I've decided to start putting out a few positional power rankings ahead of the draft in under three weeks time. I'm starting with the safety position, which is one of my favourite groups to look at, and 2017 is a good one.
You all know how much I love Jamal Adams, but you may not know how highly I rank Tedric Thompson from Colorado, or that I really don't rank Justin Evans from Texas A&M. Take a look at the rankings and let me know what you think.
Jamal Adams, LSU (1)
Did you guys know that I'm a big Adams guy? Great leadership, great instincts, exceptional open field tackler, deceptive play speed with the heart of a lion. This is the kind of player I want leading my defense. He was adored at LSU and I'm pretty sure he'll be adored in the NFL.
Malik Hooker, Ohio State (2)
Hooker is only just behind Adams, mainly because he has some of the best hands in the draft, and I'm not just limiting that to safeties. He's a play-maker plain and simple. He has fluid movement and he reads the QB eyes before breaking to the ball with efficiency. The downside? He misses a lot of tackles and he doesn't look overly keen to come up and play the run.
Josh Jones, NC State (3)
Jones has tremendous upside. He's one of those explosive athletes who jumps off the tape at you. His read and react ability is good, his size, strength and speed is good, he's fluid in his movements going side to side or diagonal. He's got good hands (8 INT in 3 years) and he can come in and lay the wood against the run when he wants to (8.5 sacks in 3 years). The downside? He can be too aggressive, going for the highlight reel tackle rather than wrapping up.
Budda Baker, Washington (4)
Baker has a lot of talent, he's got good recognition, he breaks on the ball well and his short area quickness is exceptional. He has good speed and he reads and recognises offensive plays quickly. The problem with Baker is the size, he's a 5'10 sub 200lb safety who can get engulfed by bigger tight ends. Saying that, he still has the talent and the heart to make it in the NFL.
Obi Melinfonwu, Connecticut (5)
Is Melinfonwu the best pure athlete in this draft? A case could be made. Is he the best football player? No, no he isn't. Obi is a safety who's blessed with a rare combination of elite size with elite speed. He tackles well with plus range and he has the desire to improve. Saying all of that, his instincts are average to me, he doesn't break on the ball as quickly as the guys above and he needs to see a play develop before reacting. He could become something very special, and his size alone will help combat these bigger, faster tight ends that teams are using. Good talent who needs development.
Tedric Thompson, Colorado (6)
Here's a player that doesn't get the love he deserves. I don't know how any ranking system leaves Thompson outside the 10 best safeties in the draft, and yet nearly every single one does. 7 INT and 16 PD's last year in Colorado. Excellent speed and athleticism with plus instincts. This is a safety that should be getting a lot of hype, if he adds a little muscle to that frame, he could be something really special.
Marcus Maye, Florida (7)
Maye is an interesting one, as his production doesn't match the individual traits that you see on tape. On tape you see a guy who has good instincts with good range and speed. A guy who has length and physicality, a player who wraps up in the tackle and rarely allows extra yards. Then you see he had 1 INT and 5 PD's in 2016 and 50 tackles. He's not a stat stuffer, but he looks the part and I really like his instincts. Needs to get better at tracking the ball when running deep with receivers.
John Johnson, Boston College (8)
Johnson is underrated IMO. He has experience as both a safety and corner and that shows on tape. He has good mirror skills and he's fluid transitioning to run with receivers. He's got good active hands and smooth hips. He's a reliable tackler who plays with good balance and base. If he commits more to the tackle and learns to use his body to limit the receivers space, he's got a very bright future.
Marcus Williams, Utah (9)
Williams is a very good high deep safety who plays with good instincts. He reads the QB's eyes well and shows good range to cover sideline to sideline. He's shown an ability to make plays on the ball, and he always goes up to compete with contested throws. You want to see Williams add a little muscle to his frame as he is a slender 200lb's - However if you're looking for a true FS, then you could do a lot worse than adding a player like Williams.
Rayshawn Jenkins, Miami (10)
Mac is going to be hitting you with a Jenkins report before the draft. However most have him around the 18th-20th best safety, but that's ludicrous. He's got good size, he plays with a chip on his shoulder and he has the length to make plays on the ball. He loves physical football and enjoys putting receivers, runners and tight ends on their back. He'll need to work on his coverage, but he has all the skills you need...especially as a box safety.