The 2021 NFL Draft is over and teams are getting comfortable with their new draft picks. The next class of players is getting prepared now for another year of college football. Each position will be analyzed in the coming days. Here is the 2022 NFL Draft prospect watchlist: Safeties.
Jordan Battle, Alabama Crimson Tide
Battle was a top recruit out of Florida who signed to play with Alabama. He started four games as a freshman and received good playing time. As a freshman, Battle had 30 total tackles, one interception and one pass defended. He was a full-time starter as a sophmore and helped the team win the National Championship. Battle registered 66 tackles, one interception and four passes defended for the season.
At 6-foot-1 and 210 pounds, Battle has good size for a safety. He has shown to be able to play in the box and to hit hard. Battle is a good athlete for a safety of his size. For the 2021 season, he’ll need to keep his helmet up to keep from being ejected and make more plays on the ball, as he has just two interceptions and five passes defended in two years. If his anticipation and awareness can improve, he can make more plays as a deep safety and improve his stock.
Bubba Bolden, Miami Hurricanes
Out of high school, Bolden was one of the best players in the country. After starting his career at USC, Bolden transfered to Miami. He had 11 total tackles, but his season was shortened by injury. Bolden took over as a starter in 2020 and produced. He amassed 74 total tackles, one interception and three passes defended.
He has solid size at 6-foot-3 and 200 pounds. Bolden is a solid athlete who has good anticipation and recognition. He has solid closing burst and can lay down big hits. Bolden needs to get more reps this year after only starting for one full season. He also doesn’t have top-end speed, but has shown versatility to play deep or in the box. Bolden’s 2021 season could catapult him into being picked within the first two rounds.
Kyle Hamilton, Notre Dame Fighting Irish
Although he wasn’t a top 100 recruit by many recruiting services, Hamilton was able to play for Notre Dame early in his career. He was a Freshman All-American with 41 total tackles, four intercetions and six passes defended. Hamilton’s play enabled him to be an All-American as a sophomore with 63 total tackles, one interception and six passes defended. His play on defense helped the Fighting Irish reach the College Football Playoff.
Hamilton stands at 6-foot-4 and 219 pounds, which is tremendous size for a safety. He has the athleticism and size to match up with tight ends in man coverage, but he also can play single-high deep zones and underneath zones because of his length. He is a good hitter as well. With great range and closing burst, there won’t be too many weaknesses to Hamilton’s game when he comes out. He will need to react quicker to running plays and take better angles to the football at times, but he is the consensus favorite to be the first safety picked in the 2022 NFL Draft.
Brandon Joseph, Northwestern Wildcats
As a three-star prospect out of high school, Jospeh has outplayed his rank immensely. He played in four games in 2019, but redshirted. Joseph took the college football world by storm as a redshirt freshman. He finished the season with six interceptions and two passes defended in just eight games. His ability to force turnovers helped Northwestern reach the Big Ten Championship Game.
Whether he is a corner or safety at the next level is up for debate, but he is currently listed as a safety on Northwestern’s depth chart. For either position, he has great size at 6-foot-1 and 192 pounds. He has displayed great ball skills and plays downhill as a safety. After one year as a starting safety, Joseph needs to prove he can hold up over a full season in 2021, but he has the potential to be selected in the first few rounds of the 2022 NFL Draft.
Other Draft Prospects
Marcelino Ball, Indiana Hoosiers- Ball will be one of the older players in all of college football and he didn’t play in 2020. For 2021, he needs to show he is over his injury and that he is still capable of making impact plays.
Greg Eisworth, Iowa State Cyclones- Iowa State is prepping for a big season and Eisworth will be a huge factor in that by manning the back of the defense. He is a tackling machine for the Cyclones.
Jalen Pitre, Baylor Bears- Pitre is a former linebacker turned safety. He produced in his lone season as a starting safety with two pick sixes.
Trey Sterling, Oklahoma State Cowboys- At the backend of the Cowboys’ defense, Sterling has had to make plenty of tackles. Now, he will be asked to make more impact plays on a consistent basis.
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