Top 10 Safety Draft Prospects – 2020
1. Xavier McKinney – Alabama
I’ll admit that McKinney’s ceiling is not as high as some of the safety prospects below him in the rankings, but he is the best at the position going into the NFL Draft and has a pretty solid floor. McKinney is an intelligent football player that has the versatility and mental makeup to play free safety, strong safety, in the box, and nickel corner. He is not a striker that will make big hits but he is always around the football and can make tackles in the open field. McKinney closes quickly to the football and his versatility will be coveted by teams that prefer to have interchangeable safeties on the football field.
2. Grant Delpit – LSU
If you want to talk about ceiling, Delpit takes the cake. “DBU” I mean LSU has another defensive back that should come off the board in the first round, top of the second at the latest. Let’s start with the things that he has to improve upon. The biggest knock on Delpit is his tackling. He needs to play with better fundamentals and technique as he looks allergic to wrapping up ball carries which results in tons of missed tackles. Delpit is also a little slow to diagnose what’s going on in front of him. So why the high ceiling? Delpit is an athletic phenom that can get to anywhere on the football field in a blink of the eye once he sees it and commits. Add his versatility as an interchangeable safety and physical tools and you get a guy that can be a perennial pro bowl player once the light bulb goes off.
3. Jeremy Chinn – Southern Illinois
Here is one of my favorite players in the entire 2020 NFL Draft Class. I didn’t know much about Chinn before putting on the tape, but he’s similar to Delpit in terms of when the light bulb goes off and the game slows down a bit for him, he can become a beast. The processing and awareness of Chinn needs some improvement, however his athleticism, closing speed, and the way he throws his body around will be enticing for teams that covet an enforcer. NFL teams that like to play a 3rd safety in the box or have another player at the second level that will bring hats to the party will target Chinn to make a difference for their run defense. If you need a spy in the middle of the field to match up against quarterbacks that like to break containment, then Chinn is your guy for that too.
4. Kyle Dugger – Lenoir-Rhyne
Another small school prospect makes the Top 5 with Kyle Dugger. A favorite of CPGM, Dugger is yet another safety that may not be a finished product at the moment, but his ceiling and potential will land him as a Day 2 selection. If you attended or paid attention to Senior Bowl week, there was a strong buzz about Dugger from NFL evaluators and coaches. Dugger comes downhill in a hurry and can be an enforcer similarly to Jeremy Chinn. He is also a very instinctive football player that showcases plus athleticism. Dugger always seems to be in the right place on the field and dominated lesser competition at Lenoir-Rhyne.
5. Antoine Winfield Jr – Minnesota
Rounding out my Top 5 is a safety that’s much different from Delpit, Chinn, and Dugger. Winfield doesn’t have the athletic or physical prowess of those prospects, but his understanding of the game coupled with his cover skills and technique makes him a guy that can stick around for a long time in the league. Winfield is an instinctive ball hawk that reads quarterbacks’ eyes and makes plays on the football. His 4.4 40-yard dash and tape suggest that he will be selected on Day 2 also.
6. Ashtyn Davis – California
A former walk-on at California, Davis has made a name for himself as he’s improved every single year. For teams looking for a cover safety that can play single high and close quickly from range, Davis will be an intriguing option. Watching the tape you can tell Davis pays close attention to his craft and can diagnose pre-snap in order to be in the correct position. He does have some warts in his game though as he’s a straight line defender that’s a little stiff when changing directions. Another strength of Davis is also a weakness as he comes downhill quickly and aggressively causing him to miss some tackles in the open field.
7. J.R. Reed – Georgia
If you want to watch a player that makes wow plays time after time, then check out tape of J.R Reed. He’s a guy that likes to mix it up in the box and can also play deep safety due to his instincts and awareness on the football field. The attribute that stands out most with Reed is his ability to come up from his safety position and make tackles in the open field. Not only does he close quick, fast, and in a hurry but he usually comes under control and takes the correct angles to bring down ball carriers effectively. Reed is not a sticky man-to-man defender but he works well in zone and can be a starting caliber safety at the next level.
8. Brandon Jones – Texas
Jones is not a flashy player but he competes at 110% on every down. He’s a guy that’s not afraid to do the dirty work on the football field and can be an asset in many different ways. Need a guy to play on the edge and take away TEs? Need a guy to guard the slot? Need a guy to put pressure on the quarterback? Need a guy to disengage from blockers and help in the run game? Jones checks all those boxes and more as he’s a tough versatile chess piece that’s always around the football.
9. K’Von Wallace – Clemson
Another feisty safety is next on the rankings with Clemson’s K’Von Wallace. Some have dubbed him one of the best nickel defenders in the class and I can’t argue it. Wallace played all over the field but looked more comfortable closer to the line of scrimmage and especially in the slot. He’s not afraid to stick his nose in there and make tackles in the hole. Another plus in Wallace’s game is his ability to neutralize tight ends in the the passing game relatively easily as he recognizes his keys well and can anticipate passes and quarterback reads.
10. Geno Stone – Iowa
A very comfortable zone defender, Stone played a lot of 2-high safety at Iowa. He’s instinctive and understands where he should be on the football field. He’s also a blur to the football and anticipates plays before they happen. The athletic testing numbers may depress Stone’s draft position but his instincts and closing ability stands out. He’s a sleeper in this class that has a knack for making plays and causing turnovers.