Last season, NFL defenses noticed a major soar in two-high or two-deep security protection utilization to restrict the general elevated effectivity in passing, elevating the demand for groups to have multiple versatile security. Gone are the times when groups can get away with having a free security who can play deep and a robust security who focuses on run assist and might be hidden away taking part in beneath zones. Both safeties will need to have a wide range of abilities. 

Vic Fangio’s system has permeated all through the league. Brandon Staley is essentially the most profitable coach from his tree and his quick rise within the league has additionally added to the system’s reputation. In Fangio’s playbook, each safeties are designated as “$”. There isn’t any separate designation without spending a dime security and robust security.

The traditional sturdy security is changing into more and more archaic, and a few have resorted to shifting to linebacker. In this new world, each safeties have to have the ability to play deep, rotate within the field and maintain up in man protection. With the rule modifications made for participant security, the power to dish out huge hits is now not fascinating or efficient. Teams want two athletes who can play in area for these two-high coverages to work.

Kyle Hamilton, Daxton Hill and Lewis Cine are the top three safeties in this draft class. All three match the fashionable mould and may give groups kings on the chessboard and open up the playbook for his or her future defensive coordinators. Though they provide versatile ability units, they’ve completely different physique varieties and differ of their strengths and weaknesses. Hamilton is the consensus prime security, however I’ve all three graded extra carefully than most.

Kyle Hamilton, Notre Dame

Hamilton shall be one of many tallest and lengthiest safeties within the NFL at 6-4 with 33-inch arms. What makes him distinctive for a prolonged athlete is that he’s free and might easily change instructions. His mix and professional day 40 instances had been surprisingly gradual — reportedly, scouts had him timed within the low 4.7s. However, The Athletic’s Bruce Fieldman reported that his top-end GPS pace improved to 21 mph in 2020. His vary does present up on the sector as he’s made some implausible closing performs.

At Florida State, 6:00 remaining in third quarter, fourth-and-2

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Hamilton lined up near the second stage, taking part in man-to-man protection on the operating again.

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The offense ran a boot play with the operating again going throughout the formation in hopes of making a rub on Hamilton to free him. However, as a result of Hamilton performed barely behind the second stage, he had a free path to the operating again.

Hamilton was in a position to shut the gap from throughout the sector, tip the ball and drive an interception.

Hamilton is a jack-of-all-trades who can perform a little little bit of every part. He can play top-down and wrap up tackles from the second stage, might be disruptive in beneath zones along with his size and has the power to play some man protection. However, his pure man protection capacity is a bit overstated. He might be gradual along with his ft and response and get overwhelmed. His size lined up his poor man-to-man method in school, however I wouldn’t wish to see him play press on NFL receivers.

When he’s taking part in as a middle-of-the-field security, he may get his eyes within the fallacious place and let receivers get behind him. I consider his greatest match is in a two-high system. In Cover 2, he’ll simply have the ability to cowl a half subject with extra outlined reads and fill the alley with authority. In Cover 4, he’ll be efficient matching routes from deep with beneath assist so he gained’t be requested to run step-to-step on sharp cuts beneath. Additionally, he can rotate right down to the field and play beneath zones.

Daxton Hill, Michigan

Hill is undersized at 6-feet, 190 kilos. However, he performs with an perspective of a pit bull and isn’t afraid to run into offensive tackles at full pace to get via blocks in run assist. Admittedly, I may need a smooth spot in my coronary heart for these kinds of gamers. At Michigan, he performed quite a bit within the slot but in addition lined up as a deep security. Where Hill separates himself is his elite man-to-man capacity and shutting pace. It’s notable that Michigan had no hesitation lining him up in man protection towards a few of school soccer’s greatest slot receivers. Even in man protection, he’s bodily and desires to dominate receivers on the line of scrimmage with aggressive jams.

At Penn State, 10:50 remaining within the first quarter, third-and-4

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Against Penn State, Hill was recurrently matched up on Jahan Dotson, who could possibly be a first- or second-round decide on this yr’s draft. On this play, he was lined up in off protection towards Penn State’s stacked alignment to keep away from being picked.

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Dotson launched inside and vertical, however Hill maintained his outdoors leverage as a result of he had assist inside.

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Dotson tried to shake him on the prime of the route, however Hill didn’t overreact and easily flipped his hips to remain on prime of Dotson.

His recreation towards Dotson was one among his most spectacular performances of the season and confirmed he may not less than be a high-level nickelback if he can’t carry out at security. Hill can get overaggressive in man protection when he tries to jam too laborious on the line of scrimmage or chew on double strikes, however he has the motion abilities and burst to be very efficient towards shifty slot receivers.

One of the explanations he isn’t mechanically slotted as a nickel and might play security at his measurement is his burst and first step. When he’s taking part in deep security or in an beneath zone, his closing pace pops on tape.

At Penn State, 1:52 remaining within the first quarter, first-and-10

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Here, he’s lined up within the nickel in Cover 4. His job is to match the slot with outdoors leverage.

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As the slot broke inside, he shuffled inside with him however maintained his outdoors leverage and saved his eyes on the quarterback. The quarterback made the right learn by trying to the surface slant as quickly as he noticed Hill shuffle inside.

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The quarterback didn’t take a false step and made a rapid determination, however Hill was in a position to burst out of his stance and dove towards the move and practically intercepted the move on the surface slant.

Hill’s click-and-close capacity is harking back to the Arizona Cardinals’ Budda Baker, who’s extra undersized than Hill. He can knife into the backfield in a rush and make tackles behind the road of scrimmage, chasing down performs from the weak facet. He’s an efficient blitzer due to his sheer explosion from a two-point stance and might maintain his disguise till the final second. In the proper system, Hill generally is a true joker due to his capacity to play man-to-man, burst and tenacity.

His measurement will push him to get drafted late within the first spherical or within the second spherical. Baker fell to the second due to measurement. I’m not saying Hill shall be pretty much as good as Baker, however they share loads of the identical qualities that allowed Baker to excel regardless of being one of many smallest safeties within the league.

Lewis Cine, Georgia

Cine is tall (6-2), prolonged, has elite athleticism, however is on the skinnier facet. He ran a 4.37 40 with a 1.51 10-yard cut up and broad jumped 133 inches (96th percentile), which is a measure of explosion. His vary reveals up on tape and he routinely takes nice angles to the ball — one of the crucial vital abilities for a deep security — and though he’s gentle, he’ll meet the ball service with as a lot drive as he can generate out of his 199-pound body.

Versus Alabama (SEC Championship Game), 13:03 remaining within the first quarter, second-and-10

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On this play, Cine (16) was chargeable for taking part in the B-gap from a deep alignment.

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He learn his keys, shortly recognized run and acquired his eyes on the operating again. He saved his shoulders squared to the road of scrimmage and shortly got here off the roof to play his hole.

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Alabama operating again Brian Robinson Jr. outweighed Cine by greater than 25 kilos, however Cine stopped all of his momentum and held Robinson to a brief acquire though Robinson seemed to have a pleasant gap. Cine’s tape is plagued by him taking nice angles and throwing his physique into tackles. Because of his weight, he’s prone to getting run over at instances, however he’s fearless. He’ll must discover ways to lower sort out extra within the league.

Unlike Hamilton and Hill, Cine isn’t practically pretty much as good in man protection. He doesn’t play with nice stability and doesn’t present nice route recognition when he’s in man.

Versus Alabama (SEC Championship Game), 6:28 remaining within the fourth quarter, third-and-5

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On a crucial third-and-5, Georgia was in man protection towards Alabama’s bunch. The Bulldogs had a “lock-and-levels” name, which means every defender was locked onto a person however performed on completely different depths to keep away from getting picked. Cine had the purpose (man on the road of scrimmage in a bunch).

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The level ran a vertical stem and shook Cine on the prime of the step with a little bit faux to the surface earlier than breaking flat inside.

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Cine bit laborious on the faux and the receiver had about 4 steps of separation earlier than the catch and room to run after the catch.

Though Cine isn’t as versatile as Hamilton and Hill, he has the power to be a top-notch deep security and that’s a beneficial ability in in the present day’s league. He can be glorious in a system that makes use of loads of Cover 2.

In the previous three drafts, solely three safeties have been chosen within the first spherical, and a type of safeties (Isaiah Simmons) was drafted with the intention of taking part in at linebacker. This yr, there’s an opportunity that three safeties get drafted within the first due to the rising worth within the place and the intriguing ability units of Hamilton, Hill and Cine.

(Top picture of Dax Hill: Steven Branscombe / Getty Images)

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