 2018 Senior Bowl week despite being undersized.
Armani Watts SWOT Report
Strengths: Armani Watts is outstanding in man, zone, and press coverage. Watts can play in cover 0, cover 1, cover 2, cover 3, and cover 4. He's a fantastic run stuffer with 10 tackles for a loss in 2017. He can be quite the effective blitzer. Has a tremendous football IQ. Has the strength to hit hard and execute tackles.
Weaknesses: Armani Watts is limited to a pure free safety role. He never lined up at strong safety. The other thing that may worry some teams is that he's a streaky tackler. I'm not as concerned about this as most NFL Scouts because he only got beat in coverage once versus UCLA and didn't miss a single tackle in his 2017 tape against Josh Rosen. Struggled to keep up with Derrius Guice. May possess 4.5 speed instead of 4.4 speed.
Opportunities: 58. Atlanta Falcons, 76. Green Bay Packers, 81. Dallas Cowboys, 84. Los Angeles Chargers, and 85. Carolina Panthers. Armani Watts is a second round prospect. There is a very realistic chance he falls to the third round if Atlanta passes on him though. That's why he's really a second to third round prospect when you put things into perspective.
Threats: Armani Watts is one of the safest free safety prospects in the 2018 NFL Draft. He's limited to a free safety role though and that will limit his opportunties. He suffered a season ending injury in 2016, but played in 2017 so he checks out medically now. Teams should be aware of his previous injury history, but should not be concerned by his durability.
Potential Grade: 88/99
Armani Watts came in during the 2014 season and had 8 deflections from pass breakups and 3 interceptions as a true freshman. Watts showed he could be a tackling machine as a true sophomore with 83 solo tackles, 43 assisted tackles, 126 total tackles as a sophomore in 2015. Watts showed a lot of promise in 2016. He suffered a season ending injury and chose to return to school for his senior season.
Jessie Bates III, S, Wake Forest Projected Round 3rd Round
2017 Season Recap The 6-1 200 lb safety has superb coverage. He needs to get stronger. He did much better at his Pro Day after having an okay 2018 NFL Combine where he showed good ability to adjust and move his hips, but struggled with his 40-time.
I got tape of Jessie Bates III up on my Youtube channel for Draft Utopia. This tape features my SWOT report on Jessie Bates. You can also click this link on The Evolution Network to hear a full sypnosis on Jessie Bates III with Joseph Potter the co-host of my podcast giving his full thoughts on Jessie Bates III.
Jessie Bates III SWOT Report
Strengths: Versatile enough to play strong safety, free safety, or nickel cornerback. Plays man coverage, zone coverage, and press coverage effectively. Knows how cover 0, cover 1, cover 2, cover 3, and cover 4 schemes work. Jessie Bates III has tremendous range and athleticism on tape. I love how he takes up a lot of space in coverage. His agility is through the roof as well. He may be the best center fielder in this class despite his flaws on tape.
Displays a high football IQ. Great tackler and even better communicator. Is a tackling machine. Had 70 solo tackles, 30 assisted tackles, and 100 total tackles as a freshman redshirt in 2016.
Weaknesses: He looks smaller than 6-1 200 lbs. He's not physical enough as far as strength goes. He's too lanky at this time. Despite having sound coverage, Jessie Bates III has a tendency to miss tackles on tape. He got stiff armed by Christian Kirk. He has 4.5 speed instead of 4.4 speed. He will struggle against bigger and faster receiving tight ends in the NFL. Tight ends like Rob Gronkowski and Travis Kelce will be able to pick apart Jessie Bates III and make it look effortless on tape.
Opportunities: 76. Green Bay Packers, 86. Kansas City Chiefs, 90. Atlanta Falcons, 95. New England Patriots, and 120. Seattle Seahawks. Jessie Bates III is being hyped up by the media as a first to second round prospect. Let me be the first to tell you that he's not. Joey and myself went way more in depth on Bates then someone like Daniel Jeremiah at NFL Network so he's a third to fourth round prospect from what I've seen on tape.
If he had more strength on tape and actually did the bench press at the NFL Combine, maybe I'd be in agreement with Jeremiah, but the point is he's a third to fourth round guy getting first to second round hype. I like him as a starter down the road, but he's raw right now and needs to go to a team that will develop him for the future if he hopes to have any chance to succeed in the NFL.
Threats: My biggest concern with Bates is that he goes to a team where he will get to develop his strength. If a team drafts him and expects him to start right away, it will be an absolute disaster. I had an 85 potential grade on him before he dominated Wake Forest's Pro Day. I now have an 86 potential grade on Jessie Bates III, but he's still a project for me.
Potential Grade: 86/99
Jessie Bates III redshirted in 2015. He came in and dominated with 70 solo tackles, 30 assited tackles, and 100 total tackles as a freshman redshirt in 2016. If he builds on that in 2017 he could be a riser to keep an eye on.
Jordan Whitehead, S, Pittsburgh Projected Round 3rd Round
2017 Season Recap The 5-11 190 lb Jordan Whitehead can play nickel cornerback, strong safety, or free safety. He's extremely versatile and that's why I think he will still get picked in the late part of the third round.
Jordan Whitehead missed the first three games for Pittsburgh in 2017 due to a suspension for a DUI. Whitehead had 41 solo tackles, 19 assisted tackles, 60 total tackles, 4 deflections from pass breakups, and 1 interception in 2017.
Jordan Whitehead SWOT Report
Strengths: Jordan Whitehead can play man coverage, zone coverage, and press coverage. You can put him in a cover 0, cover 1, cover 2, cover 3, or cover 4 scheme. He can be a force at the line of scrimmage, perhaps even a bigger force at the line of scrimmage than Derwin James. He's terrific against the run too. Has a tremendous football IQ.
Weaknesses: Struggles when teams use play action passes. Also has a tendency to take bad angles when making tackles. See the Virginia Tech game where he missed a tackle on Cam Phillips. Despite having a great football IQ, one thing he doesn't show enough are the instincts you want a safety to have.
Opportunities: 97. Arizona Cardinals, 102. Tampa Bay Buccaneers, 109. Washington Redskins, 112. Cincinnati Bengals, and 120. Seattle Seahawks. I have a third round grade on Jordan Whitehead at the moment. He may fall to the fourth round if Arizona passes on him.
Threats: Jordan Whitehead had a DUI back in the Summer. He missed the first three games with suspensions. He also didn't run his 40 time until Pittsburgh's Pro Day. Scouts and teams may have questions about his work ethic.
Potential Grade: 85/99
Jordan Whitehead began his career with 74 solo tackles, 34 assisted tackles, 6 deflections from pass breakups, and 6 tackles for a loss as a true freshman in 2015. Jordan Whitehead still played well in 2016, but didn't have the kind of season he had in 2015. He already is gonna miss the first three games due to a DUI. He was a first round prospect prior to a DUI.
Troy Apke, S, Penn State Projected Round 4th Round
2017 Season Recap The 6-1 198 lb Troy Apke is versatile enough to play strong safety or free safety. Apke finally became a starting safety in 2018. His coverage is better than teammate Marcus Allen's despite being a one-year starter.
Troy Apke SWOT Report
Strengths: Troy Apke can play man coverage, zone coverage, and press coverage. You can put him in a cover 0, cover 1, cover 2, cover 3, or cover 4 scheme. MVP of the NFLPA Bowl. Ran the fastest 40-time for a safety at the 2018 NFL Combine with a 4.35 40-time. He was a punt returner in High School and with his speed he could play on special teams and work his way up the lineup.
Weaknesses: Needs a lot of space to play well. Struggles with coverage in the red zone especially near the goal line. Has trouble wrapping up tackles.
Opportunities: 102. Tampa Bay Buccaneers, 109. Washington Redskins, 112. Cincinnati Bengals, 116. Dallas Cowboys, and 120. Seattle Seahawks. Troy Apke is a top 120 talent. He'd be a top 60 talent if he had more than one year of experience as a starter and did better with wrapping up tackles.
Threats: Troy Apke is a one year starter. This is the biggest concern with Troy Apke.
Potential Grade: 85/99
Troy Apke played wide receiver and punt returner at Mt. Lebanon High School. When he was at Mt. Lebanon, he'd get 10 yards of separation on a corner or safety due to his speed. He moved to safety once he got to Penn State and started out on special teams before working his way up the starting lineup. Started one game as a sophomore and two games as a junior in relief due to injuries. Enters his first season as a starter in 2017 and needs a big year if he wants to get drafted.
Dane Cruikshank, S, Arizona Projected Round 3rd Round
2017 Season Recap The 6-1 209 lb Dane Cruikshank can play nickel cornerback, strong safety, or free safety. Dane Cruikshank is probably the most versatile safety not named Minkah Fitzpatrick or Derwin James in this draft.
Dane Cruikshank SWOT Report
Strengths: Dane Cruikshank can play man coverage, zone coverage, and press coverage. You can put him in a cover 0, cover 1, cover 2, cover 3, or cover 4 scheme. Displays 4.4 speed. Also displays incredible strength. Did 25 reps on the bench press at the 2018 NFL Combine. Dane has a lot of self confidence in himself as he referred to himself as the ultimate chess piece.
Weaknesses: I really don't see any weaknesses in the tape. He looked like he could line up everywhere on the secondary and be a complete chess piece.
Opportunities: 109. Washington Redskins, 110. Oakland Raiders, 112. Cincinnati Bengals, 116. Dallas Cowboys, and 135. Los Angeles Rams. Dane Cruikshank is a fourth round talent. The only question is where does Dane Cruikshank get picked in the fourth round.
Threats: Dane Cruikshank had 9 pass interference penalties in 2016. He cut back on this in 2017 though. It's still a threat even if its more of a minor concern than a major threat.
Potential Grade: 85/99
Dane Cruikshank struggled in 2016. He could get drafted if he pulls a complete 180 in 2017 because he's very versatile. He just needs to grow and get better in coverage.
Terrell Edmunds, S, Virginia Tech Projected Round 5th Round
2017 Season Recap The 6-0 217 lb Terrell Edmunds played both strong safety and free safety in 2017. He looked like a third round pick versus West Virginia, but showed the production of a seventh round pick. That's why I got a fifth round grade on him.
Terrell Edmunds SWOT Report
Strengths: Terrell Edmunds can play man coverage, zone coverage, and press coverage. You can put him in a cover 0, cover 1, cover 2, cover 3, or cover 4 scheme. Edmunds is a hard hitter with elite jumping 41 inch vertical and outstanding speed 4.4.
Weaknesses: He misses a lot of tackles. He also takes bad angles. Lacks the vision to be a three down safety in the NFL.
Opportunities: I got a fifth round grade on Terrell Edmunds. He's not a starter in my opinion, but he could be a nice safety addition for depth.
Threats: Terrell Edmunds got injured near the end of the season. How is he going to check out medically. That's a question moving forward.
Potential Grade: 81/99
Terrell Edmunds had 45 solo tackles, 44 asssited tackles, and 89 total tackles in 2016. He has the athleticism too and can creep up boards if he builds on that in 2017.
Quin Blanding, S, Virginia Projected Round 5th Round
2017 Season Recap The 6-2 209 lb Quin Blanding may be the best tackling machine when it comes to safeties in this draft. He's someone that can get over 100 total tackles on a consistent basis. The problem is he's got 4.6 speed which is why he's projected as a backup safety sin the NFL.
Quin Blanding had 62 solo tackles, 75 assisted tackles, and 137 total tackles in 2017. Blanding also had 4 interceptions. His stats were great, but he needed help with a lot of tackles which is something to take into consideration here.
Quin Blanding SWOT Report
Strengths: Quin Blanding can play zone coverage. You can put him in a cover 2, cover 3, or cover 4 scheme.
Weaknesses: Blanding's man and press coverage took a huge step back in 2017. Lacks the physical ability to be an effective tackler. Needed help from teammates to make tackles. Has 4.6 speed.
Opportunities: I got a fifth round grade on Quin Blanding. He's not as fast as you'd like him to be.
Threats: I don't see any threats with Quin Blanding. I also don't see any upside with him either.
Potential Grade: 81/99
Quin Blanding had 70 solo tackles, 50 assisted tackles, and 120 total tackles as a junior in 2016. If Blanding builds on that he could move up draft boards.
2017 Season Recap The 5-11 213 lb Godwin Igwebuike is versatile enough to play strong safety or free safety. Godwin Igwebuike had 51 solo tackles, 27 assisted tackles, 78 total tackles, and 9 deflections from pass breakups in 2017.
Godwin Igwebuike SWOT Report
Strengths: Godwin Igwebuike has the speed and athleticism to play safety in the NFL. He's versatile enough to play strong safety or free safety too as mentioned. Got voted team captain in 2017. Has terrific leadership and communication skills.
Weaknesses: Lacks the consistent man coverage, zone coverage, and press coverage you want your safety to have. Will be limited to a strong safety role in the NFL. Has trouble wrapping up tackles. Takes bad angles.
Opportunities: I got a sixth round grade on Godwin Igwebuike. Who knows where he ends up though.
Threats: Godwin Igwebuike is a safe prospect. He just has the ceiling of a backup. Some like his teammate Kyle Queiro better, but I got Godwin Igwebuike graded slightly higher even though both Northwestern safeties got the same overall grade.
Potential Grade: 80/99
Godwin Igwebuike enters his third season as a starting safety. He got voted team captain for 2017.
2017 Season Recap The 6-3 220 lb Kyle Queiro is incredibly versatile. Queiro played both strong safety and free safety. Some believe he can convert to outside linebacker in the NFL as well. Queiro had 12 deflections from pass breakups and 4 interceptions in 2017.
Kyle Queiro SWOT Report
Strengths: Kyle Queiro has the man coverage, zone coverage, and press coverage you want your safety to have. He's great at defending against the run too as he got a tackle for a loss on Saquon Barkley.
Weaknesses: Ran a 4.71 40-time at Northwestern's Pro Day. That may cause him to go undrafted, but his tape is what you need to look at.
Opportunities: I got a sixth round grade on Kyle Queiro. Who knows where he ends up though.
Threats: Kyle Queiro was the only safety on my rankings not to get an invite to the 2018 NFL Combine.
Potential Grade: 80/99
Kyle Queiro didn't start until 2016. He's not as experienced as Godwin Igwebuike as he enters his second season as a starter in 2017.
Damon Webb, S, Ohio State Projected Round 7th Round
2017 Season Recap The 5-10 184 lb Damon Webb had 44 solo tackles, 17 assisted tackles, 61 total tackles, 5 interceptions, and 3 deflections from pass breakups in 2017. Webb accepted an invite to the 2018 East West Shrine Game and did well there.
Damon Webb SWOT Report
Strengths: Damon Webb has the man coverage, zone coverage, and press coverage you want a safety to have. He's also versatile enough to play either safety role. Knows cover 0, cover 1, cover 2, cover 3, and cover 4 schemes.
Weaknesses: Damon Webb lacks the size and speed to be an NFL starter. He ran a 4.62 at the 2018 NFL Combine.
Opportunities: I got a seventh round grade on Damon Webb. After the top ten safeties there is a huge drop off between the two ACC safeties, then you got the Northwestern safeties, and then you got Damon Webb to wrap up my top 15.
Threats: I don't think there is a threat with Damon Webb. As far as upside goes he's going to be fighting for a roster spot as a backup safety.
Potential Grade: 72/99
Damon Webb played next to Malik Hooker in 2016. With Hooker gone, Webb becomes the leader on Ohio State's secondary.