2021 NFL Draft: Top 5 Safety Rankings

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Merry Christmas NFL Draft fans! The commissioner will take to the stage in less than 12 hours and with all our preparation done here at Game On Wisconsin, I break down our top five safeties in the 2021 NFL Draft.

Relative to other years, this safety class isn’t regarded as one of the strongest. We’ll likely see only one or two go off the board on Thursday night. However as day two gets rolling, get ready to hear many of these names come flying off the board.

1. Trevon Moehrig, TCU

Trevon Moehrig is the consensus #1 safety in this class and probably the only guy considered for a first round selection. Many would even argue there’s a tier gap between him and the rest of the position group. He has good size and length which make him excellent at the catch point. Moehrig led all of college football in pass breakups over the past two seasons per PFF.

Trevon is a versatile guy who has very few holes in his game to note. While he excels in zone coverage, he can easily man up in the slot, and does enough in the run game to not be a liability.

Moehrig would be a great fit for Joe Barry’s defensive scheme in Green Bay and will hopefully be available at pick 29. He would allow Barry to get creative with other parts of the Packers’ defense such as Darnell Savage.

2. Jevon Holland, Oregon

Holland is a prospect I’ve really warmed to as the draft process has gone on. I previously criticised him for not doing anything at an elite level, but his “jack of all traits, master of none” play style is still extremely valuable to NFL defensive coordinators.

Holland can align pretty much anywhere on the back end, and his elite testing numbers even make outside CB a possibility for Holland in the coming years. But he will likely be best suited in the slot from day one.

Holland is a ball hawk with 20 interceptions in 2 seasons in Eugene. He is smooth and fluid in man coverage and does well matched up against either tight ends or receivers. Holland is also extremely willing as a tackler, with impressive technique too.

Opting out in 2020 probably caused some of Holland’s hype to fizzle out, and as a decently well-rounded player, there isn’t one exact thing that he thrives at on the football field, or does better than anyone else in the class.

3. Richie Grant, UCF

Grant probably has the ‘floor’ of a first round pick in this draft class. He’s played at virtually every DB position for UCF, and executed at a high level thanks to his quick mental processing speed and reactions. Tackling is probably the strongest pasty of Grant’s game overall.

However Grant will almost assuredly have a limited ceiling in the NFL. He’ll enter his rookie season at 24 years old, and he doesn’t have the elite speed, size or other traits that usually lead to development in the league.

With how mentally polished Grant is as a player, and with his lack of room for growth at the next level, it may be the case that what you see is what you get. But that’s not to say Grant isn’t still a very good player and solid starting safety.

4. Damar Hamlin, Pittsburgh

Hamlin is my favourite sleeper pick in this year’s safety class. He plays the game at 100mph and outplayed fellow Pitt safety prospect Paris Ford when both were on the field together.

With decent size, Hamlin loves getting his jersey dirty, constantly seeking action. This pays off in a number of ways. His ‘see ball, get ball’ mentality pays off on the back end as he gets physical at the catch point, and in the run game, he’s just hunting for contact. His acceleration shows with his 100th percentile 10-yard split, but his speed eventually fizzles out as he begins to get in stride.

With a 6.98 RAS, Hamlin tested as expected, as a good not great athlete. The biggest knock on Damar is that, unlike others in this draft class, Hamlin doesn’t have experience playing a wide variety of roles, and we really didn’t see him play single high at all for the Panthers.

5. Hamsah Nasirildeen, Florida State

Nasirildeen is guy who will probably go in early day three but I think he has an insane amount of upside in the league. At 6’3, 215 lbs, and some of the longest arms we’ve ever seen from a safety prospect, Hamsah’s athletic upside is quite intriguing.

Nasirildeen lined up everywhere for the Seminoles, with the size to play in the box and be a ferocious tackler, the athleticism to neutralize tight ends, as well as enough ball skills to force turnovers as a deep safety. However the box will be where he sees the majority of his playing time in the NFL.

Some are worried about Nasirildeen’s lack of explosion, which was magnified by his brutal 32” vertical jump at the Florida State pro day. Nonetheless I think his size alone makes him the 5th best safety in this class who can come in and develop into a dangerous player in years to come.

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