A Prospect For Each Round: Safety

Josh Evans is an intriguing mid-round developmental free safety prospect in this year’s class. (Photo: US Presswire)

NEPD Editor: Matthew Jones

New England recently added Adrian Wilson to their group of safeties, signing the twelve-year veteran to a three-year contract; however, they still have room for another player. Read on to find out who the Patriots may target if they deem the safety position a target area in April.

1. Kenny Vaccaro, Texas

Vaccaro will probably be off the board by the time New England picks in the first round, but the Patriots probably shouldn’t consider any other options. After running a 4.63 in Indianapolis, teams may question Vaccaro’s range as a free safety, which could cause him to slide. If he’s available, New England fans may be looking at the next Pat Chung, a versatile safety who can cover in the slot but must improve his consistency, especially as a tackler.

2. Johnathan Cyprien, Florida International

A four-year starter, Cyprien has been getting a lot of hype and could easily go in the thirty-to-forty range in April. If he doesn’t slip, New England may be out of luck if they are targeting a safety in the second round, as Louisiana State’s Eric Reid and Florida’s Matt Elam should be long gone by the time the Patriots are on the clock. Cyprien could provide a physical in-the-box presence at strong safety.

3. Phillip Thomas, Fresno St.

Thomas played free safety at Fresno State, and projects there at the next level as well. He can do a little bit of everything; drop into high-zone coverage, defend the slot, and support the run. He has ideal size for the position and would fit well as a backup to Devin McCourty. Thomas may slip to the third round because of concerns regarding his ability to tackle in the open field, as well as his below-average 40-yard dash time (4.65.)

4. Josh Evans, Florida

Evans possesses all the measurables evaluators look for in a pro safety; at 6’1” and 207 pounds, he has prototypical size for the free safety position, and his 4.54 time in the 40-yard dash and 6.64 second three-cone drill are both starting-caliber as well. His combination of movement skills and aggressive run support could earn him a spot in a professional starting lineup at some point as long as he is able to minimize mental errors.

5. Duke Williams, Nevada

Williams is worth drafting even higher than this, but New England may be able to wait and pick him midway through the draft’s third day. At 5’11” and 201 pounds, Williams ran an impressive 4.41 second 40-yard dash; he should be able to play either free safety or strong safety at the next level, and some scouts have been projecting him to cornerback. He is a rangy, physical safety with appealing diagnostic ability and tackling skills.

6. Robert Lester, Alabama

Lester’s lack of athleticism will likely prevent him from ever developing into a quality starter at the next level, but he could make sense as a New England Patriots draft target because of his familiarity in Nick Saban’s similar defensive scheme. His size, physicality, and intelligence could help New England develop a more feared secondary, and he also possesses considerable ball skills. Look for Lester to follow in the footsteps of fellow Crimson Tide alum Roman Harper.

7. Jahleel Addae, Central Michigan

Addae was a three-year starter at Central Michigan, where his muscular physique helped him develop into an effective in-the-box strong safety. He projects as a backup at the next level, but with quick reaction times, a controlled backpedal, and fluid movement skills, he could enjoy a long career in the NFL. He offers some additional value as a blitzing safety; during his time with the Chippewas, he recorded 3.5 sacks.

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20 Responses to “A Prospect For Each Round: Safety”

  1. Ken W says:

    Sign me up for TJ McDonald in the 3rd. Heres why:
    – Former NFL players son
    – Team captain
    – Size/Speed combo
    – Versatility: did a lot of different things for USC
    – Good Special Teams guy (blocked several punts and field goals)

    Has a lot of things Pats look for in players.

  2. Ken W says:

    I think the best value for a saftey this year is in the 3-6 round. I don’t think there is a huge difference between guys that will go in the 2nd and a guy that goes in the 4th.

    Out of the players on the list I think Duke Williams and Robert Lester would be great value picks. To bad the Pats don’t have a 4-6 round pick this year so they would have to do some moving.

  3. ER says:

    Why would we want to spend a 1st Rd pick on “the next Patrick Chung”? Didn’t we just let him walk in free agency?

    • MatthewJones says:

      Yes, but he’s still the most likely pick for New England at that point, at least in terms of who I believe Belichick would prefer given the available talent.

  4. Bobby says:

    Wow russ you actually made an educated, rational, sane comment for once

  5. Russell Easterbrooks says:

    I do not see the Patriots drafting a S, as the Roster has 4 already, and CB is a bigger need, wth our limited draft picks. The signing of WR Jenkins today, makes me think any drafted WR will be 3d round.
    It looks more and more like DT, CB, OLB in the draft.

    • qazmlpgh says:

      I don’t think Jenkins is good enough that he eliminates the need for WR early in the draft. He is a depth option, IMO.

    • cc says:

      Agreed no Safety needed with the
      McCourty, T.Wilson,
      A.Wilson, S.Gregory set up.
      I also think since 2 CFL D.Tackles were put in between a third….”rookie” M. Forsten.
      M. Pryor- an injury prone backup.
      B. Deaderick- a decent “backup” for where he was gotten ( but a backup nevertheless ).
      Kyle Love- Showed Promise, but proven to be respectively “unreliable and NOT the answer”.

      ….that’s 6 DT’s IMO all fighting for a spot alongside Vince Wilfork & a very much needed Top Tier Draft Pick at the DT possition!

    • bmp1113 says:

      The pats my still go safety which would give them the ability to move dmc to corner if they need too. WR is still a top need.

  6. Jeff M says:

    Yeah I’m surprised there’s no mention of Swearinger, Rambo or TJ McDonald on here. All are potential targets heading to the back of the 3rd round. Not to mention Tony Jefferson…

    • MatthewJones says:

      Not sure New England would draft Jefferson given his lack of measurables and character concerns (negative reviews by Oklahoma’s coaching staff regarding his work ethic.) Rambo may be too much of a freelancer, while McDonald isn’t a good prospect in my opinion; he seems to lack football awareness. I could see Swearinger, maybe in the third round if available.

  7. AM says:

    Any of the top three would be a great pick, but the one name I would like to see on this list is D.J. Swearinger. He seems to be the best of both worlds in terms of a strong/free safety combo. I’ve seen him going anywhere from early second to early fifth; any thoughts on where he lands?

  8. J H TARBORO says:

    Johnathan Cyprien Fl. International
    Dj Swearinger SS S.Carolina
    Tj McDonald FS USC / Philip Thomas Fresno St.
    Shamarko Thomas SS Syracuse
    Ray Ray Armstrong SS Faulkner
    Rontez Miles SS Cal. (Pa.)

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