DraftWatch: Safeties

In Wednesday’s Team Wrap-ups, we mentioned the safety position as one of the top needs for both Minnesota and Chicago. Detroit could use some help there as well, so let’s examine the early rankings of safeties heading into the 2010 draft.

I moseyed on over to ESPN’s 2010 draft page and found a couple of interesting sources of information.

Scouts Inc. lists three safeties among its top 25 players, starting with Tennessee’s Eric Berry at No. 1 overall. Texas’ Earl Thomas is its 12th-best prospect and Southern California’s Taylor Mays is No. 18. Thomas, who will play Thursday night in the BCS Championship Game, is a junior who hasn’t yet declared for the draft.

(On his updated Big Board, ESPN’s Mel Kiper ranks Berry as his No. 3 prospect and Mays at No. 19.)

Would Detroit take Berry with the No. 2 overall pick? No one knows the answer to that question yet. But in general, safeties are more likely to be taken where the Lions got Louis Delmas last season -- at the top of the second round.

Unless they make a trade, the Bears, won’t pick until about 10 picks into the third round. So we’re going to take it deep in this edition of DraftWatch.

According to Kevin Weidl of Scouts Inc., the safety position could be one of the strongest positions in the this draft. Weidl suggests that Thomas would join Berry as a top-15 pick, if he declares, but is dubious of Mays as a potential elite player.

On Mays, Weidl wrote: “…[D]on't be mesmerized by his measurables. We have seen multiple coverage breakdowns from Mays in every game we have studied, including mistakes against Ohio State, California and Boston College that led directly to red zone trips and/or touchdowns for the offense.”

As it stands now, the second tier of safeties includes LSU junior Chad Jones and Clemson junior DeAndre McDaniel, both of whom Scouts Inc. rates as second-round prospects. Want a sleeper? Weidl notes that South Florida senior Nate Allen “is perhaps the most fluid safety in the nation in pass coverage.” Allen might be good enough to try playing cornerback, but in general college safeties aren’t good cornerback prospects in the NFL.

How about that? A draft sleeper in the first full week of January. Every day is a draft day, baby!