Outside of having one top 5 level talent, the safety position is a little bit below average compared to where we’ve seen it in recent years. The 5 that are on this list are all very talented and should all be drafted within the first 3 rounds and end up having successful careers in the NFL. We’ll rank these 5 and their likelihood of their talent translating to the next level.
#1: Kyle Hamilton – Notre Dame
Seeking to be the 1st safety selected in the top 10 of the NFL draft since Jamal Adams was selected #6 overall in the 2017 draft, Kyle Hamilton has been one of the best safety prospects we’ve seen in quite some time. Hamilton completely took over the game for the Notre Dame defense and was a significant part of their return to relevance in College Football. Hamilton is a well-rounded prospect who plays well in both man and zone coverage schemes making him a very appealing choice early on. Of not just safeties, but all defensive backs, Hamilton has some of the best awareness, perception, and football IQ traits. His patience with carefully watching the quarterback’s eyes and following along with receivers routes make him a ball hawk to look out for. This perception led him to hauling in 3 interceptions in his 2021 campaign and earning All-American honors. Hamilton should be a top 5 pick in this draft, but if he falls outside of that, a team is going to have themselves a very fortunate selection.
#2: Daxton Hill – Michigan
After Hamilton, there is a significant gap to this 2nd place spot which goes to Daxton Hill of Michigan. Hill is a versatile player who can be suitable in any position in the backfield. This gives Hill a desirable edge over some of the talented safeties in this class. Hill is better than what his stats suggest, especially since some of the key skills he has are things that are more difficult to measure. The stats though are a huge piece of what scouts look for and his 3 interceptions aren’t blowing anyone away. Hill does make up for the interceptions in tackles for being a top-notch tackler for a defensive back which increases his value to being a potential late 1st round / early 2nd round pick.
#3: Jaquan Brisker – Penn State
After starting his collegiate career at a junior college, Brisker was able to transfer to Penn State and make a name for himself in a very short amount of time. Brisker is proving to the doubters just because you start at a junior college, doesn’t mean you can’t make it to the big leagues. Brisker is a top 5 safety prospect and a top 60 talent overall in the draft even from the short play that we were able to see from him at the Division 1 level. During that time, Brisker has shown that he is a natural at what he does, he is excellent in zone coverage. His awareness skills show that he can rise to the occasion when needed, but we’d wish we saw more of that. He only managed 2 interceptions this past season, but we know there is room for him to grow in the NFL. If he can be a rotational safety in his first year, we expect him to be a solid starter by his 2nd or 3rd season. There’s only up from here for Brisker, but it’s how long is that process going to take.
#4: Lewis Cine – Georgia
Another part of Georgia’s National Championship winning defense is safety Lewis Cine. The scrappy safety plays very aggressively for a position that is so often filled with more conservative defenders. Cine gives it his all and has a true passion for playing football which makes him just the type of player you want in the locker room and leading a team. Cine isn’t afraid to get dirty making him one of the top tacklers of all defensive backs and safeties in this class. He has potential to put up some big numbers and his size allows him to get to the ball with ease. If Cine can work on his fundamental skills in coverage, he will be a force to be reckoned with. With improvement needed in some key parts of his game, Cine should be a solid backup and a late 2nd round / early 3rd round pick in this draft.
#5: Jalen Pitre – Baylor
Playing in the Big 12, Pitre is accustomed to facing some high-powered offenses during his time at Baylor. During his time at Baylor, he played in multiple different positions including outside linebacker, cornerback, slot cornerback, and safety. Pitre is very versatile and could adapt well into many different defensive schemes. The biggest thing holding Pitre back from being ranked higher is his size, he’s pretty undersized for the position and doesn’t quite have the athleticism that other players we’ve seen have. Pitre would make for a good steal in the 3rd or 4th round if he slides down that far.