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NFL Draft Preview 2016: Evaluating the top strong safeties

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From what I have gathered, many of you are very interested in my analysis. So much so, that Sander asked if I could do some on the safety position. Well, here it goes. I applied the same equations used to remove illogical players from the cornerback article with the strong safeties. Why strong safeties? Well, I do not believe that Bradley McDougald is the final answer. Now, I don’t believe the Buccaneers need another John Lynch but they do need someone that is a sure tackler and can make plays. Without further ado, the strong safety evaluation.

NFL Combine and NCAA Pro-Day

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Now, each one of these articles has a different number of players being shown. That is due to each position having a "natural" tier that you can cut off at. In this case, only 8 players were in the top tier. Off the bat, Fellonte Misher and Hakim Jones had terrible Pro-Days. Misher didn’t show any promise but had the size you’d want in a Strong Safety. Hakim Jones has speed, explosion, and size but no agility. Both players, I wouldn’t touch until after the draft. Kevin Byarda player the Tampa Bay Buccaneers have tried out, had the best Tests score based on his Pro-Day. I have major questions about his Broad Jump and Height but he fits the bill as a good Strong Safety. Miles Killebrew and Keanu Neal look like good carbon copies of each other except for a few inches. Jayon Kearse has some vertical concerns and short shuttle issues but neither test correlates to success in the NFL of Strong Safeties.

NCAA Scores

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Now, this is where things get interesting. Jeremy Cash takes the gold for his NCAA stats by being a hard hitting safety at Duke. He continuously crashed the line and made plays. Byard and Misher both played well with Misher being a more of a box safety and Byard playing the pass better. Kearse was helped by a defensive line and when needed, he made plays, particularly against the run. Neal was more of an enigma with the Florida Gators.

Overall

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So while Misher and Jones are highly regarded in these rankings, neither likely have the athletic ability to play in the NFL. On the other hand, Miles Killebrew has been racing up boards due to his play at Southern Utah. His production and athleticism is what teams look for in a Strong Safety. That also goes for Kevin Byard. Keanu Neal may become a good safety in the NFL but his production is a huge red flag for me. It is possible QBs didn’t throw near him but it’s unknowable since I don’t watch tape. Jeremy Cash is coming off injury but his production at Duke speaks for itself. But he may have some issues with playing speed due to his injury. Also, Jayron Kearse seems like a product of the Clemson system rather than a good strong safety.

Notable Players

Karl Joseph-(#51)- Karl Joseph took a massive hit due to not being able to run drills. It also didn’t help that he has some height concerns. So much so that Vernon Hargreaves and him would have to see who’s taller. But his quality of play and other measurable are off the chart. He may become a good safety in the future.

Vonn Bell-(#86)- Bell ran into the same issues Joseph did due to his injury. And like Joseph, he also has some height concerns and weight concerns. Bell also took a hit due to him getting injured while jumping his Vertical Jump. But even with that, he has some decent play at Ohio State behind a quality defense.

KJ Dillon-(#18)- Dillon played well at West Virginia and ranked #6 in Adjusted Batted Passes. He has the size to play Strong Safety but he has some explosion and agility issues. So much so that he may be delegated as a special teams star.

Derrick Kindred-(#38)- At TCU, Kindred was a part of the Horn Frogs defense that is played like no other. I’ve read articles about how unique it is. While he gets brownie points in my mind, it doesn’t apply to this. He’s got the speed and quality of work in the NCAA but like the others, his size may be an issue.

Clayton Fejedelem-(#37)- I bet you don’t know how to say Fejedelem. Anyways, he performed well at Illinois and made a name there attacking the line and making decent plays. He has the size and speed to play as Strong Safety but had a low 3Cone drill. That usually means he has tight hips and struggles in pass coverage. He may be a decent back-up.