2019 NFL Draft prospect rankings: Safeties
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Here, theScore's Mike Alessandrini and Dan Wilkins break down the top prospects in the upcoming 2019 NFL Draft with position-by-position rankings and an overall top 50 big board.

Top 50
QB | RB | WR | TE | OT | iOL
EDGE | DL | LB | CB | S

Safeties

1. Nasir Adderley

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School: Delaware
Height: 6-0
Weight: 206 lbs

Strengths

  • Good athlete with movement ability that will translate
  • Phenomenal sideline-to-sideline range
  • Makes some truly incredible plays, ball skills to high-point
  • Flies downhill and drops the hammer to show physicality
  • Delivers big hits to any blockers he meets in box
  • High-level production - nine interceptions in last two years
  • Led all safeties with a 1.3 passer rating against in 2018 (PFF)

Weaknesses

  • Played against lower levels of competition
  • Doesn't have body to match physical play style
  • Will need more discipline in coverage

Bottom line

Adderley is the rare Division II prospect who's earning Day 1 buzz, and it's not hard to see why. With the athleticism and instincts to cover sideline to sideline, and some ridiculous ball skills to convert opportunities into turnovers, the Delaware standout profiles as an impact single-high safety. He can deliver big hits in the running game and in coverage to separate receivers from the ball. The jump in competition will be significant, but Adderley is a potential game-changer on the back end.

2. Chauncey Gardner-Johnson

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School: Florida
Height: 5-11
Weight: 210 lbs

Strengths

  • Strong athletic profile with impressive traits across the board
  • Fantastic speed and range as deep coverage safety
  • Ball skills to make plays on passes up for grabs
  • Will dish out some violent hits coming downhill
  • Has ability to rotate down and match up with receivers out of slot
  • Short-area quickness to mirror opponent at top of routes

Weaknesses

  • Won't fight through traffic to find ball carrier
  • Needs to wrap up more consistently in open field

Bottom line

Gardner-Johnson would be a fantastic prospect in any era, but particularly so for today's game. Having played, and thrived, as both a single-high safety and a nickel corner, he brings the versatility to move around and contribute in a number of ways. The Florida standout will be a major chess piece for any defense in pass coverage.

3. Juan Thornhill

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School: Virginia
Height: 6-0
Weight: 205 lbs

Strengths

  • Elite athlete with high-end speed and explosiveness
  • Fluid hips in coverage drops and transitions
  • Great ball skills and tracking ability downfield
  • Instincts most evident in zone with understanding of route concepts
  • Experience as cornerback helped develop man-coverage skills
  • Takes good angles in pursuit of ball carrier
  • Impressive production in senior season - six interceptions, 98 tackles

Weaknesses

  • Too many low tackles leave him vulnerable to misses
  • Will get stuck on blocks when working in box
  • Still new to safety position

Bottom line

Thornhill's greatest contributions will come as a deep safety, where his range, instincts, and ball skills should help him become an impact cover man over the top. As a former cornerback who has skills in man coverage, though, he can also rotate down and cover the slot against receivers or tight ends. That versatility is crucial in the modern game. He needs to finish more consistently as a run defender but there's upside for plus-value in that area of his game, too.

4. Darnell Savage

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School: Maryland
Height: 5-11
Weight: 198 lbs

Strengths

  • Great athlete who can play all over
  • Phenomenal instincts in coverage and against run
  • Playmaker with range and ball skills in passing game
  • Fast in pursuit and takes good angles to ball
  • Picks up speed coming downhill and delivers some big hits
  • Can roll down and match up against receivers in slot

Weaknesses

  • Undersized for safety position
  • Play strength is lacking
  • Will struggle against big targets in man-to-man situations
  • Tackle efficiency suffers without full-speed approach
  • Not able to get off blocks in run game

Bottom line

One of several phenomenal athletes in this safety class, Savage is an incredibly interesting, high-ceiling prospect. His ability to make an impact in coverage - either as an instinctual zone defender or split out in man coverage - gives him the opportunity to move around into various roles. Size is a factor here, but he can be a productive run defender flying downhill with some speed behind him.

5. Deionte Thompson

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School: Alabama
Height: 6-1
Weight: 195 lbs

Strengths

  • Rangy single-high safety
  • Burst and speed to go sideline to sideline or fly downhill
  • Processes play well and makes great breaks on throws
  • Feel for how routes are developing in front of him
  • Ball skills to turn reads into turnovers
  • Physicality to step up and make plays in running game

Weaknesses

  • Thin frame a concern for physical play style
  • Questions about athleticism went unanswered without predraft testing
  • Takes some poor angles to ball and doesn't finish consistently
  • Won't have versatility to rotate down and line up in man coverage

Bottom line

Thompson's most impressive trait is his sideline-to-sideline range from a single-high safety spot. Having a player who processes the passing game so well from the back end is a major advantage in an increasingly pass-heavy league, so the Alabama standout should have an important role on a defense from Day 1. His physical style creates somewhat of a concern given his slight frame, and he'll need to clean up the pursuit angles and overall tackling efficiency if he's to maximize his value.

6. Taylor Rapp

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School: Washington
Height: 6-0
Weight: 208 lbs

Strengths

  • Physical and highly efficient tackler
  • Consistently comes to balance and gets himself in best position to make tackle
  • Great closing speed and angles in pursuit
  • Good ball skills

Weaknesses

  • Lacks speed and range to play as single-high coverage safety
  • Short-area quicks don't translate to stickiness in man coverage
  • Box-exclusive role as short-zone safety minimizes value

Bottom line

One of the best tacklers in this class, Rapp shows phenomenal pursuit and an ability to finish, and he should be an impact run defender from the moment he steps onto an NFL field. Athleticism limits his upside in coverage, though, as he won't offer much in terms of deep coverage or man-to-man responsibilities against tight ends. If he has an every-down role, Rapp's contributions in the passing game will likely have to come as a short-zone defender who brings added value as a blitzer.

7. Johnathan Abram

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School: Mississippi State
Height: 5-11
Weight: 205 lbs

Strengths

  • In-the-box thumper who plays with nasty demeanor
  • Good play recognition against run and gets downhill in a flash
  • Speed in pursuit and physicality to finish
  • Shows some upside as underneath zone defender
  • Brings added value as explosive blitzer from second level
  • Motor never stops

Weaknesses

  • Likely limited to box safety role in NFL
  • Can struggle to shed blocks in run game
  • Doesn't have fluidity for man-to-man or coverage
  • Needs to come to balance more often to avoid missed tackles

Bottom line

A potentially dominant run defender at the next level, Abram is a tone-setter who wins with play recognition, pursuit speed, and an ability to deliver some punishing hits on the ball carrier. While there's still value in such a player, especially one who can be reasonably expected to serve as a team leader, box-specific roles just aren't as necessary in today's game. Abram won't provide much in terms of coverage, so his third-down responsibilities will likely involve short-zone responsibilities and the occasional blitz opportunity from the second level.

Other notable prospects

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Amani Hooker (Iowa)
Marquise Blair (Utah)
Mike Edwards (Kentucky)

Top 50
QB | RB | WR | TE | OT | iOL
EDGE | DL | LB | CB | S

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2019 NFL Draft prospect rankings: Safeties
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