Best 2018 NFL Draft prospects: Safeties

Three safeties in the 2017 NFL Draft were selected in the first round. The 2018 draft class should also produce some good safeties that are good enough to be selected early on in the NFL Draft. Here are the best safety prospects playing college football in 2017:

Derwin James, Florida State

James is an elite safety prospect, that will in no doubt be a first round pick if he can stay healthy. He was sidelined for much of the 2016 campaign with a knee injury. He has great size that NFL teams will love at 6’3″ and 211 pounds.

In 14 games played for the Seminoles, James has totaled 102 tackles, 9.5 tackles for loss, 4.5 sacks, one interception, four passes defended, two forced fumbles and two recovered fumbles. He displays great speed and athleticism, which makes him a unique player.

The Seminoles will play Alabama, Miami, Louisville, Clemson and Florida in the 2017 season. He won’t play too many pocket passing quarterbacks, but does have a chance to play a lot of good receivers this season. James can also help slow down some good rushing attacks this season.

Ronnie Harrison, Alabama

While he hasn’t hit the level of a lot of Alabama secondary players yet, Harrison is still a good NFL prospect. He too has good size at 6’3″ and 216 pounds.

Last year, Harrison had 83 tackles, seven passes defended and two interceptions. While he has the measurables to be a good NFL player, Harrison needs to back up all his potential with some good tape this season.

Alabama plays Florida State, Texas A&M, Tennessee, LSU and Auburn this season. Harrison will be tested against Auburn’s high-powered offense and good receivers on the rest of the teams.

Armani Watts, Texas A&M

Armani Watts NFL

Armani Watts (Photo by: gridironnow.com)

Watts has been a playmaker for the Aggies ever since he stepped on campus. It is fitting that he will be taken in the first few rounds of the 2018 NFL Draft. He is a bit undersized at 5’11” and 200 pounds.

In his career at Texas A&M, Watt has accrued 237 tackles, 14 tackles for loss and six interceptions. He has played in a total of 33 games and brings a lot of experience to the table. His best season was in 2015, when he played 13 games. Last year he tore his hamstring against Ole Miss and only ended up playing in eight games. He needs to stay relatively healthy this season to make teams have a vote of confidence in him.

The Aggies play a very difficult schedule in 2017 and their opponents include: UCLA, Alabama, Florida, Auburn and LSU. These teams provide a wide variety of assets for Watts to go up against and should allow him to prove himself many more times for NFL scouts.

Jordan Whitehead, Pittsburgh

Jordan Whitehead NFL

Jordan Whitehead (Photo by: zimbio.com)

Another safety prospect that has been starting from his freshman season, Whitehead has been a star for the Panthers. He too is a little undersized at 5’11” and 190 pounds.

As a freshman in 2015, Whitehead had 110 total tackles. He is very physical and able to come up and stop the run, but also demonstrates good range while defending passes. He was lost to the season with an arm injury last year after playing in the first nine games of the season.

The Panthers play a tough schedule that should test Whitehead. Their big games are against: Penn State, Oklahoma State, North Carolina, Miami and Virginia Tech. The biggest games that will impact Whitehead’s draft stock are against Penn State and Oklahoma State, who should have high-scoring offenses.

 

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“From Our Haus to Yours”

2016 AdvoCare V100 Texas Bowl Preview

Kansas State has been a solid team that not many people have talked about all year, while Texas A&M fizzled down the stretch, as the two teams meet in the 2016 AdvoCare V100 Texas Bowl.

Texas A&M Aggies

The Aggies were hot for the first two months of the season, but lost four of their last six games to finish at 8-4. They have good wins over Tennessee, UTSA, Auburn, Arkansas and South Carolina. Their loss to Ole Miss was the only one to a bowl ineligible team.

Trevor Knight was doing a solid job as quarterback for the Aggies, before getting injured and missing the rest of the season. Jake Hubenak took over and actually had a better completion percentage at 59%. That still isn’t great, but he is growing as a quarterback in his first career starts. He also had six touchdowns and two interceptions.

Texas Bowl

Myles Garrett (photo courtesy: profootballfocus.com)

Texas A&M has a lot of good receivers that can make plays once the ball is in their hands. Josh Reynolds, Christian Kirk, Ricky Seals-Jones and Speedy Noil all have produced for the Aggies. They might have the deepest receiving core in the country. The production isn’t always there for these guys, but the talent is. Reynolds and Kirk have had the best seasons with over 800 receiving yards on the season.

Freshman running back Trayveon Williams has been a great find for Texas A&M. He eclipsed the 1,000 yard mark with 1,024 rushing yards and added eight rushing touchdowns. His ability to catch passes out of the backfield has also helped the offense move the ball. Keith Ford is more of the power back and gets carries when Williams comes out. He has 583 rushing yards and five touchdowns.

The rush defense for the Aggies has been extremely average, allowing 190 yards per game. For Texas A&M pass defense is the issue as they give up 284 yards per game.

Myles Garrett has been a force to be reckoned with ever since he came on campus. He will likely be the number one pick in the 2017 NFL Draft. Armani Watts has also helped out a lot with pass defense, but may not play with a knee injury.

Kansas State Wildcats

The Wildcats were a quiet 8-4 team that no one seems to notice. They only lost to teams they should have and all of them are in bowl games. Their two wins over bowl eligible teams came over Baylor and TCU.

Jesse Ertz has done it all for the Wildcats at the quarterback position. He has only thrown for 1,560 yards and eight touchdowns, but adds the capability to move the ball with his legs. As the team’s leading rusher, Ertz has run through tacklers for 945 yards and ten touchdowns.

Texas Bowl

Jordan Willis (Photo courtesy: chatsports.com)

Byron Pringle has made the most of Ertz’s few passing yards. He only has three touchdowns, but does have 524 receiving yards.

Kansas State doesn’t play around once they get to the goal line. They hand it off to their fullback, Winston Dimel, who ran it into the end zone for 12 touchdowns this season. They use a plethora of backs to move the ball other than Dimel. Alex Barnes is a threat for big plays at 7.9 yards per carry.

The Wildcats have a great rush defense that allows just 113 yards on the ground per game. They get torched in the passing game though and give up 270 yards per game.

Defensive lineman Jordan Willis has terrorized opposing offensive lines with 11.5 sacks and 16.5 tackles for loss. He needs to get to the quarterback fast to stop the Aggies from being able to pass the ball effectively.

Prediction

Texas A&M has too much talent to lose this game. They have NFL level talent on a lot of different levels of their offense and defense. Garrett will have a great last game as an Aggie and show his ability to stop the run as well as rush the passer.

 

Texas A&M Aggies 31 Kansas State 22

 

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2017 NFL Mock Draft December 14

1. Cleveland Browns- Myles Garrett, DE, Texas A&M

The Browns reportedly have a very high grade on Garrett and are not targeting a quarterback with their first pick. Garrett is the premier pass rusher in college football, but has also proven to be a good run defender as well. Cleveland has to acquire talent all over their roster, so they need to take the best player available, who is Garrett.

2. San Francisco 49ers- DeShone Kizer, QB, Notre Dame

Chip Kelly needs to attempt to find a quarterback to run his system. Kizer has the size and arm strength to be a franchise quarterback. He has some issues with being consistent with the accuracy of his passes, but for the most part is decent. If he wants to be successful he should work on putting passes in areas for wide receivers to run after the catch.

3. Jacksonville Jaguars- Leonard Fournette, RB, LSU

T.J. Yeldon and Chris Ivory haven’t been great for the Jaguars so they can get a running back who has game-changing capabilities here. Fournette can do everything required as a running back and can really help out the struggling Blake Bortles by providing a running game.

4. Chicago Bears- Mitch Trubisky, QB, North Carolina

Matt Barkley has played better than expected, but the Bears will still need a new quarterback. Trubisky has protected the football very well, with the exception of a couple of games. Issues that scouts will find with him are that he has only started one season of college football and a lot of his stats come from screen passes where receivers run after the catch.

5. Tennessee Titans (via LA)- Adoree Jackson, CB/WR, USC

Tennessee has two first round picks via the Jared Goff trade and have to use one of those picks on secondary help. Jackson is one of the fastest players in the entire class and almost qualified for the track and field team in the Olympics this summer. He is a shut down corner, who plays like Deion Sanders. The most impressive thing he does is slow down to bait the quarterback into throwing a pass and then speed up to intercept it.

6. New York Jets- Quincy Wilson, CB, Florida

Florida has plenty of good defensive players, but Wilson is the one who has risen up draft boards the most. The Jets could use a good corner as theirs are aging. Their defensive line is good so now they need to improve the secondary to make their defense better.

7. Cleveland Browns- Reuben Foster, ILB, Alabama

Inside linebackers don’t usually get drafted this high, but Foster is that good. The Browns drafted their pass rusher and now can get an inside linebacker. Foster and Garrett can be the start to a decent defense if Hue Jackson is sold on starting Cody Kessler.

8. Carolina Panthers- Jonathan Allen, DT/DE, Alabama

Carolina hasn’t been the same team as last year and that starts in the trenches. Allen is the best prospect available and fills a need. The Panthers would have a dynamic defensive line heading into next season if they could score Allen, leading to another playoff run.

9. New Orleans Saints- Marshon Lattimore, CB, Ohio State

The Saints defense gives up 27 points per game and is one of the worst pass defenses in the league. Their offense is great as usual, but if they want to win the division they need to select a corner like Lattimore.

10. San Diego Chargers- Cam Robinson, OT, Alabama

Phillip Rivers deserves the most credit in the league for keeping his team competitive with all of his skill position players hurt and a bad offensive line. Robinson can slide right in and start protecting the aging Rivers and give him more time to make plays.

11. Cincinnati Bengals- Jabrill Peppers, CB/S/LB, Michigan

The Bengals defense has a lot of deficiencies and Peppers can fill in at several different positions. He has been successful at corner and safety for his career and done well at linebacker this season. He could fit in wherever the Bengals feel they have the biggest hole and be productive.

12. Arizona Cardinals- Malik McDowell, DT, Michigan State

Calais Campbell can’t play forever and at the very least McDowell can play alongside him. McDowell is a great run stopper and often takes up two blockers when opponents try to pass.

13. Indianapolis Colts- Jamal Adams, S, LSU

The Colts defense is an absolute mess, but they really need safeties. Adams is the best one in the class and has proven to come up and play the run well. He has also shown the ability to cover elite college tight ends, which should translate well to his future role in the NFL.

14. Buffalo Bills- Derek Barnett, DE, Tennessee

Buffalo has a pretty good pass rush, but it could be better. Barnett is one of the best pass rushers in the class and can also help stop the run at an average level.

15. Philadelphia Eagles- Marlon Humphrey, CB, Alabama

The secondary play has improved since the departure of Chip Kelly, because they aren’t on the field as much, but they still aren’t great. If the Eagles can nab a corner, their defense could become elite.

16. Houston Texans- Sidney Jones, CB, Washington

Houston would really like a quarterback after whiffing on Brock Osweiler, but none will fit in this range. They can improve their defense though, as their corners haven’t played great this season. Jones will be an upgrade over the Texans corners from two on down.

17. Tennessee Titans- Mike Williams, WR, Clemson

Williams is the best red zone threat in college football from the wide receiver position. He is tall and lanky, but athletic to make great catches. Mariota needs a go to receiver to throw to, if they improve their secondary with their first pick.

18. Baltimore Ravens- Dalvin Cook, RB, Florida State

The Ravens haven’t had a good running back since Ray Rice when he was in his prime. Cook is a fast back, who can still run in between the tackles. He will also be a very valuable target for Joe Flacco out of the backfield.

19. Green Bay Packers- Zach Cunningham, LB, Vanderbilt

Cunningham is from Alabama, but wasn’t recruited by the big name schools in the state, so he elected to go to Vanderbilt. He is long and lanky, some say too much for an inside linebacker, but has used that to his advantage. He is a tackle machine who is great at diagnosing plays. He also had a great blocked kick, which was one of the plays of the season.

20. Washington Redskins- Tre’Davious White, CB, LSU

With the exception of Josh Norman, the rest of Washington’s secondary has been horrendous. White is a great corner, who also can be dynamic in the kick return game. He is a team leader who was awarded the number 18 for two straight years at LSU, which is given by the former wearers of the number.

21. Tampa Bay Buccaneers- Charles Harris, DE/OLB, Missouri

The Buccaneers defensive line needs to be upgraded. Gerald Mccoy and Noah Spence have played well, but no one else has. Harris can play the opposite end of Spence and provide a good pass rusher and an average run defender.

22. Miami Dolphins- Quenton Nelson, OG, Notre Dame

Jay Ajayi and Ryan Tannehill brought their games to a new level on their win streak, but the offensive line still isn’t great. The interior of the line is the main issue that will have to be addressed. Nelson is a plug and play guy from Notre Dame who is overshadowed by McGlinchey, but has had an impressive season himself.

23. Denver Broncos- Caleb Brantley, DT, Florida

Jared Crick hasn’t played well this season. Brantley cloggs up running room in the middle of the defense and can make guys like Von Miller even better.

24. Atlanta Falcons Dawuane Smoot, DE, Illinois

Vic Beasley is killing it this year for the Falcons, but needs a partner in crime. Smoot is a good pass rusher that can develop into a better players in the pros. The year under Lovie Smith at Illinois can’t hurt either.

25. Pittsburgh Steelers- Desmond King, CB, Iowa

There is talk of King having to switch to safety due to his lack of speed, but both positions are needs for the Steelers. King was the defensive back of the year in 2015 and was still productive this season. He has safe hands in the return game and can bust some loose. The Steelers need to stop putting Antonio Brown back for returns, as he is too valuable to get hurt.

26. Seattle Seahawks- Mike McGlinchey, OT, Notre Dame

Seattle’s offensive line struggles have been well documented. McGlinchey’s versatility is key for the Seahawks as he has played left tackle, right tackle and could play guard if needed.

27. Detroit Lions- Chris Wormley, DE, Michigan

Wormley isn’t the greatest pass rusher, but has a great motor. He is also above average at stopping the run. His six foot six inch height and 302 pound weight will be something that NFL teams covet. The Lions’ defensive line needs some consistent production like Wormley will provide.

28. New York Giants- Carroll Phillips, DE/OLB, Illinois

The Giants’ defensive line stepped up in the Dallas game, but for now they still need help there. Phillips can be another pass rusher that can at the very least come in on third downs and help out.

29. Oakland Raiders- O.J. Howard, TE, Alabama

Clive Walford is ok, but the position could be upgraded to provide an even more dynamic offense. O.J. Howard is under utilized at Alabama, but Derek Carr will use him to make a good offense great.

30. Kansas City Chiefs- John Ross, WR, Washington

There may not be a faster player in college football than John Ross. The Chiefs’ offense looked a lot better with Alex Smith actually throwing the ball downfield.

31. New England Patriots- Armani Watts, S, Texas A&M

Watts is good in coverage and can also hit hard on occasion. The Patriots need to get Patrick Chung out of the lineup, as he has really struggled.

32. Dallas Cowboys- Tim Williams, DE/OLB, Alabama

The Cowboys need defensive line help yet again and can go for Williams, who was a pass rush specialist last year, but has improved against the run this year.

 

For more mock drafts: DC Pro Sports Report

 

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