It has been awhile since we could say that the safety position was a strong point for that particular draft. There have been a few individual prospects that have come out and impressed, but we haven’t seen a class of safeties with as much potential as this one.
A lot of this is based on who declares early this year, but there are several safeties that could hear their names called on day one or two this April.
Eric Reid and TJ McDonald will battle it out for the top spot. Reid has stepped up big this year for an LSU defense that is now missing first round pick Morris Claiborne and Heisman candidate Tyrann Mathieu. McDonald has been the leader of the talented USC defense. He has excelled in deep zone coverage and looks to be a stud over-the-top lockdown safety.
After the top two there is a very talented second tier. Kenny Vacarro of Texas and Robert Lester of Alabama are considered to be more low-zone safeties who can make plays near the line of scrimmage. Lester will be attractive because of how he has filled the role of top draft pick Mark Barron in the Saban defense. Vacarro has shown a knack for making plays on the ball while also being a strong tackler.
Tony Jefferson from Oklahoma is an Earl Thomas-esque deep zone safety that has the agility to cover receivers coming out of slot. Bacarri Rambo has shown he has the athleticism and hard-hitting ability to play in the NFL, but he needs to refine the mental side of the game and his wrap-up ability.
Aside from these big-name guys there are also several late round sleepers that could find themselves making an NFL roster.
Matt Elam from Florida, despite his small stature, isn’t afraid to stick his nose in the running game and combines that toughness with quickness covering his deep zones. Shamarko Thomas from Syracuse is a very talented safety playing on a very untalented defense without much playing in front of him. John Boyett is a tough, rangy safety from Oregon who makes up for his size with intelligence and a nose for the ball.
The 2013 safety class looks like the deepest class we have seen for years. The top of the draft may not have any stars like Eric Berry, Earl Thomas, or Mark Barron, but the depth and versatility of the prospects make this an intriguing group.