2013 NFL Draft: Ranking the Safeties

The 2013 Combine kicked off today and the action starts tomorrow as the players begin their testing in font of scouts, GMs and coaches.

As the Combine gets ready to go, TFDS gives our final Pre-Combine rankings, looking at the Safeties.  The Raiders are likely set at Free Safety with former top 10 pick Michael Huff returning next season but if one of the these guys fell, Raiders GM Reggie McKenzie may just snap up a talented safety to groom for the future.

1. Kenny Vaccaro 6’1 215 lbs Texas
Kenny VaccaroA very good man coverage safety that can line up as a slot corner if needed, Vaccaro shows good deep zone cover, too.  He shows proficiency reading the QB and flying to the ball.

Very versatile, he can come off the edge as a blitzer, also.  Vaccaro is a decent tackler who has the vision and instincts to be there but he can be over aggressive on his pursuit and take bad angles.

A relentless competitor and on-field leader, Vaccaro has the potential to be a top safety in the league.
Pro Comparison: Michael Huff

 

2. DJ Swearinger 5’11 210 lbs South Carolina
D.J. SwearingerSwearinger is a hitter and when he puts a lick on an opposing players it’s a sight to see.

He’s a great downhill player, filling gaps and taking down ball carriers when asked to play in the box. He’s also able to come down from deep zone and snuff out plays which he does, tracking the ball well.

Swearinger is not the greatest athlete but he more than makes up for it with instincts and effort.  In college he lined up to play press slot, covered TEs and even played at CB a bit so whatever team drafts him will get a very versatile DB.
Pro Comparison: Major Wright
 


3.Jonathan Cyprien 6’0 210 lbs Florida International
Cyprien is an aggressive safety that leads by example, hitting players and making plays on the ball in coverage or up in the box. He’s a football players’ football player because he plays physical and doesn’t back down at all, something that earns him a lot of credibility in the lockerroom.

Cyprien has great range and instincts in zone, covering ground to make a play on the ball even on sideline throws. He’s earned a reputation as a “hard hitter” with incredibly hard hits.

He plays fast but at times he misjudges timing terribly to allow big plays. I have my doubts that he will be able to take on the NFL tight ends and he lacks the speed to hang with WRs in the slot so he’s not an all-purpose safety like the guys higher on the list but more of a Bob Sanders/Louis Delmas enforcer safety.
Pro Comparison: Louis Delmas

4.Matt Elam 5’10 200 lbs Florida
He has great range across the field as a deep field roamer and shows good instincts to read the QB/RB early and determine if the play will be deep or if he needs to come up against the run.

Elam consistently created turnovers in college, whether they be interceptions, forced fumbles or fumble recoveries.

He tracks the ball well in the passing game, coming down on shallow routes or helping deep.

He can be over aggressive at times and bites on play action passes or run draws etc, which usually means the plays goes for big yardage.

In all, he’s a versatile player that can line up all over the field but he goes for the big hit instead of making a proper tackle and will need to fix that heading into the NFL.
Pro Comparison:Bob Sanders
 


5.Phillip Thomas 6’1 215 lbs Fresno State
Phillip ThomasThomas is a “playmaker” who is always around the ball at all levels of the field.  In fact, he finished 2012 with 3 sacks, 2 fumble recoveries and 8 interceptions.

He’s very versatile and Fresno State used him in a multitude of ways: lining him up in the slot, out wide at free safety and also at strong safety.

He needs to improve his tackling and he can take bad angles.  He also, at times, comes in too high which can result in a shed tackle if the offensive player has good upper body strength.  If he can improve these issues, Thomas has the physical ability to be a solid NFL safety.
Pro Comparison: Reggie Nelson

About Asher Mathews

Head writer for TFDS Sports, covering the Oakland Raiders and NFL at large. Proud Purdue alum. Follow me on Twitter!

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