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Top Five 2015 NFL Draft Prospects- Safety

Updated on February 4, 2015

These guys are he last line of defense and will be required to both play up at the line and cover receivers down field. Today I rank the top five safety prospects for the upcoming NFL Draft.

1. Landon Collins, Alabama

Bio: In two years as a starter, Landon Collins was a reliable defender in the Alabama secondary. As a junior, he led the team in tackles and finished his Crimson Tide career with five interceptions.

Strengths: Thick safety with a no-nonsense demeanor. Gets high to low quickly and is all over the ball. Leverages running backs to sideline and keeps contain. A true force against the run. Tracks and stalks ball carriers with patience. Hits the gas and explodes into his tackles with purpose. Feet are under him and balanced when ready to strike. Aggressive and tough with a desire to intimidate. Disciplined eyes allow him not to be easily moved around field by quarterbacks. Wrap up tackler. Physical enough to match up against tight ends and has the feet to carry big, slot targets. Transitions to throws quickly in zone coverage and limits yards after catch. Finds and tracks ball and times his leaps well. Aggressive in playing the ball and disrupts the catch with his physicality.

Weaknesses: Below average hands. Dropped easy interceptions against SEC opponents. Looked much quicker in 2013 than he did in 2014. Can be beaten in a foot race. Average recovery speed. Sometimes shows too much confidence in recovery speed. Gets caught peeking into backfield and can be beaten over the top after a late jump. Inconsistent route recognition. Beaten for game tying and game winning touchdowns by Ole Miss. Shows some hip stiffness when asked to open up and run.

Projected Round: 1

2. Derron Smith, Fresno State

Bio: Entering his senior year. Derron Smith was the national active leader in interceptions with 14.

Strengths: Productive four year starter. Modern day safety with the ability to play near line or in single high coverage. Has outstanding coverage skills and can mirror in coverage over the slot. Can be physical. Former high school quarterback with above average football intelligence. Instinctive with plus field vision and ability to track ball. Outstanding ball skills with playmaking potential. Thirteen interceptions over sophomore and junior season. Burst to close on boundary throws down the field.

Weaknesses: Undersized. Tried to do too much as a senior for inconsistent Fresno State defense. Ventured beyond prescribed area with mixed results. Will take questionable angles to the ball against run and pass. Short armed with limited high-point ability. Overly reliant on body positioning against big receivers when ball is in the air. NFL tight ends are too big for him in coverage. Too frantic as a tackler. Saw his missed tackle stats spike.

Projected Round: 2-3

3. Anthony Harris, Virginia

Bio: As a junior, Anthony Harris was a first team All-American and was a force for the Cavalier secondary.

Strengths: Instinctive and processes what he sees quickly. Lines up secondary and stays true to coverage responsibilities. Hawks tight ends and anticipates routes. Breaks swiftly on throws taking good angles and contesting with his long arms. Very good hands. Foot quickness and quick twitch to transition laterally and accelerate to contain run. Quickly diagnoses run and glides downhill under control. Stays engaged and interested throughout the game. Produced strong tackle numbers all three seasons as starter. Flashes aptitude to sidestep blockers as a blitzer and when defending screen game.

Weaknesses: Thinly built and lacking bulk to bang. Stiff, upright backpedal. Gives up separation and looks unsure of himself when matched against slot receivers. Can be passive as deep safety, continuing to drift despite play unfolding underneath. Lacks assertive attacking demeanor against blocking wide receivers. Plays upright and loses leverage when tackling. Rubbery arms fail to finish when tackling at an angle.

Projected Round: 2-3

4. Jaquiski Tartt, Samford

Bio: In 2014, Jaquiski Tartt was named to the FCS All-America team after finishing second on the team with 62 tackles, including 53 solo stops. For his career he tallied 277 total tackles, six interceptions, 20 passes defended, and 6.5 tackles for loss.

Strengths: Well built with impressive overall size. Gets downhill quickly from high safety to mix it up in run support. Takes good angles to ball carriers and is an aggressive tackler. Willing to play through pain and compete. Plays with confident, clear eyes to diagnose and handle his responsibilities. Attacks the ball at point of catch to disrupt wide receiver and dislodge the pass.

Weaknesses: Gets caught staring into backfield as a single high safety. Will let post routes get behind him and doesn't feature recovery speed to get back into that play. Becomes overaggressive in space and will overrun tackles. Limited man coverage ability.

Projected Round: 3-4

5. Adrian Amos, Penn State

Bio: With the departure of Adrian Amos to the NFL draft, the Penn State secondary will take time to recover.

Strengths: Athletic with good range. Fluid in space with easy backpedal and smooth hips. Has ability to turn, run and recover when ball is in the air. Good route recognition and trustworthy in coverage and is rarely out of position. Can line up defense and offered versatility in coverage. Played some slot corner in sub packages. Outstanding in zone coverage at Penn State. Can crowd receivers and closes throwing windows. Has twitch to trigger and close on throws.

Weaknesses: Doesn't display great sense of urgency in run support. Takes suspect angles against run from high to low and when lined up near line of scrimmage. Will throw body at runner, but carries no sting behind pads sliding down target and finishing tackle near ankles at times. Average instincts. Overly focused on responsibility and seems unwilling to take chances. Would rather see it than sense it.

Projected Round: 4-5

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