Putting together the Big Board: Safeties

The Patriots have used plenty of resources on the safety positions in recent years. Will they continue to do so in this years draft?

The Patriots have used plenty of resources on the safety positions in recent years. Will they continue to do so in this years draft?

NEPD Staff Writer: Mike Gerken


I am not going to lie to any of you. I don’t like scouting the safety positions at all.  First off, without access to all-22 film, it is really hard to see where and how these players are lining up.  This also makes it difficult to figure out what scheme they may be running and what their responsibilities are from play to play.  From there, you can watch an entire game and that safety prospect may have only been involved in a handful of plays.  This all adds up to a time consuming position that remains unclear if you can find enough tape on players to feel comfortable writing about.  That being said, I have done my best to sift through and find some players that are good fits for the Patriots.


Current Roster: FS-Devin McCourty, Nate Ebner

                                 SS-Patrick Chung, Duron Harmon, Tavon Wilson

Position need: Medium to Low

Position Overview:

With the Patriots resigning Devin McCourty this offseason, they bring back their starting duo at both safety positions.  Patrick Chung had a resurgence to his career after he struggled in his first go around with the Patriots.  Duron Harmon saw his role expand somewhat this past season, but both he and Tavon Wilson have not lived up to their draft pick status.  I don’t think drafting a safety is a huge need for the team, but I could see the Patriots addressing the position in day 2 or 3 of the draft.  The team could be looking for a better option to back up Devin McCourty if something should happen to him, or they could look at options for Chung should he regress.  Overall this draft class is weak and I expect teams to reach for players.  The Patriots have left many of us scratching our heads when it comes to the guys they have drafted at the position, but maybe this year will be different. (yeah right!)


Draftable Options, FS:

Damarious Randall, Arizona State (5’11”, 196 Lbs.) Late 2nd/Early 3rd

Randall has impressive speed and is very aggressive.  He plays much bigger than his size would indicate. He shows good movement, footwork and cover skills to play free safety in the NFL.  Can be too aggressive at times and will bite on play fakes and double moves.  Loves to hit but needs to wrap up better when making tackles.  Randall gets his hands on a lot of balls, but doesn’t always finish the play.

Adrian Amos, Penn State (6’0″, 218 Lbs.) 4th round

Amos has a nice combination of size and speed.  He moves in and out of his breaks well and even played some slot corner in college.  Not real interested in coming up and making tackles in run support and will need to change his attitude on that aspect of the game if he wants play meaningful minutes.  Amos is a smart player and team leader, which the Patriots will like.

Derron Smith, Fresno State (5’10”, 200 Lbs.) 4th round

Smith is a fluid mover with good awareness and instincts.  He had 14 career interceptions and has great hands.  Smith is not overly physical and takes bad angles when coming up in run support. He needs to add some bulk to his frame and injury concerns are an issue.  He does have some punt return abilities which could be valuable to the Patriots. He is a very good coverage safety and has the athleticism and movement skills to play some man coverage.

Cody Prewitt, Ole Miss (6’2″, 208 Lbs.) 5th round

see my write up from earlier this year.  http://www.nepatriotsdraft.com/2014/11/scouting-report-cody-prewitt-s.html

Chris Hackett, TCU (6’0″, 195 Lbs.) 6th/7th round

Hackett might be one of the better values come draft day.  He did not test well at all at the combine which was surprising after watching his tape.  He has good instincts and movement skills which help make up for his below average long speed.  Hackett played some slot corner in college so he does have some versatility to his game.  Needs to bulk up to play in the NFL.  Hackett has good hands(12 career interceptions) and does a nice job winning contested balls.

Interesting UDFA’s

Nick Parry, Alabama (6’0″, 205 Lbs.)

Tevin McDonald, Eastern Washington (5’11”, 193 Lbs.)


Draftable Options, SS:

Jaquiski Tartt, Samford (6’1″, 221 Lbs.) 3rd round

Tartt comes from a small school, but has one of the most NFL ready bodies at the position. He has long arms and is put together like a prototypical strong safety.  He is a hard worker and a film junkie, which the Patriots should appreciate. Tartt does not shy away from contact and is a good form tackler who also can make the big hit.  He looks like he may be thinking rather than reacting at times which creates false steps and missed opportunities to make plays.  There could be some transition time needed, but he flashes big time potential and has the work ethic to get there.  Tartt is a very intriguing prospect who may have only scratched the surface of his potential

James Sample, Louisville (6’2″, 209 Lbs.) 4th round

Sample is a big in the box safety that has very good speed.  He does not have a ton of experience and it shows up on tape.  He lacks instincts but showed improvement throughout the season.  Sample looks for contact and is always wanting to make the big hit.  He needs to work on becoming a better tackler rather than a hitter.  If he can improve his coverage skills, Sample could become a special player because of his size and speed.  He had a significant injury in the past (torn labrum) but seems to be fully recovered.

Clayton Geathers, UCF (6’1″, 218 Lbs.) 6th round

Geathers is an aggressive safety with above average speed and size.  He looks for contact and is one of the better tackling safeties in the class coming up and playing the run.  He was a team captain and has multiple family members in the NFL.  Geathers will struggle with quicker receivers as he lacks the quick movement skills to stay with them.  He should be able to use his size and speed to cover the tight end.  Geathers needs to work on his pursuit angles and keeping his eyes up when playing in traffic.

Interesting UDFA’s:

Cassius Sendish, Kansas (5’11”, 196 Lbs.)

Dean Marlowe, James Madison (6’1″, 203 Lbs.)

Jacob Hagen, Liberty (6’2″, 207 Lbs.)


as always, you can follow me on twitter @midwestpatsfan









19 Responses to “Putting together the Big Board: Safeties”

  1. Roxy Bob says:

    Mock Draft #7: 1st rd #32 Kevin Johnson CB Wake Forest 2nd rd #64 Arie Kouandjio G Alabama 3rd rd #96 Grady Jarrett DT Clemson #97 Tre McBride WR Wil. & Mary 4th rd #101 Josh Shaw CB/S So.Cal #128 Kwon Alexander LB LSU 6th rd Mitch Morse OL Missouri 7th rd a. David Cobb RB MInn. b. Deon Simon DT Northwestern St.

  2. Dan Sullivan says:

    Very strong value in second round I think BB targets to fill three areas of need in second round.
    Patriots Mock Draft
    1 Traded for 2 and 4
    2 Eric Kendricks ILB UCLA
    2 Laken Tomlinson G Duke
    2 Jordan Phillips NT Oklahoma
    3 Traded for 2
    3 P.J. Williams CB Florida State
    4 Traded for 2
    4 Ty Sambraillo OT Colorado St.
    4 Mike Davis RB South Carolina
    6 Stefan Diggs WR Maryland
    7 Devaris Daniels WR Notre Dame
    7 Ryan Russell DE Purdue

    • steve earle says:

      Jordan Phillips at the bottom of the 2nd rd? Not going to hold my breath for that one. I think he’s going in the 1st rd, jmo.

  3. Ryan says:

    Here is where I see the safeties of this draft being taken:

    Round 1: Landon Collins
    Round 2: Damarious Randall
    Round 3: Cody Prewitt, Anthony Harris, Jaquiski Tartt, Gerod Holliman
    Round 4: Ibraheim Campbell, Derron Smith, Clayton Geathers, Kurtis Drummond
    Round 5: James Sample, Durell Eskridge, Chris Hackett, Adrian Amos
    Round 6: Anthony Jefferson, Erick Dargan, Jordan Richards
    Round 7: Tevin McDonald, Kyshoen Jarrett, Isaiah Johnson

    There is definitely a dearth of safeties at the top of the draft, as Randall would be a questionable second-rounder most years but makes a lot of sense as an early day 2 pick this year. The safety position is still vital, however, so it seems likely that many safeties will get drafted.

  4. steve earle says:

    I really do not see much point in taking a saf before day 3 even if a decent one slides down we would be wiser to plan on and stick to going after CBs, O-line and d-line.

  5. MM-II says:

    Mike –

    Based on your scouting reports above, I don’t see any of these guys being an immediate (or even potential) upgrade over anyone currently on the Pats roster at either Safety role. They all seem like 7th-round/UDFA types to me, all of whom would need to work hard just to displace Ebner or Wilson from special teams. At that point in the draft, there may be a number of other prospects available with just as much (or little) potential.

    BTW – I’d switch your listed roles of Ebner and Harmon. Harmon probably saw more game reps at deep coverage safety (FS) in 2014 than the other three combined. That would make it seem that he’s the most likely “backup” for McCourty at the moment, though certainly not an adequate one so far. Even so, Harmon appears to be significantly better than James Sanders was, so, y’know, not totally awful.

  6. Ryan says:

    Disappointed to hear that you don’t like to scout the safety position, as it is difficult to do so but I always find it interesting. Two guys who intrigue me this year are Durell Eskridge at FS and Ibraheim Campbell at SS. Eskridge is very tall at 6’3″ but lacks polish, though he has displayed a well-rounded game at times at Syracuse. To me, he makes sense at the end of the fourth or the top of the sixth because of his potential to dominate due to his size. As for Campbell, he seems much more polished and has experience as an in-the-box safety. His biggest weakness appears to be in deep coverage, but he has good instincts and his pro day 40 time wasn’t slow for a safety (4.52). Campbell will probably take a year to adjust to the NFL but I see him starting his second year and becoming a leader in his third season. The only question with him is level of competition, as he looks to be proficient in most areas but played in Northwestern’s weak division. For this reason, I would make him a candidate for one of Patriots picks at 96, 97, and 101.

    • Mike Gerken says:

      Hey Ryan,
      I think it is more of feeling uncomfortable in trusting what I see and the lack of information on these guys. For other positions, you can watch 3 games and get a good feel for what they do well and what they need to work on. With safeties, you can watch 3 games and have 10 plays to go off of. Making a definitive statement on a player on that few of plays is risky.

      • Ryan says:

        Yeah, it’s true that a safety’s play can be hard to judge in many situations and I have only been going off of scouting reports from others who have watched game film. I really like how you’re doing these positional overviews and I think you’re doing a great job so keep up the good work!

        Hopefully CBs and WRs will prove easier to evaluate.

  7. Daniel R. Martin says:

    A fan on a Falcons draft site (theFalcoholic) offered the following opinion on Todd Gurley: “If it wasn’t for the knee he might well be the first non QB taken. His knee was a single ligament tear, not the usual big mess. It’s been what, 15 years since Ricky Williams was in the draft? Todd Gurley’s don’t come around but every 10 years or so. Whoever gets TG will have their franchise RB for the next decade. He does it all. Runs with power, speed, inside, out, catches passes and returns kicks. Do Not Forget he holds on to the ball. If ATL gets a pressure guy he will be the 3rd or 4th rated sackster in this draft. Every draft there’s 4, 5, or 6 guys just like the five from this season. Can’t say the same thing in the running back position.”

    I wanted to share that because I think it is an interesting take. And the point about only the 3rd or 4th best pass rusher being available at the 8th overall selection is at least doubly true at the 32nd overall pick. I am not necessarily saying that selecting Gurley at 32, if he were even to be available, is the best move. But I do think it is important to measure the merits of taking the fifth or sixth best o-lineman, defensive tackle or linebacker, or a cornerback lacking elite coverage skills, against the merits of taking a player who is considered by some to be the best running back to emerge in a decade.

    • Markus says:

      I agree. I don’t think he would be the best option in terms of position value and need but it certainly would be a Belichick-esque decision.

    • MM-II says:

      WRT Gurley – “Do Not Forget he holds on to the ball.”

      Awhile back, I delved into RB prospect stats as listed on CBS’ draft site to look at total career touches (rushing, receiving and returns) versus production. And fumbles.

      In 30 games played, Gurley fumbled 3 times for fumble rate of 1/195 touches. In contrast, Ameer Abdullah’s fumble rate was 1/41 touches. Melvin Gordon’s rate was 1/52 touches.

      For perspective, in 2000 Kevin Faulk’s fumble rate was 1/43 touches and in 2001 his receiving targets were reduced by 50% and his rushing touches by 75% (though his return opportunities remained about the same). By 2003, Faulk had reduced his fumble rate to 1/118 touches and his rushing/receiving usage gradually returned to 2000 levels.

      Ridely had fumbling issues as a rookie in 2011 (probably beyond his 1/43 rate in games), but had improved to an apparently acceptable rate of 1/74 touches in 2012. However, in 2013 he regressed to a 1/38 rate and got benched. For the remainder of 2013, after returning from the bench, and through 2014 before his injury, Ridley had 117 touches with 0 fumbles (though his YPA dropped from 4.3 to 3.6).

      Fumble rate seems likely to me to be a fairly important component of the Pats’ ratings for RB prospects in this class. Other notable RB prospects for whom I’ve calculated fumble rates:

      Yeldon and Ajayi – 1/62 touches
      Mike Davis – 1/75
      Coleman – 1/77
      Javorius Allen – 1/80
      Duke Johnson – 1/91
      Langford – 1/123 (so far, only Gurley had a better rate)

      Also, it’s been widely noted that Abdullah had great production as a receiver out of the backfield – 67/629, 7 TDs in 52 games. However, for comparison:

      Gurley – 65/615, 6 TDs – 30 games
      Javorius Allen – 63/710, 2 TDs – 30 games
      Duke Johnson – 69/719, 4 TDs – 33 games

      BTW – Kind of a shame (for the Pats) that DJ Foster (5’11″/208) decided to return to Ariz State for his senior year. In 39 games, he had 160 receptions/1832 yards, 11 TDs out of 539 total touches (378 rushing attempts) with a fumble rate of 1/135.

    • Mike Gerken says:

      I have Gurley as a top 5 player overall in this draft and I would sprint to turn in the card if Gurley is still on the board. He is a generational type talent and getting someone like that on this team would be scary now and would be a great cornerstone piece when Tom Brady retires.

      • MM-II says:

        I agree 100%, Mike. If other teams are so stupid as to allow Gurley to fall to #32 (or maybe even only as far as #26), I think you have to grab him. Since the odds of that happening are 1 in 1.617538 gazillion (approximately), I wouldn’t expect the Pats to take an RB before round three, if they draft one at all.

        • Daniel R. Martin says:

          I hadn’t even noticed that Gurley had moved up draft boards to the middle of the first round. I thought he was projected by most draft experts to fall into the second round, due to the devaluation of the position and the injury to his knee. I still think some team takes Melvin Gordon first due to Gurley’s knee. If he is there at 32 I think I would definitely like him to be wearing a Patriots’ jersey next year.

  8. Russell says:

    1st- OL Cameron Erving
    2nd- DT Michael Bennett
    3d- OLB Davis Tull
    3d- S/CB Adrian Amos
    4th- DE Henry Anderson
    4th- WR Kenny Bell
    6th- CB Julian Wilson
    7th- OL Brey Cook
    7th- QB/WR Devin Gardner

  9. Dan Sullivan says:

    Patriots Mock Draft.
    1 Mario Edwards Jr. DE FSU
    2 Hau’oli Kikaha OLB Washington
    3 Josh Shaw CB USC
    3 Bryce Hager ILB Baylor
    4 Jeremy Langford RB Michigan St.
    4 Jeremiah Poutasi G Utah
    6 Conner Neighbors FB LSU
    7 Tyler Moore G Florida
    7 Brandon Bridge QB South Alabama

  10. Jose Marques says:

    another vision of what could be the draft:

    1.Eddie Goldman DT FSU
    2.Tre Jackson G FSU
    3.Paul Dawson ILB TCU
    3.P.J.Williams CB FSU
    4.Henry Anderson DE/DT Stanford
    4.Mike Davis RB South Carolina
    6.Corey Robinson OT South Carolina
    7.Antwan Goodley WR Baylor
    7.Jesse James TE Penn State

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