The final position group of our draft preview series, safety has become a hot commodity in large part because of Seattle’s run to a Super Bowl title last season. Earl Thomas became an overnight sensation for the Seahawks, fast enough to stay with the game’s best receivers and physical enough to cover tight ends and lay out running backs — and pulling guards.
The 49ers drafted a super star in the making in Eric Reid last year. So they’re pretty set at safety.
Here is what cover32’s Buck Stanton had to say in his breakdown of the top 10 safeties in this year’s draft.
“Safety is an evolving position in the NFL, much like many that are involved in the ever-expanding passing game. Gone are the days when they are glorified linebackers, asked to stop the run as much as they were to cover pass catchers. Now, safeties are asked to be versatile, multi-dimensional players.
As tight ends get more and more athletic, becoming more like big wide receivers instead of fast offensive tackles, covering them downfield is a more difficult job. And as quarterbacks continue to squeeze passes into tighter and tighter spaces in the seams of a defense, the ability to close those gaps is an essential task.
Both of those jobs fall on the modern-day safety.
That means a new skill set is required to play the position. Yes, safeties still need to be able to deliver a big hit. But that’s now just a part of the gig; running, covering and having a nose for the football when it’s in the air are suddenly just as important.
As teams look for a safety to fill this role, the NFL Draft is a great place to start. It provides the chance to find a game changer for the next decade, someone like Earl Thomas or Eric Berry.”