Serritella: 2019 NFL Draft Primer – Safeties

Alabama Crimson Tide defensive back Deionte Thompson (14) prepares for a defensive play against the Georgia Bulldogs.Photo: Jason Getz-USA TODAY Sports

NFL Draft Scout analyst Ric Serritella has been covering the draft for nearly two decades, gaining a reputation around the league as one of the most dependable resources for insider information. He provides a positional preview of his top five players at each position, along with a small school prospect worth keeping an eye on come draft weekend!

Top 5 Safeties

Deionte Thompson, Alabama – Fast, physical and boasting the ball-skills of a wide receiver, Thompson has the range and ball skills that translate to an instant plug-and-play starter at the next level. Should he be selected in the first round, it would make him the eighth Alabama defensive back to crack the top 32 since 2010.

Chauncey Gardner-Johnson, Florida – NFL teams love playmakers and Gardner-Johnson certainly is that, offering a tantalizing combination of big play chops, experience against elite competition and positional versatility. There is some concern about his true speed but his tape suggests that he could excel in an aggressive defensive alignment.

Johnathan Abram, Mississippi State – A starter as a freshman at Georgia before a stop at the JUCO ranks, Abram is a physical tone-setter with experience handling both safety positions. He’s viewed as a proven commodity who should be able to compete for playing time early in his NFL career due to his raw speed and athleticism.

Darnell Savage, Maryland – While lacking preferred size, Savage is a very physical defender, showing zero hesitation as a tackler or near the line of scrimmage and actually appearing to enjoy the combative nature of the sport. The athletic traits are there to project Savage as a potential future starter in the NFL.

Nasir Adderley, Delaware – The Philadelphia native covers a tremendous amount of ground, displaying natural instincts and hard-hitting ability, along with the ability to score with the ball in his hands. He has started every game for the Blue Hens the past four seasons - the first two at cornerback, the final two at free safety. Adderley shows nice range, physicality and ball-skills to warrant top 50 consideration.

Small School Sleeper

Marvin Tillman, Western Carolina – A aggressive player who is not afraid to mix it up and get his nose dirty, Tillman possesses excellent movement skills and is constantly swarming to the football. He covers a tremendous amount of ground laterally, plus the skill-set and experience to play either safety position. Tillman could really thrive on special teams as a gunner with his play mentality and straight line speed, as he continues his overall development.

*For expansive player rankings in even more in-depth scouting reports, be sure to download Ric Serritella’s 2019 NFL Draft Bible, available here!