With Rodney McLeod off to the Colts and Anthony Harris only back on a one-year deal, safety is a need for the Philadelphia Eagles. The team certainly needs more long-term security at this position. Fortunately, the 2022 NFL Draft offers a handful of talented back end defenders who could come to the Eagles in the early rounds. Here are the top safeties in the class.
Kyle Hamilton, Notre Dame, 6’4 ”, 220 Pounds
What he does well: Basically everything. Kyle Hamilton is one of the best and most complete prospects in the class. The Irish played him all over the field and he responded with elite level play. He is a very good athlete that can cover tight ends with ease and has no problem flowing around the field. His size and physical playing style makes him an asset on run defense and functionally another linebacker when he is near the line of scrimmage.
Where he can improve: Despite being a versatile weapon at the college level, Hamilton might be more of a true strong safety in the NFL. Not for lack of ability, but to maximize what he does best as someone who can cover the slot, the shallow middle of the field and defend against the run.
NFL Comparison: Kam Chancellor
Lewis Cine, Georgia, 6’2 ”, 199 Pounds
What he does well: Playing on the same defense with Jordan Davis, Nakobe Dean, and Travon Walker make it pretty hard to get noticed, but Lewis Cine was quietly one of the most important defenders on the team. His football IQ, speed and physicality meant the Bulldogs trusted him with a lot of responsibilities in coverage all over the field. His excellent tackling make him a great last line of defense in any secondary and also make him an asset as a run defender.
Where he can improve: Cine is a bit lean at 6’2 ”and would benefit with a bit more bulk in the NFL. That being said, it is hard to find one aspect of Cine’s game that is below average.
NFL Comparison: Jevon Holland
Jaquan Brisker, Penn State
What he does well: Aggressive, athletic safety that can play anywhere on the field. Fierce playing mentality and always looking for the big play in coverage and as a tackler.
Where he can improve: Big play hunting hurts him in coverage. Can get manipulated by quarterbacks in coverage and sometimes bites on routes too early. Looking for the kill shot as a tackler can sometimes lead to bad angles and worse misses.
NFL Comparison: Dashon Goldson
Daxton Hill, Michigan, 6’1 ”, 191 Pounds
What he does well: Daxton “Dax” Hill was one of Michigan’s most important defenders in their 2021 run to a playoff appearance. The athletic safety was relied on to play all over the Michigan seconadary and handled his responsibilities very well. He is an advanced coverage player.
Where he can improve: Hill is an okay tackler who needs to do better coming up consistently to stop the run. His lean build at the position could be prohibitive of higher level play the closer he gets to the line of scrimmage. Might be better as a pure deep safety.
NFL Comparison: Reggie Nelson
Jalen Pitre, Baylor, 5’11 ”, 196 Pounds
What he does well: Perfect demeanor for the safety position. His responsibilities in the Baylor defense functionally made him a linebacker and he plays like one. He is aggressive, but smart and controlled attacking the line of scrimmage. He makes the middle of the field a scary place for receivers. Well built and uses every pound of muscle as a tackler.
Where he can improve: Pitre is an average athlete who might be relegated to the box in the NFL. He has not much on tape that shows he can thrive in wider spaces. Specific NFL role, but one he could play very well.
NFL Comparison: TJ Ward
Verone McKinley III, Oregon, 5’10 ”, 198 Pounds
What he does well: Verone McKinley was an opportunistic defender on the back end of the Oregon secondary. His football IQ and playmaking mentality yielded big stops and plays on the ball all season.
Where he can improve: McKinley can play like his hair is on fire, but sometimes needs to play with a bit more control. Has the mentality of a strong safety but the size of a free safety.
NFL Comparison: Jimmie Ward