The 2022 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 2023 NFL Draft prospect watchlist: Safeties.
Jordan Battle, Alabama Crimson Tide
Battle is one of the more experienced safeties in the class. He started four games as a freshman, tallying 30 tackles, one interception and one pass defended. As a sophomore he had 66 tackles, one interception and four passes defended. After winning a National Championship in his sophomore season, Battle helped the team reach the College Football Playoff in 2021 with 85 total tackles, three interceptions and three passes defended.
He has solid size for a safety at 6-foot-1 and 200 pounds. Battle doesn’t mind coming down into the box and laying hits down on ball carriers. His run defense is solid. He is decent in coverage, but his range as a deep safety will come into question before the 2023 NFL Draft.
Jalen Catalon, Arkansas Razorbacks
Catalon could’ve entered the 2022 NFL Draft, but instead elected to return to school. He redshirted his first year on campus, then stepped into the starting lineup in 2020. Catalon registered 99 tackles, three interceptions and four passes defended. In 2021, his play impacted Arkansas greatly, as he had 46 total tackles, two interceptions and four passes defended in six games played. The Razorbacks won nine games in 2021.
While he isn’t the tallest at 5-foot-10, Catalon does have a well-built-out frame at 199 pounds. In 2022, he’ll have to stay healthy, as a shoulder injury cut his 2021 season short. He has good closing speed and can lay down some big hits. He could wrap up better on routine tackles, but Catalon was trusted in single-high coverage a lot, which says a lot about his range. His versatility to play multiple coverages and against the run could help him be an early selection in the 2023 NFL Draft.
Brandon Joseph, Notre Dame Fighting Irish
Joseph is making the jump from Northwestern to Notre Dame this season, following in the steps of legendary coach Ara Parseghian. He redshirted his freshman season, but then made a huge impact in 2020 with 46 total tackles, six interceptions and two passes defended. Northwestern made the Big Ten Championship that season. Even though the team struggled in 2021, Joseph was a bright spot with 79 total tackles, three interceptions and four passes defended.
He’ll need to add strength, but he has a good frame at 6-foot-1 and 192 pounds. Over his college career, Joseph has shown great ball skills. He has a high football IQ and anticipation, which usually puts him in good position. His coverage abilities will have NFL teams high on him, but he’ll need to show he can make a bigger impact in the box by being more consistent with his tackling.
Tykee Smith, Georgia Bulldogs
Smith started his career at West Virginia before transferring over to the Bulldogs. In his two seasons with the Mountaineers, Smith made 111 tackles, four interceptions and nine passes defended. He joined the 2021 National Champions, but was only able to play in one game due to an injury.
Staying on the field will be important for Smith in 2022. He is just 5-foot-10, but weighs a solid 198 pounds. Smith is not afraid of coming down into the box and tackling. His versatility is also an asset as he can cover all over. Showing off his range as a single-high safety would greatly improve his stock.
Demani Richardson, Texas A&M Aggies
Richardson has started since 2019 for the Aggies. He had 71 tackles, one interception and two passes defended that season. In 2020, he registered 36 total tackles, one interception and one pass defended. His play helped the Aggies win eight games in 2021 with 65 total tackles and three passes defended.
At 6-foot-1 and 210 pounds, Richardson has great size for a safety. He can lay down some big hits and is no stranger to making plays in the box. His ability to read underneath routes and then go make tackles with closing speed is great. He’ll need to show better man coverage skills in 2022 to move up draft boards.
Other Draft Prospects
Trey Dean, Florida- Dean is huge for a safety and even showed improved ball production in 2021. He has plenty of experience and could move himself up safety rankings if he plays well due to his size.
Kenderick Duncan, Louisville- Duncan started his career at Georgia Southern, but showed he could play against better competition at Louisville last season. He is all over the field making plays, but could be a candidate to move to linebacker because he is 6-foot-3 and 225 pounds.
DeMarcco Hellams, Alabama- Hellams has made more of an impact each year he has suited up for the Crimson Tide. He has solid size and showed ball skills in 2021 with three interceptions.
Rashad Torrence, Florida- Torrence will join Dean in Florida’s secondary as the player with more range. He isn’t shy about making tackles either, as he had 87 last season.
Beejay Williamson, Louisiana Tech- Williamson may play at a smaller school, but he has stood out. He has three interceptions in each of the last two seasons, showing off his ball skills.
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