If you’re one of the teams out there missing out on the LaRon Landry, Jairus Byrd, Dashon Goldson and Glover Quin sweepstakes, or just feel like Ed Reed, Louis Delmas and Kenny Phillips can’t stay healthy enough for you, have no fear, the NFL Draft is here. Here are the top prospects in the 2013 NFL Draft safeties list:
5) Jonathan Cyprien, Florida International
Here’s a guy who helped himself with a strong Senior Bowl game, but I haven’t seen enough of this guy consistently to say he’s a top-4 safety coming off the board, especially with guys coming out from the SEC and Big 10. The league doesn’t care where you’re coming from because if you can play you can play, but then again, you don’t see too many safeties able to make the leap from college to the NFL because it might be one of the toughest positions to play in the league on it’s mental requirements alone.
4) Bacarri Rambo, Georgia
You’re going to start seeing a very familiar trend from here on out: A major conferences leads to big time players. For a player who was suspended for the first 4 games of the season, Rambo still had a productive season with over 75 tackles and 4 interceptions. He played in the SEC where he had good games against the likes of Florida, Georgia Tech and even Alabama. Georgia was allowing 177.8 yards per game with 11 interceptions and were able to generate a strong pass rush with 25 sacks, you can’t generate that pressure unless you have things figured out in the secondary; Rambo certainly made sure they did. Plus, the guys name is Rambo, does it get any cooler than that?
3) Eric Reid, LSU
Reid’s last name and first name initials are strikingly similar to Baltimore great, Ed Reed. Reid still has to refine some of his skills, but his failures his senior year were mainly the result of having lost Tyrann Mathieu, Morris Claiborne, and Brandon Taylor. It’s hard to play out on an island and utilize your speed when you can’t trust the people in front of you to stay with their men. He’s arguably the fastest safety at 4.53 and looks like he’ll be a second round talent after displaying that speed and athleticism fairly well at the combine.
2) Matt Elam, Florida
What does the NFL love more than a guy who can cover ground and is athletic enough to play in space? That would be a player who can do the latter, while being able to come up and make tackles. With a breakout game against LSU and clutch plays all year long, Elam has seen his stock rise to where he is now as the 2nd best safety on the board. The one question you could make about Elam is his size, but trust me, this is a guy who you don’t want to miss out on. He’ll probably be a late first round or early 2nd round right now, but with teams like the Houston Texans potentially losing their safeties, look for Elam to be targeted sooner rather than later.
1) Kenny Vaccaro, Texas
Texas does an exceptional job of recruiting and grooming NFL ready safeties. (See: Earl Thomas.) Vaccaro doesn’t have the ball hawking skills of an Earl the Pearl, but he can certainly play the run. After a successful year, there’s no reason to look at him as anything besides the best safety in this class. He has a nice figure for a safety, at 6’1” and 215 pounds, and runs an acceptable 4.6 for a safety of that size. Some scouts are still disappointed they didn’t get to see him play in the Senior Bowl, while others have turned to the tape, in particular the West Virginia game. He dominated with 11 tackles and never seemed vertically challenged, despite West Virginia’s blazing speed.