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”

2017 NFL Draft Profile: Terrish Webb

Terrish Webb is one of the most experienced players that look to hear their name called in this year’s NFL Draft. The free safety from Pitt played in 45 games in his college career, including all 13 games the Panthers played in his freshman season.

Four years ago, many expected Webb to have success in college on the other side of the ball. Webb played both wide receiver and defensive back in high school, and was listed as a three-star wide receiver in the class of 2013 in 247 Sports’ recruiting database.

One of Webb’s coaches at Pitt suggested the switch to safety, and it’s paid off for Webb.

“It was kind of a switch up, being an offensive type of guy,” Webb said. “Once I got down to the basics I just ran with it.”

Terrish Webb

Photo: CardiacHill.com

While talking about Webb in high school, it’s impossible not to mention his team’s unprecedented success.

Webb was instrumental in helping Clairton High School win 63 straight games, and Webb’s season never ended with a loss. That’s right, Clairton High School won a state championship in all four of Webb’s seasons.

Webb also played in a state championship game with his basketball team in his senior year.

As an all-state athlete, it seems as though his high school career foreshadowed what was to come. All that winning didn’t end when Webb arrived on Pitt’s campus.

Webb and the Panthers handed national champion Clemson its only loss of the season. Pitt upset Clemson, 43-42, and Webb had nine tackles.

As Webb makes his next step, hoping to land on an NFL roster, he knows there’s still work to be done as he prepares for his Pro Day.

“Becoming a little stronger because I’m moving to the next level, so guys are bigger, faster, stronger,” Webb said. “Working on my technique and trying to take less steps as I’m breaking.”

Webb’s strongest suit is his ability to help a team in multiple ways. Webb was asked to do a lot at Pitt, and he answered the bell with vigor.

If an NFL scout walked through Webb’s door tomorrow, Webb is confident that he’d be able to sell himself.

“I would tell him that you’re getting a very smart football player,” Webb said. “I would be able to play special teams and I’m versatile as a defensive back. I can play pretty much anywhere as a defensive back.”

Webb may not be the Malik Hooker of the 2017 NFL Draft class, but he brings a winning charisma and the talent and smarts to contribute in many different facets.

Terrish Webb Scouting Report

Terrish Webb (Photo courtesy: twitter.com)

Webb’s size is adequate (5-foot-11-inches, 195 pounds) for the NFL level and shouldn’t hold him back whatsoever. NFL teams will love the fact that he was in on a lot of snaps for Pitt.

Webb diagnoses plays and route concepts very well. He also trusts his eyes. When he sees something he recognizes, he goes to make a play. Webb has good discipline and isn’t fooled by trick plays or play action passes.

The best trait for Webb is that he doesn’t give up any big plays on deep throws down the middle of his field or on running plays. He won’t let receivers behind him down the middle of the field. On running plays, he gets in good position and makes the play.

He isn’t the hardest hitter, but Webb is a sure tackler who can also break up passing plays by hitting the receivers as soon as they touch the football.

In order for Webb to be successful in the NFL, he will have to cover well one on one and provide good run support. He will likely need to be able to do well on special teams in order to get playing time at the NFL level.

 

You can listen to Tim Miller interview Terrish Webb in its entirety below.

 

Tim Miller contributed the story portion of this article. Joe DiTullio provided the scouting report. 

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National Signing Day 2017: ACC and Notre Dame

The ACC had a great year for football, which was capped off by a National Championship for the Clemson Tigers. Now it’s time to move over to see how the ACC Signing Day has gone. This will be throughout Signing Day. Here is how the teams rank:

1. Florida State Seminoles

Signees: 21, 5*: 3, 4*: 13, 3*: 5, Other: 0

The Seminoles have a solid class that should remain in the top ten, if not the top five, in the nation. Their class is headed by their two five-stars who are signed. Cam Akers is considered by some to be the best running back in the whole class and Joshua Kaindoh is also considered the number one defensive end in the class by some. Florida State targeted a lot of skill position players with plenty of running backs and wide receivers in the class, as well as secondary players. They are in the running for one more five-star recruit and many more four-star recruits.

Top Prospects Signed: DE Joshua Kaindoh (5*), RB Cam Akers (5*), DT Marvin Wilson (5*)

2. Clemson Tigers

Signees: 14, 5*: 0, 4*: 11, 3*: 3, Other: 0

Dabo Swinney has a championship and now, likely has a top ten recruiting class. Tee Higgins is the best committed player so far and will remind a lot of Tiger fans of Mike Williams at the wide receiver position. With Higgins, comes a very talented quarterback prospect in Hunter Johnson. The two will look to be the future of Clemson’s offense. Behind them, Clemson made sure to get depth for the trenches, on both the offensive and defensive line. While there are no five-star players considering them, the Tigers do have a lot of four-star prospects who could sign with them.

Top Prospects Signed: QB Hunter Johnson (4*), WR Tee Higgins (4*)

3. Notre Dame Fighting Irish

Signees: 21, 5*: 0, 4*: 11, 3*: 10, Other: 0

Notre Dame needs better players after a lackluster 2016 season. They have done a solid job in recruiting so far and are looking to have a top 15 recruiting class. Brock Wright is a very talented tight end and Robert Hainsey is a great offensive guard. Those two recruits are the two best players the Fighting Irish have signed so far. Although the defense was a major problem last year, Notre Dame has a lot of offensive players signed in this class. There are a lot of standout prospects still considering the Irish, so they have a real chance to move up in the recruiting ranks.

Top Prospects Signed: TE Brock Wright (4*), LB Robert Hainsey (4*)

4. Miami Hurricanes

Signees: 24, 5*: 0, 4*: 13, 3*: 11, Other: 0

Miami has a good recruiting class, in large part due to the number of commitments they already have. Defensive end D.J. Johnson is one of the best in the class and quarterback N’kosi Perry will provide an athletic quarterback as the two best commitments. Behind these players Miami has a very diversified class, as Mark Richt tries to fill the roster with his types of players. Richt has a chance to make this class even better by getting uncommitted players to choose the Hurricanes today.

Top Prospects Signed: WR Jeff Thomas (4*), DE D.J. Johnson (4*)

5. North Carolina Tar Heels

Signees: 20, 5*: 0, 4*: 8, 3*: 11, Other: 0

Larry Fedora should have the recruits to feel good about his team again heading into the 2017 season. Billy Ross and Jonah Melton are two good offensive line prospects, while Jake Lawler is a good defensive line prospect. The Tar Heels have a well-rounded class, with plenty of players who still may choose to go to school their.

Top Prospects Signed: OT Billy Ross (4*), DE Jake Lawler (4*)

6. Virginia Tech Hokies

Signees: 26, 5*: 0, 4*: 5, 3*: 19, Other: 2

Justin Fuente has put together a pretty good crop of players for his first full recruiting class. With 27 commitments, they have a deep class. Nathan Proctor is their top recruit and plays outside linebacker. Devon Hunter is also a talented safety recruit. Even though they have a lot of players committed, they have more considering becoming a Hokie.

Top Prospects Signed: LB Nathan Proctor (4*), S Devon Hunter (4*)

7. Louisville Cardinals

Signees: 20, 5*: 0, 4*: 6, 3*: 13, Other: 1

The Cardinals had an impressive 2016 campaign and need some more talent to help them cap off a season with an ACC Championship. C.J. Avery is a safety who will help out with all of their departures in the secondary. Justin Marshall will be, yet another good target for Lamar Jackson to throw to.

Top Prospects Signed: S C.J. Avery (4*), WR Justin Marshall (4*)

8. Pittsburgh Panthers

Signees: 25, 5*: 0, 4*: 5, 3*: 16, Other: 4

Pittsburgh has a good class for Pat Narduzzi’s second full year of recruiting. The class is led by a great athlete in Paris Ford and a good running back in Todd Sibley. Running back A.J. Davis is confident he can have an instant impact for the Panthers due to being familiar with their blocking schemes. There is a lot of focus on offense in this class, which will be beneficial for Pitt, due to a lot of players moving on to the next level.

Top Prospects Signed: ATH Paris Ford (4*), RB A.J. Davis (4*)

9. Duke Blue Devils

Signees: 23, 5*: 0, 4*: 3, 3*: 19, Other: 1

David Cutcliffe has done wonders with Duke and now has a chance at a top 40 recruiting class to help him in the future. Jake Marwede will be a tight end that may see the field early for the Blue Devils.  Safety Drew Jordan and outside linebacker Damani Neal will also have a chance to play next season as incoming freshmen. With a lot of good offensive players in the class, Duke should have good depth for Cutcliffe on at least one side of the ball.

Top Prospects Signed: TE Jake Marwede (4*), LB Drew Jordan (4*)

10. Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets

Signees: 24, 5*: 0, 4*: 4, 3*: 18, Other: 2

Georgia Tech is coming off a bowl win over Kentucky and will be looking to become ACC Title contenders again soon. They focused on mostly defense in this class, but their best player is offensive. Running back Bruce-Jordan Swilling will look to get a lot of touches in the triple option attack.

Top Prospects Signed: CB Jaytlin Askew (4*), RB Bruce Jordan-Swilling (4*)

11. North Carolina State Wolfpack

Signees: 22, 5*: 0, 4*: 1, 3*: 18, Other: 3

The Wolfpack had a good season last year, but is still looking to make their recruiting class better. Dual-Threat quarterback Matt McKay is their only four-star commitment so far, but he should be a good player at the college level. NC State has several other decent offensive prospects in the class as well.

Top Prospects Signed: QB Matt McKay (4*), LB Louis Acceus (3*)

12. Virginia Cavaliers

Signees: 27, 5*: 0, 4*: 3, 3*: 19, Other: 5

Bronco Mendenhall has put together a solid first recruiting class for the Cavaliers so far. Two four-star athletes lead the recruiting class in Shawn Smith and Germane Crowell. There are a lot of positions represented, but if the Cavaliers want to compete in the future, they need to get some more players on the offensive line.

Top Prospects Signed: ATH Germane Crowell (4*), ATH Shawn Smith (4*)

13. Syracuse Orange

Signees: 24, 5*: 0, 4*: 1, 3*: 19, Other: 4

Syracuse may rank at 13 in the ACC, for now, but they have an average class nationally. Quarterback Tommy Devito is their only four-star, but can be a program changer as a signal caller. He competed in the elite 11 quarterback camp last summer. The Orange have a lot of solid offensive players in the class, as things currently stand.

Top Prospects Signed: QB Tommy Devito (4*), WR Sharod Johnson (3*)

14. Boston College Eagles

Commitments: 20, 5*: 0, 4*: 0, 3*: 15, Other: 5

It looks like it will be another year near the bottom of the recruiting ranks for the Eagles. Three-star players C.J. Lewis (QB) and A.J. Dillon (RB) are the best players in the class, but will likely not see the field early on in their careers.

Top Prospects Signed: QB C.J. Lewis (3*), RB A.J. Dillon (3*)

15. Wake Forest Demon Deacons

Commitments: 20, 5*: 0, 4*: 0, 3*: 17, Other: 3

Wake Forest had a good season on the field in 2016, but that didn’t translate to the recruiting trail. It will be hard to sustain success in the ACC with no four-star players in the class. Michael Allen Jr. has a chance to be a productive player for the Demon Deacons at defensive end.

Top Prospects Signed: DE Michael Allen Jr. (3*), WR Sage Surratt (3*)

 

Big Ten Signing Day- Here

Big 12 Signing Day- Here

Pac-12 Signing Day- Here

SEC Signing Day- Here

NFL Draft Prospects to Watch in the 2016 New Era Pinstripe Bowl

The New Era Pinstripe Bowl pits the Northwestern Wildcats versus the Pittsburgh Panthers. This game will feature several NFL prospects, but they will mostly be watched when Pittsburgh has the ball and Northwestern is on defense. Here are the prospects to watch in this bowl game:

Northwestern Wildcats

Anthony Walker, LB

Projected Draft Range: second round-fourth round

Pinstripe Bowl

Anthony Walker (Photo courtesy: omaha.com)

Walker entered the season as one of the best linebackers in the country. He may have been passed on some big boards by some other linebackers, but Walker is still a great player. Walker had 120 total tackles last season and added 98 this season. His greatest strength is his speed, as he closes down on ball carriers quickly. He is also pretty good in coverage, which means he can play every down at the NFL level.

Pittsburgh Panthers

James Conner, RB

Projected Draft Range: fourth round-sixth round

If teams want a running back with power, Conner is their man. He has a tremendous stiff arm and runs through multiple arm tackles before being brought down. At six foot two and 235 pounds, Conner is a load for defenders to bring down. Toughness is his greatest quality on the field, as he takes blow after blow and continues to run hard. He has beaten cancer and a torn ACL, so toughness is something he carries off the field as well. He has added the ability to catch out of the backfield this season, which will only help his draft value.

Adam Bisnowaty, OT

Projected Draft Range: second round-fourth round

Pinstripe Bowl

Adam Bisnowaty (Photo courtesy: youtube.com)

Bisnowaty is a player that can shoot up draft boards before draft day. There aren’t many great tackles in this class, but teams love taking offensive linemen early in the draft. He has good size at six feet six inches and 305 pounds. His run blocking has been great for Conner, but there is a bit to be desired in pass blocking. He hasn’t been bad, but he hasn’t pass blocked as well as other top prospects.

Dorian Johnson, OG

Projected Draft Range: first round-third round

Johnson, like Bisnowaty, has great size at six feet five inches and 315 pounds. Also like Bisnowaty, Johnson has shown to be a good run blocker to help open up holes for Conner. He will need to show necessary mobility to pull on run plays and pick up pass rushers on pass plays, but he should have the strength to handle most players after he engages them. Johnson is one of the best guards in the class, but guards don’t usually get drafted as highly as tackles.

 

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