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Top 10 Safeties of the 2022 NFL Draft

Top 10 Safeties of the 2022 NFL Draft

1) Kyle Hamilton, Notre Dame 

Key Measurables: 6040, 220 lb, 38 inch vertical, 33 arm 

Notable 2021 stats: 34 tackles, 7 PBUs, 0,74 Yds/Cov Snap, 3 INTs 2 TFLs (7 games)

Best Trait: Burst to Close 

Player Comp: Harrison Smith 

Background: 

Hamilton is a JR DB at Notre Dame who started every game over his last two seasons, compiling 19 starts over 3 seasons. Rated as a four-star recruit coming out of high school according to 247Sports. He was named a team captain for the 2021 season as a junior.

2021 season was cut short due to a knee injury but despite the injury made multiple mid and end-of-season awards lists that include Phil Steele’s All American First Team and the Associated Press’ All American Second Team. Achieved this under Brian Kelly (Head Coach) and Marcus Freeman (Defensive Coordinator). He played 233 snaps in the slot and 124 at free safety this past season. Hamilton’s rare size combined with his borderline outstanding athletic ability will allow him to be a chess piece for defensive coordinators at the next level. 

Projection: 

Overall, this prospect can be used as a plug-and-play immediate impactful starter at safety, either free or strong, and has all the tools to be top 10 at his position, with pro-bowl potential. His range and instincts allow him to cover the entire field from sideline to sideline. He can play close to the line of scrimmage on early downs. His outstanding plant and drive and burst to close will allow him to make plays behind the LOS. Hamilton is an impact player at the next level. Day 1 draft pick, 1st round. 

Full Scouting Report

2) Lewis Cine, Georgia 

Key Measurables: 6020, 199 lb, 32 ¼ arm, 4.37 speed

Notable 2021 stats: 73 tackles, 10 PBUs, 0.74 Yd/Cov Snap, 1 INT, 2 TFLs

Best Trait: Plant & Drive 

Player Comp: Morgan Burnett 

Background:

Cine is a JR, DB at Georgia who started in 27 games throughout his three seasons. Rated as a four-star recruit coming out of high school according to 247Sports. Became a full-time starter for their defense his sophomore season. As a junior in 2021, he was an AP All-SEC first team and an AP third-team All-American. He also led Georgia in total tackles. Achieved this under Kirby Smart (Head Coach) and Dan Lanning (Defensive Coordinator). He played the majority of his snaps at free safety (519) and projects to fit best there at the next level. 

Projection:

Overall, Cine projects as an immediate starting-caliber-free safety. Cine has the ability to process quickly, burst to close the distance, and shows outstanding plant and drive to finish tackles. Needs to improve his pad level. Tackles high which causes him to miss tackles.

Above-the-line athletic ability and range make him an ideal free safety and his instincts allow him to anticipate throws and process plays quickly. He can play both adequate man and above-the-line zone coverage. Cine can play at the LOS if needed with his play strength. Late-1st to early-2nd round talent. 

Full Scouting Report

3) Jalen Pitre, Baylor 

Key Measurables: 5110, 198 lb 

Notable 2021 stats: 76 tackles, 7 PBUs, 0.36 Yd/Cov Snap, 2 sacks, 18 TFLs, 2 INTs, 3 FFs 

Best Trait: Twitch/Suddenness

Player Comp: Donovan Wilson 

Background:

Pitre is a RS SR DB at Baylor, who started 32 games out of 50 throughout his career at Baylor. Rated as a three-star recruit out of high school, according to 247Sports. In 2021, Pitre earned an AP first-team All-America, first team-All Big-12, and was the Big-12 Defensive Player of the Year. In 2020, first-team All-Big-12. Achieved under Dave Aranda (Head Coach) and Ron Roberts (Defensive Coordinator). 

Projection:

Overall, Pitre projects to be a slot corner, and/or a dime/nickel safety. He projects to be a plus starter at the next level in his rookie season. He will have to be used in the correct scheme since this prospect brings versatility to a defense. He has a skinny frame and lacks length.

Pitre will have to add on size. He took 611 snaps from the slot this year. He’s at his best close to LOS. He plays with physicality close to LOS despite his size. Shows his above-the-line twitch when blitzing from the slot or close to LOS. His quickness allows him to beat linemen around the edge. He tackles adequately close to the LOS and in between the tackles. He needs to improve on breaking down when tackling and not diving at ankles to be successful. Cover ability in man and zone is adequate. Late-1st to early-2nd round talent. 

Full Scouting Report

4) Jaquan Brisker, Penn State 

Key Measurables: 6010, 199 lb, 9 ⅞ hand, 4.49 speed 

Notable 2021 stats: 63 tackles, 7 PBUs, 0.28 Yd/Cov Snap, 1.0 sack, 3 TFLs

Best Trait: Ball Skills 

Player Comp: Jordan Fuller

Background:

Brisker is a Super Senior DB at Penn State. He was a two-year starter with 21 starts. Former JUCO product out of Lackawanna Community College. Rated as a four-star recruit out of high school according to 247Sports. Grandfather Jon Brisker played basketball at Toledo. In 2021, he was an AP second-team All-America and a first-team All-Big Ten. He was voted Penn State’s MVP on defense. Achieved this under James Franklin (Head Coach) and James Pry (Defensive Coordinator). 

Projection:

Overall, he projects to be a plus starter at strong safety at the next level in his rookie season. This prospect shows good intelligence and plays recognition before the snap and as plays develop.

He projects best to a strong safety role due to his adequate ability in run support and adequate ability in coverage. Needs to improve his high stance on his backpedal and his open-field tackling. Brisker has above-the-line ball skills and the size to be an immediate impact as a rookie. His athletic profile, physicality, ball skills, and special teams experience give him a higher ceiling. Early-2nd round talent. 

Full Scouting Report

More Top 10 2022 NFL Draft Prospect Lists:

Quarterbacks | Running Backs | Wide Receivers | Tight Ends | Offensive Tackles |Interior Offensive Line | Edge Rushers | Interior Defensive Line | Linebackers | Cornerbacks | Safeties

5) Daxton Hill, Michigan 

Key Measurables: 6000, 191 lb, 32 ¼ arm, 9 ½ hand, 4.38 speed

Notable 2021 stats: 69 tackles, 11 PBUs, 1.05 Yd/Cov Snap, 4.5 TFLs

Best Trait: Explosiveness/Cover Ability 

Player Comp: MJ Stewart 

Background:

Hill is a JR DB at Michigan, who started in 23 games in his career out of 33. He was a former five-star recruit out of high school according to 247Sports. Hill is the brother of current NFL running back Justice Hill. He earned an All-BIG-10 honoree

(first-team, coaches, second-team, media). Achieved under Jim Harbaugh (Head Coach) and Mike Macdonald (Defensive Coordinator). 

Projection:

Hill projects to eventually be a plus starter within his first two years. He played 533 snaps in the slot this past season. He can be a nickel package safety and at free safety with the potential to develop into a corner. Hill has all the athletic traits needed to play free safety at the next level.

Shows outstanding explosiveness in his game. Needs to add muscle to his frame to help with his block shedding and tackling ability. Having above-the-line experience in both man and zone coverage from the slot. This will be valuable as he lined up against multiple NFL-caliber TEs and WRs while at Michigan and held his own. Early-to-mid 2nd round talent. 

Full Scouting Report

6) Kerby Joseph, Illinois 

Key Measurables: 6010, 203 lb, 10 ¼ hand, 33 arm, 38.5 vert 

Notable 2021 stats: 57 tackles, 7 PBUs, 0.39 Yd/Cov Snap 

Best Trait: Ball Skills 

Player Comp: Marcus Williams 

Background:

Joseph is a JR DB at Illinois who started only 14 games in his career in 4 seasons with no significant time loss due to injury. Rated a three-star recruit out of high school according to 247Sports while running track and playing volleyball. He earned an All-BIG-10 honoree (first-team, media, second-team, coaches). Achieved this under Bret Bielema (Head Coach) and Ryan Walters (Defensive Coordinator).

Projections:

Joseph projects to eventually be an average starting free safety at the next level. He played a majority of his snaps at Illinois at free safety (400+) and has the athletic and movement abilities to cover the field from sideline to sideline. His ball skills will make an immediate impact at the next level because of his above-the-line instincts, body control, and change of direction abilities. Plays the ball and uses his length well to break up passes before and after a receiver gets his hands on the ball. Needs to improve on his plant and drive in order to show his true potential. Mid-to-late 2nd round talent. 

Full Scouting Report

7) Bryan Cook, Cincinnati

Key Measurables: 6010, 206 lb, 31 ⅞ arm 

Notable 2021 stats: 96 tackles, 9 PBUs, 0.39 Yd/Cov Snap, 5 TFLs

Best Trait: Run Support/Tackling 

Player Comp: Sheldrick Redwine 

Background:

Cook, is a RS SR DB at Cincinnati who is a one-year starter. Starting in 16 career games. Started his playing career at Howard University before transferring to Cincinnati in 2019, having to sit out until the 2020 season. All-AAC First Team selection. Achieved this under Luke Fickell (Head Coach) and Mike Tressel (Defensive Coordinator). 

Projection:

Overall, this prospect has the potential to be an average starter as a strong or box safety due to his above-the-line run support ability paired with being a sure tackler. Will have to play a key role on special teams to improve to become an average starter. In addition, his above-the-line play strength allows him to get off TE blocks quickly.

His above-the-line twitch and suddenness allow him to react to plays at an above-the-line level even if he makes a wrong initial diagnosis. He struggles with covering routes that develop downfield but can and will be effective in covering RBs and TEs in the flats on shorter routes. He will need time to develop his instincts and cover routes downfield in order to show his true potential. Late-2nd to early-3rd round talent. 

Full Scouting Report

8) Nick Cross, Maryland 

Key Measurables: 6000, 212 lb, 37 vert, 4.34 speed 

Notable 2021 stats: 66 tackles, 2 PBUs, 3 INTs, 3.5 TFLs, 3.0 sacks

Best Trait: Explosiveness 

Player Comp: Tarvarius Moore 

Background:

Cross is a JR DB at Maryland who started 21 games out of 30 games in his career. Rated as a four-star recruit coming out of high school. Cross was coached by current Maryland running backs coach Elijah Brooks in high school. In 2021, earned Honorable Mention All-Big Ten team. Achieved this under Michael Locksley (Head Coach) and Brian Stewart (Defensive Coordinator). Was Honorable Mention All-Big Ten team in 2019 and 2020. 

Projection:

Cross projects as a backup strong safety or box safety in the NFL with special teams upside due to his outstanding explosiveness, plant and drive, and speed. Has the ability to explode downhill to support in the run, needing to have more of a breakdown before contact. Struggles to leave his feet when tackling. Above-the-line plant and drive.

Makes contact with force and drives his feet with his explosiveness. Above the line speed, pursuit angles in chasing the ball carrier, closing in, and covering ground. Ability to get over the top in deep single-high coverage, which helps make him successful at safety. Needs to develop his instincts, ball skills, and run support in order to become an average starter at the next level. Mid-to-late 3rd round talent. 

Full Scouting Report

9) Verone McKinley lll, Oregon 

Key Measurables: 5100, 198 lb 

Notable 2021 stats: 78 tackles, 12 PBUs, 0.49 Yd/Cov Snap 

Best Trait: Ball Skills 

Player Comp: Xavier Woods 

Background:

McKinley is a RS SO,DB at Oregon who started 31 out of 38 games played in his career at safety. Rated a three-star recruit according to 247Sports. An early enrollee in January 2018.Has 11 career interceptions. An AP first-team All-America in 2021 and AP first-team All-PAC-12. Achieved this under Mario Cristobal (Head Coach) and Tim DeRuyter (Defensive Coordinator) 

Projection:

McKinley projects as a backup-free safety in the NFL with special teams upside. Outstanding ball skills for the position. Reads and reacts to a quarterback’s eyes and movements. His above-the-line instincts and burst to close will allow him to find the ball and create turnovers in coverage which will be covered at the next level.

He’ll be effective in run defense and has the toughness and physicality to find a role on special teams early in his career. If he can add a little more to his frame and improve his tackling form and ability he can develop into an average starting free safety. Late-3rd to early-4th round talent. 

Full Scouting Report

10) Tycen Anderson, Toledo 

Key Measurables: 6020, 209 lb, 10 ⅛ hand, 33 arm, 4.36 speed 

Notable 2021 stats: 41 tackles, 1 PBU, 0.80 Yd/Cov Snap, 1.0 sack, 2 TFLs

Best Trait: Burst to Close 

Player Comp: DeShon Elliot 

Background:

Anderson is a Super SR DB at Toledo who was a 3-year starter with Toledo, starting in 27 games. Three-star recruit coming out of high school according to 247Sports. Participated in basketball and track & field. Took third in the state in the long jump as a junior. In 2021, earned All-MAC First Team Defense. Achieved this under Jason Candle (Head Coach) and Vince Kehres (Defensive Coordinator). 

Projection:

Anderson projects to be a backup nickel safety, plays in the box in the NFL with special teams background experience. He played most of this past season in the slot (335). His above-the-line size and movement ability may be intriguing in a later round pick-up. Has the ability to cover a variety of positions, including slot receivers.

Struggles to shed blocks against TE/OL but Anderson is an above-the-line tackler close to the LOS. Anderson can develop into an average starting strong safety. He needs to improve his footwork in his cover ability and close the distance when the ball is in the air in order to show his true success. Early-to-mid 4th round talent.

Full Scouting Report

More Top 10 2022 NFL Draft Prospect Lists:

Quarterbacks | Running Backs | Wide Receivers | Tight Ends | Offensive Tackles |Interior Offensive Line | Edge Rushers | Interior Defensive Line | Linebackers | Cornerbacks | Safeties