2021 NFL Draft Safety Rankings

by Zack Lambert (@bigbird8224)
April 13th, 2021

1) Trevon Moehrig, TCU; Ht: 6-2 Wt: 202

It’s a pretty near consensus that Trevon Moehrig is the best safety in the 2020 draft and it’s pretty easy to see why. The player is a very talented ballhawk who has proven to be a strong game influencer in multiple ways. He plays aggressively and isn’t afraid to support the run, but I would like to see him improve his body control when he does that. He’s strong in man coverage but will have to improve his stickiness a bit, especially when receivers put a second move on him.

2) Jevon Holland, Oregon; Ht: 6-1 Wt: 201

Jevon Holland was an excellent option at safety for a good Oregon Ducks team and showed excellent versatility with a high football IQ. He lined up all over the field and was able to display his fantastic athleticism, body control, and adjustments when he did so. His hips are really fluid and he was able to show that when he was in coverage, also displaying that he could guard the slot as well as cover deep portions of the field.

3) Andre Cisco, Syracuse; Ht: 6-0 Wt: 209

Andre Cisco was one of the best playmakers in the country at Syracuse and I think he has the ability to carry on making plays in the NFL. The player reads the game incredibly well and his pass break-up numbers and interceptions support that notion. In addition, his size and athleticism are really desirable. Unfortunately, some of that big-play potential can come back to bite him as he can blow coverages with his anticipation. He can struggle in zone and on run plays which is a bit of a turn-off, but there’s so much upside with this player that he’s worth the development.

4) Jamar Johnson, Indiana; Ht: 6-1 Wt: 197

Indiana had a gem in their secondary in Jamar Johnson, a player who was excellent at taking away passing lanes with his position and route-reading. He played in a Cover 2 system that helped him read the game and make adjustments mid-play, plus that system is still very prevalent in the NFL. He addresses the run well and looked nice while playing nickel as well, adding to his versatility. His profile is encouraging for teams looking to take the player and he ought to slot in well for an NFL team from the jump.

5) Richie Grant, UCF; Ht: 6-0 Wt: 194

Richie Grant was one of the more versatile players who saw time at UCF, appearing in looks as a box safety, slot corner, single high safety, and split zone safety, plus he can slot in at free safety if it’s required. Grant is a lot like Washington’s cornerback Elijah Molden in that he always finds his way to the ball and affects the play with his physical presence. There are a lot of screws that need to be tightened here, for instance he needs better body control when tackling and needs to take better angles, but for the most part the player looks ready to start in the NFL.

6) Hamsah Nasirildeen, FSU; Ht: 6-0 Wt: 194

Florida State’s Hamsah Nasirildeen is a very talented player that showed a great blend of aggressiveness, physical superiority, and intelligence in college. I’m not sure he projects as a true free or strong safety in the NFL, but a good defensive coordinator will get him on the field in an effective role anyways. He has the versatility to play just about any role, including spying and covering tight ends, but there are some other concerns. I would like to see him improve when attacking the line of scrimmage and a bad ACL injury had him sidelined for a lot of his last two years in college, but there’s a starting NFL safety in there if his development goes well.

7) Richard LeCounte III, Georgia; Ht: 5-11 Wt: 190

Georgia’s defense was extremely effective in 2020 and a large part of that success was attributable to Richard LeCounte III. LeCounte was an experienced player who did a lot of the organizing and communicating, meaning he could be a good leader in the NFL as well. He played a lot of man coverage and did well displaying his versatility, but he may have some strength issues considering his slightly smaller frame. I doubt he’s ready to start in the NFL but there’s good upside in the pick.

8) Caden Sterns, Texas; Ht: 6-1 Wt: 207

Sterns started nearly every game he played at Texas and was very effective for the Longhorns, proving to be very loose and athletic at the back of the formation. Sterns has excellent instincts and game-reading skills and his versatility and ability to rove the field made him very tough to scheme against. The player is very good at reading the quarterback to break the play down which indicates he’ll be a good deep cover safety, but his hips are good enough to cover in man as well. I would like to see Sterns attack the line much better than he does, both in run situations and in blitz. His physicality and angles aren’t great and that can leave some gaps in the defense.

9) Talanoa Hufanga, USC; Ht: 6-1 Wt: 215

USC’s unique defensive roster saw them throw out some interesting lineups of players and roles and Talanoa Hufanga wasn’t immune to that in his time at safety. He aligned in a variety of positions that showcased his versatility and intelligence, hardly ever missing a beat. Hufanga may be the most violent of any players that you see come out of the position this season, relishing the chance to lower his pads and hit a ball carrier.I would like to see him keep making strides in his ball skills, but he also took a nice step forward in that department last season as well.

10) Paris Ford, Pitt; Ht: 6-0 Wt: 190

Paris Ford has the perfect mindset and athletic build to be a great safety in the NFL, but there are some limitations that he’ll need to work out to be the best player he’s capable of becoming. He’s good at playing the ball and shows nice range and fluidity to cover a large portion of the field and plays very aggressive football, but there are issues speckled all over his game. He needs to work on his angles and body control when attacking a runner and his size isn’t great for his roles to translate to the NFL. He also needs to improve his route anticipation. That seems like a laundry list of improvements to make and while it really is, there’s no reason to think he can’t improve and become an impact player in the NFL.

11) Joshuah Bledsoe, Mizzouri; Ht: 6-0 Wt: 200

As Joshuah Bledsoe develops into a true starting safety in the NFL, a team should be able to use him in the slot or as a nickel until he’s ready for more responsibility. He’s one of the better players at this position at working through blocks to get to the ball and does great work as a box safety. He hasn’t taken many snaps as the high man in the formation and he’s clearly inexperienced in some formations and packages, but there are roles in which he thrives and he can make an impact from those spots as his game continues to grow.

12) James Wiggins, Cincinnati; Ht: 6-1 Wt: 205

Despite some injury problems in his career at Cincinnati, an ACL and meniscus tear, there doesn’t seem to be a big worry about delicacy around James Wiggins. His ACL tear recovered in just five months and the meniscus issue was a contact, non-football-related issue, so I don’t see too many issues there. Unfortunately, it did severely limit the tape on the player, so we’re spectating from a couple years ago for the most part. Wiggins was excellent in 2018 and was a great player in the biggest moments for Cincinnati. He’s a turnover machine and should be able to translate his hands to the next level considering his athleticism and versatility. He may be taken advantage of by quarterbacks as his route anticipation continues to grow, but there’s an excellent player inside if his growth isn’t inhibited.

13) Damar Hamlin, Pitt; Ht: 6-1 Wt: 195

Very few players entering the draft at any position will have as much experience as Damar Hamlin who started all four of his years at Pitt. While that experience is nice, the fact that he didn’t leave after his third season may indicate some issues that he’s conscious of and is trying to improve. Hamlin has decent versatility and looked good when attacking the run in addition to his pass defense. Hamlin has developed his game very well and has become an expert at deciphering the game as well as covering routes in man and zone. He’s very reliable, but like I said earlier, he isn’t the most skilled player and that might be an issue at the next level. He should be able to play in niche situations at worst, but there’s possibly starting potential if things go very well.

14) Shawn Davis, Florida; Ht: 6-0 Wt: 206

I had extremely high hopes for Shawn Davis coming into the 2020 season and while he didn’t really live up to them, we can be thankful that he didn’t fall as flat as Marco Wilson, his counterpart in the secondary. Davis looked good in both single and two-high safety situations which indicated some versatility, but he still may need to fit in the correct scheme to be effective in the NFL. He’s an extremely quick player with nice reactions and great speed in addition to a lot of special teams experience. Davis is a very smart player who can turn ordinary plays into turnover opportunities, but I want to see him get two hands on the ball more often and improve in one-on-one tackling situations.

15) Ar’Darius Washington, TCU; Ht: 5-8 Wt: 178

Were it not for being such a small man in general, Ar’Darius Washington would probably be ranked much higher across the board. He’s shown to be a very talented free safety, especially in zone schemes, and is technical in the fundamentals of the position, from the drop to the reads. Washington should be okay in man coverage and in deep situations, but the fact that he had so much help in the secondary at TCU may give some NFL teams pause. Regardless, the player is very confident and aggressive in his play style which makes up for a lot of shortcomings. Sometimes he can be caught up too long in reading the backfield and be left chasing a route, but a good safeties coach should be able to make a nice player out of Washington regardless.

Other Draft Materials

Draft Big Board
Mock Draft 1.0
Mock Draft 2.0
Mock Draft 3.0: All Offense
Mock Draft 3.1: All Defense
Mock Draft 4.0
Mock Draft 5.0
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