Last week we looked at defensive tackles, this week we’ll look at the safety position. The safety play for the Lions so far this season has been pretty good. Glover Quin has already matched the amount of interceptions he had in 2016. Tavon Wilson and Miles Killebrew have also played well.
Looking forward to this offseason however safety may end up being a position of need for Detroit. Wilson is in the final year of his contract. There is a decent chance that the Lions will look to bring him back but if not then bringing in a young, talented safety would be a wise move.
2018 Draft Class Options- Safety Prospects
It’s not often that a safety gets picked early in the first round of the draft. There are a few that are talented enough for that to happen this year however. Two of them play in the same secondary.
The three safety prospects that will be featured are Florida State’s Derwin James and Alabama’s duo of Minkah Fitzpatrick and Ronnie Harrison.
Derwin James-Florida State
James is the type of safety who does a little bit of everything, and he does it well. He was a star as a true freshman in 2015. That year he had 91 tackles, nine and a half for a loss, four and a half sacks, four pass break-ups and two forced fumbles.
His sophomore year didn’t go as planned however. He suffered a torn meniscus in the second game of the season and missed the remainder of the season. He looks like he’s recovered from the knee injury so that shouldn’t be much of a concern moving forward.
James has great size at 6’3” and 215 lbs. and he’s an outstanding athlete. He’s versatile, he lines up at outside linebacker at times for the Seminoles. The redshirt sophomore is as comfortable playing the the box as he is cover the deep middle of the field. He has even shown the ability to rush the passer when asked.
In coverage James has the ability to match-up with tight ends and running backs in man coverage or play deep safety. Due to his athleticism he has great range when asked to play deep.
Against the run, James does a great job of being physical and is a s0lid tackler in space.
One concern regarding James is that he hasn’t shown much ball-production up to this point in his career. He has the potential to do it but for whatever reason he only has one interception so far.
Minkah Fitzpatrick- Alabama
Fitzpatick is simply one of the best playmakers in college football. As a true freshman in 2015 he logged 45 tackles, two sacks, 11 pass break-ups and two interceptions. Last season as a sophomore he improved on those numbers, recording 66 tackles, seven pass break-ups and six interceptions.
Versatility is also a big part of Fitzpatrick’s game. He splits time between playing safety and corner for the Crimson Tide. He’s more effective at safety where he’s able to sit back and read quarterbacks and use his instincts to make plays on the football. He makes it tough for receivers to gain seperation and make plays.
He doesn’t have great size at 6’1” and 202 lbs. but he’s well put together and has good length. He’s an aggresive run defender who doesn’t miss many tackles.
There aren’t many negatives in Fitzpatrick’s game. One thing is that Alabama doesn’t ask him to play much man coverage. Whether this is because he isn’t good at it or they’d rather use him in zone is unknown, but it could be something that scouts knock him for.
Ronnie Harrison- Alabama
Unlike the other two prospects on this list, Harrison sticks to doing things that a safety traditionally does. He broke out last season with 85 tackles, two interceptions and seven pass break-ups. He’s doing well this season as well, already matching the two interceptions he had last year.
Like James, he also has great size at 6’3” and 216 lbs. Alabama often asks him to play deep and take away half of the field and it’s something that he does well. Harrison is a smart player who can read quarterbacks and takes good angles to the football. His outstanding short-area burst allows him to close and make a play on the ball.
For the most part Harrison is a solid run defender. One problem he has it that sometimes he comes in too high when trying to make a tackle. This leads to missed tackles from time to time. That is something that should be able to be fixed relativily easily.