Safety isn’t sometimes a place that will get chosen early within the draft, however this yr there’s an opportunity that three safeties (Kyle Hamilton, Lewis Cine and Daxton Hill) may get drafted within the first spherical with Baylor security Jalen Pitre getting Day 1/2 buzz later within the draft course of.

The Athletic’s Bo Wulf checked out which rounds the most Pro Bowlers come from each position previously 10 drafts and located that in Round 4 or later, security produces the second-most Pro-Bowl gamers (28.5 %) — the second-highest share throughout that window to facilities (33.3). In this draft, there’s a pool of dynamic prospects with the athletic traits to play deep, which is turning into more and more essential because the league is trending towards extra two-deep coverages.

Here are my three favourite mid-round security prospects.

JT Woods, Baylor

JT Woods was a real deep security in Dave Aranda’s two-high scheme wherein he performed deep halves, rotated to play the outlet play in Cover 2, and matched or bracketed slot receivers in Cover 4. He’s so toolsy that I’m shocked he doesn’t get talked about extra however he could be being outshined by Pitre, who’s beginning to get some Round 1 buzz. 

-Woods needs to be out there within the third spherical or later. He’s tall and prolonged — at 6-2, he’s across the max peak you need for a deep security, in my view. Taller gamers sometimes don’t change instructions as effectively and if they will, they’re most likely taking part in large receiver. Woods has fluid hips and he’s explosive and rangy (4.3 40). He has good ball expertise (5 interceptions in 2021). He’s bodily and has no drawback making contact however he can do higher wrapping up as he bounced off of some tackles. In Aranda’s system, he needed to come off the roof, fill the alley and include runs from getting outdoors. He did an excellent job doing this, shortly studying run, taking good angles and shutting on ball carriers. 

He has the motion expertise and dimension to play man on tight ends and the size to contest the catch level. He was well-coached and performed in a sophisticated system.

Baylor vs. Ole Miss, 10:21 remaining within the fourth quarter, third-and-20

On third-and-20, the Baylor protection was in a disguised Cover 2. Pre-snap, Woods lined up deep on the hash like he was going to play a deep half earlier than sliding within the center to play the “hole”.

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The Ole Miss quarterback tried to look off Woods by staring on the seam to the sector after getting the snap. He hoped to carry Woods on that aspect so he may hit the bottom dig to the boundary.

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Woods didn’t chunk and made a fantastic break on the ball as quickly because the quarterback let the go go. Also, he took the right angle to undercut the dig.

Kerby Joseph, Illinois

Kerby Joseph is a late bloomer and he’s nonetheless simply 21 years outdated. He’s 6-1 and lengthy with 33-inch arms (ninetieth percentile). He had a superb vertical bounce — a check of explosion — of 39 inches (87th percentile). He didn’t run his 40 however exhibits legit vary on movie and has unfastened hips. He was moved to large receiver in his junior yr earlier than transferring again to free security. The ball expertise translate as he does a superb job of monitoring, excessive pointing the ball and ending (he had 5 interceptions his senior yr).

He’s not a very bodily tackler however he’s a reliable open-field tackler who does a superb job of sustaining leverage and shutting underneath management. Joseph primarily performed as a submit security however has the athleticism and ball expertise to maneuver across the protection. There are occasions when he’s only a beat gradual together with his reactions to the QB opening up for a throw however when he breaks, he’s making performs on the ball or getting shut. There might be questions as to why he broke out so late however he has the pace and smarts to turn into an affect participant.

Illinois at Iowa, 7:29 remaining within the fourth quarter, second-and-8

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Here, the Illinois protection was in Cover 1 (man-to-man with a deep security) with Joseph because the deep security towards Iowa’s two-back I-formation. Iowa had hitch-and-goes referred to as on either side to emphasize Joseph.

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After the snap, the quarterback tried to pump pretend to the hitch-and-go to his left to freeze Joseph and go to the appropriate. Joseph wasn’t fooled.

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Joseph stayed in the midst of the sector and broke to the throw with loads of time to intercept the go.

Nick Cross, Maryland

Nick Cross is an aggressive security with higher than common vary — he ran a 4.34 40 however that pace doesn’t present up on the movie so much. He makes extra performs coming from top-down however is inclined to play motion. He principally performs deep as a Cover 4 security or submit security in single-high coverages and was used continuously as a blitzer within the crimson zone.

He has the pace to play man-to-man protection however he wants to wash up his approach as a result of he tends to seize. He has the power and base to not get pushed round by tight ends on routes however is at a drawback due to his brief arms. He has higher than common ball expertise — he tracks the ball effectively and may excessive level the ball.

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Here, the Maryland protection was in a Cover 2 zone. Cross was lined up on the boundary and accountable for overlaying a deep zone. The tight finish to his aspect ran a nook route into Cross’ zone.

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As quickly because the tight finish took a step outdoors, Cross aggressively broke on the route. Cross ended up being proper on the play however he may have been somewhat extra affected person in case the tight finish ran a nook submit and broke inside.

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Cross made contact early — he wasn’t referred to as for a penalty on the play — earlier than the ball bought there and even wrapped up the tight finish.

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When the ball arrived, he made an acrobatic play and practically intercepted the go.

Cross is finest taking part in top-down and making single breaks to the ball with out having to vary instructions, however he has to work on being much less grabby and relying much less on contact when overlaying receivers. Cross has the athleticism to grow to be an above-average starter however his open-field tackling and over-aggression leaping routes are issues. Though he has good straight-line pace, you wish to see him change instructions higher for a defender who doesn’t have a lot size.

(Top photograph of JT Woods: Sean Gardner / Getty Images)

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