2014 NFL Draft: Top 10 Safety Big Board
1. HaHa Clinton-Dix FS Alabama
- HaHa retains the top spot in my rankings after standout junior season that saw him take command of the vaunted Alabama secondary. He is one of the better pass defenders in the country, showing off very good instincts and ball skills. HCD does need to clean up his run defense however as he tends to go for the home run hit instead of displaying proper tackling form.
2. Calvin Pryor FS Louisville
- Pryor made a significant push for the top spot but falls just short. He is the better of the two in run defense but pass defense skills fall off a bit when compared to HCD.
3. Jimmie Ward SS Northern Illinois
- Ward really came on during the early stages of the offseason draft process, showing out during the Senior Bowl. I would not be surprised if he goes early in the second round.
4. Deone Bucannon SS Washington State
- Another guy who stood out at the Senior Bowl by all accounts. Bucannon is a hard hitting impact safety that showed he is no slouch in pass defense. Certainly helped by the fact that he got to face Mike Leach's constant passing attack everyday in practice.
5. Dion Bailey FS USC
- Bailey might have some of the better instincts in this year's safety class due to his position versatility. He can and has played both safety spots and outside linebacker for the Trojans. I'm slotting him in as a free safety in this exercise. However, with all that versatility comes with the question of what he'll end up being in the pros.
6. Ahmad Dixon SS Baylor
- Dixon was a forceful centerfielder playmaker for the Baylor defense. He is a feared hitter but lacks in pass defense. Like Bailey, he has played some outside linebacker and made a move to safety. He certainly doesn't lack for confidence, either. Dixon could be better suited as a downhill in the box type of safety instead of being a free safety.
7. Ed Reynolds FS Stanford
- Reynolds is a classic head hunter safety who has some level of pass defense skills. He's a downhill defender that can step up and make the proper read and tackle. Like the many Cardinal standout defenders before him, he is very technically sound. Reynolds does have a tendency to have illegal hits, which won't fly in today's NFL. For teams trying to replicate Seattle's big secondary theory, Reynolds is a fit.
8. Hakeem Smith SS Louisville
- A very good defender in his own right despite being Pryor's teammate. Smith is a physical run defender ala Troy Polamalu while Pryor played the Ed Reed playmaker role.
9. Craig Loston SS LSU
- Loston was the veteran leader for the talented Tigers secondary. He's a hard hitter that has a limited skillset in pass defense. Loston possesses good instincts in run defense but needs to shore up his tackling form in order to avoid fines and suspensions in today's NFL,
10. Kenny Ladler FS Vanderbilt
- Ladler has experience playing both safety positions but is better suited to play strong safety given his tendencies. He's very intelligent and can diagnose plays rapidly. A big hitter but shows proper wrap up form on most occasions.