By Michael Stewart
Introduction: The New York Giants need to add depth at many positions to their roster and the safety position could be one of them. If GM Dave Gettleman is thinking about adding a little more depth and talent, the draft has plenty of prospects for him to choose from, if Gettleman doesn’t address it through free agency. Courtesy of Walterfootball.com here are possible safeties/strong safeties prospects that could be available.
Minkah Fitzpatrick-6’1/203 (Alabama): Fitzpatrick had 60 tackles, one interception, eight passes broken up and a forced fumble in 2017. He played well, covering receivers downfield, staying around the ball, and helping out his cornerbacks. With his versatility, Fitzpatrick can play nickel corner over slot receivers, cover tight ends in man, and be the deep free safety center fielder who protects the deep part of the field. He also can function as a strong safety and be the eighth man in the box.
Derwin James-6’3/211 (Florida State): James fits as a strong safety who is a tough eighth defender in the box. Some team sources feel that James is not a good fit as a deep center fielder. They think he has some coverage limitations as a free safety, but should be able to play man against tight ends. They don’t think he is a fit to play nickel corner and cover slot receivers. One area scout thought James could end up adding weight and grow into being a Will linebacker, similar to Mark Barron.
Justin Reed-6’1/204 (Stanford): Reid played really well for a lot of 2017, impressing NFL scouts. Sources who are tough graders said they think Reid has early-round potential for the 2018 NFL Draft. They say that Reid doesn’t have Earl Thomas-like range as a free safety or Kam Chancellor-like size as a strong safety, but he does everything well. Reid is a good free or strong safety with the ability to run and tackle. They say that he is a polished, clean, good all-around safety similar to HaHa Clinton-Dix coming out of Alabama. Evaluators said that Reid didn’t close out the season as well and had some rough tapes late in the year. That could end up pushing him to Day 2 in the 2018 NFL Draft.
Ronnie Harrison-6’3/216 (Alabama): Harrison had 74 tackles with 2.5 sacks, three interceptions and four passes batted. He played really well as an enforcer in the middle of the field. Harrison is a tough run defender who has the athletic skills to cover, but he has issues covering receivers in man coverage. Playing zone in the middle of the field is a better fit for Harrison. Because of some coverage limitations, Harrison is a strong safety type for the NFL. Some teams see Harrison as a second-rounder, but they think he still could go in the first round of the draft.
Terrell Edmunds-6’2/220 (Virginia Tech): Edmunds hasn’t gotten as much attention as his brother Tremaine Edmunds, but NFL sources have told WalterFootball.com that Terrell Edmunds really impressed them as well. Edmunds has good size to be an NFL safety and displayed coverage skills the past few seasons. Edmunds played well in 2017 with 59 tackles, two interceptions and four passes broken up. As a sophomore, he totaled 89 tackles, four interceptions and three passes broken up. Sources say they see Terrell Edmunds grading out as a second-day prospect for the 2018 NFL Draft.
DeShon Elliot-6’2/210 (Texas): Elliott has NFL size with good instincts. He fits as a free safety for the pro game, and sources have told me that they’ve given him a second-day grade. They say that Elliott lacks elite athletic ability and the speed to be a first-round pick, but he makes plays in coverage and is a willing participant against the run. It would have been hard for Elliott to duplicate his production if he had returned for his senior year, so it was in his interest to declare for the 2018 NFL Draft – like he did. However, there are concerns in the scouting community about Elliott’s speed, and they think that he could run slow times in pre-draft workouts. If he does run slowly, he could slide into the mid-rounds.
Jessie Bates-6’2/195 (Wake Forest): Bates had a respectable redshirt sophomore season with 79 tackles, five passes broken up and an interception. His freshman year was more impressive with five interceptions, 100 tackles, and four passes broken up. For the NFL, Bates could use more strength and weight on his frame to help him tackle. The early-entrant could rise with a strong performance in the pre-draft workouts.
Kyzir White-6’2/218 (West Virginia): White has good size to him to be a strong safety in the NFL, plus had a solid senior season. He totaled 94 tackles with four passes broken up, two forced fumbles, one sack and three interceptions in 2017. As a junior, he had 58 stops with five breakups, three sacks, and zero picks. White’s strong play earned him an invitation to the Senior Bowl, and he had a solid week of practice in Mobile.
Siran Neal-6’1/205 (Jacksonville State): Neal is a small-school prospect who scouts said impressed them this fall. The senior is a a quality run defender and some coverage skills. Playing cornerback, he totaled 39 tackles with 11 passes broken up, a forced fumble and an interception in 2017.Jacksonville State had Neal playing corner, but scouts say that for the NFL, he projects to safety as he is kind of tight. However, he is a physical and aggressive defender who would fit safety well. They think Neal could be at least a good backup and special team’s contributor. Neal helped his draft stock by having a decent week at the Senior Bowl.
Tray Matthews-6’1/209 (Auburn): Matthews totaled 59 tackles with two passes broken up and one interception in 2017. As a junior, he had 76 tackles with three breakups and an interception. Matthews was a solid defender for Auburn and has a skill set to work with for the NFL. His strong play earned him an invitation to the Senior Bowl, and he had some good moments in practice in Mobile. Matthews was very physical, showing the speed and strength to be a forceful hitter.
Quin Blanding-6’1/215 (Virginia): Blanding recorded 137 tackles with four interceptions and six passes broken up in 2017. He is a good run defender, but he has some limitations in pass coverage for the NFL. For the NFL, Blanding is more of a strong safety type. He has issues with taking some poor angles and pass-coverage limitations.
Tre Flowers-6’3/200 (Oklahoma State): Flowers had a good career for the Cowboys, including a senior year in which he notched 79 tackles with eight passes broken up and two interceptions. He recorded seven breakups as a junior and seven breakups as a sophomore. Flowers’ 2015 season saw him rack up 83 tackles and two picks as well.
Final Thoughts: Again, not sure if GM Dave Gettleman plans on adding a safety/strong safety through the draft, but if does he will have plenty of talented options in every round. The jury could still out on Darian Thompson and Andrew Adams and if GM Dave Gettleman feels that adding another safety to challenge for a starting position would benefit the Giants, then expect a safety to be added on draft day.