Luke Easterling's 2016 NFL Draft safety rankings

Luke Easterling's full safety rankings for the 2016 NFL Draft.


1. Jalen Ramsey | Florida State | 6'1" | 209 | Junior | 1st Round

Ramsey will say he's a corner, and I don't blame him ($$$), but he's best suited where he can roam around in space and make plays all over the field. His rare blend of instincts and athleticism could make him one of the best defensive backs in the entire NFL, and he should be in the conversation for the top overall pick.

2. Karl Joseph | West Virginia | 5'10" | 205 | Senior | 2nd Round

If not for a knee injury that cost him most of his senior season, Joseph would likely be a consensus first-round prospect. Though undersized, he's a wrecking ball with some similarities to former Indianapolis Colt Bob Sanders, with a violent mentality that makes receivers fear going anywhere near him. If he gets back to full health, he'll be a steal anywhere outside the first round.

3. Darian Thompson | Boise State | 6'2" | 208 | RS Senior | 2nd Round

His lackluster performance at the combine caused some in the media to drastically drop Thompson in their rankings, but I think it's a huge overreaction. Regardless of what the stopwatches said in Indy, Thompson's film shows a balanced player with plenty of range in coverage and the physicality to be effective in run support. He was one of the most impressive defenders at this year's Senior Bowl.

4. Keanu Neal | Florida | 6'0" | 211 | Junior | 2nd Round

I was latecomer to the Neal hype train, but once I dove into his tape, I found one of the most physical safeties in the entire draft who loves to lay the hammer in coverage and down in the box. He's still got some rough edges to smooth out, Neal should excel as a run defender and big hitter while refining his coverage skills and developing into a quality starter.

5. Vonn Bell | Ohio State | 5'11" | 199 | Junior | 2nd Round

The Buckeyes defense was stacked with playmakers, but Bell made his own mark on plenty of occasions over his career in Columbus. He wins in coverage with instincts and smarts more than pure athleticism, but he knows how to maximize his strengths against both the run and pass. He's one of the better prospects in this group when it comes to man coverage, which will help him against pass-catching tight ends at the next level.

6. Jeremy Cash | Duke | 6'0" | 212 | RS Senior | 2nd Round

Hybrid linebacker/safety types are all the rage in the NFL now (thanks, Deone Bucannon), while USC's Su'a Cravens is more on the linebacker side of that comparison, Cash fits the bill on the other side of the coin. He knows how to put himself in just the right place to make a play, and can line up in several different spots. A creative defensive coordinator could turn him into a star.

7. Kevin Byard | Middle Tennessee State | 5'11" | 216 | RS Senior | 3rd Round

I've been banging this drum for months, and I'm not stopping anytime soon. Byard was one of this year's most egregious combine snubs, which he proved with a fantastic pro day performance. He's got a ready-made NFL frame, a balanced skill set and plenty of production (school-record 19 career picks, played his best against top competition). Projected by most as a mid-round pick, Byard's worthy of a Day 2 selection.

8. Jalen Mills | LSU | 6'0" | 191 | Senior | 3rd Round

If versatility is your thing, look no further than Mills, who has the potential to develop into a solid starter at either safety or corner in the NFL. He can get the job done in man coverage, but is still comfortable in zone, can play centerfield and isn't afraid to mix it up in the box. LSU has produced some impressive defensive backs in recent years, and Mills should be the next in line.

9. Miles Killebrew | Southern Utah | 6'2" | 217 | Senior | 3rd Round

Killebrew looks like a chiseled piece of stone, but as a prospect, he's a giant chunk of marble with tons of potential. He's still extremely raw, but has the size and work ethic NFL coaches will want to mold. His film is spotty, but I was impressed with his attention to detail and willingness to help in any way possible while watching him at the Senior Bowl.

10. Justin Simmons | Boston College | 6'2" | 202 | Senior | 3rd Round

Another underrated prospect with tons of potential, Simmons was miscast as a corner but showed plenty of promise on the back end. His film showed a knack for finding the ball and getting his hands in on multiple turnovers, and his performance at this year's East-West Shrine Game turned a few heads. He's got the frame to add some useful bulk at the next level, and he could end up being one of multiple Day 3 steals at the position.

11. KJ Dillon | West Virginia | 6'0" | 210 | Senior | 3rd Round

12. Sean Davis | Maryland | 6'1" | 201 | Senior | 4th Round

13. T.J. Green | Clemson | 6'2" | 209 | Junior | 4th Round

14. DeAndre Houston-Carson | William & Mary | 6'1" | 201 | RS Senior | 4th Round

15. Tyvis Powell | Ohio State | 6'3" | 211 | RS Junior | 5th Round

16. Jayron Kearse | Clemson | 6'4" | 216 | Junior | 5th Round

17. Jordan Lucas | Penn State | 6'0" | 201 | Senior | 5th Round

18. Trae Elston | Mississippi | 5'11" | 195 | Senior | 6th Round

19. Deon Bush | Miami (FL) | 6'0" | 199 | Senior | 6th Round

20. Kavon Frazier | Central Michigan | 6'0" | 217 | Senior | 6th Round

21. Clayton Fejedelem | Illinois | 6'0" | 204 | Senior | 7th Round

22. Jordan Lomax | Iowa | 5'10" | 202 | RS Senior | 7th Round

23. Doug Middleton | Appalachian State | 6'0" | 209 | RS Senior | 7th Round

24. Derrick Kindred | TCU | 5'10" | 207 | Senior | 7th Round

25. Jamie Byrd | USF | 5'11" | 189 | Senior | 7th Round


Tampa Bay's depth chart at safety is full of reserves, but there isn't a single top-level starter in the group. Chris Conte had a solid season in 2015, but will have to prove he can repeat that effort and stay healthy. Bradley McDougald is promising, but will have to prove his regression last season was scheme-related. Keith Tandy is a versatile, feisty defender who is one of the better backups in the league and contributes on special teams, but needs to remain in that role. Major Wright is a Lovie Smith holdover who has been banged up. This group needs an infusion of young talent, and it needs to come sooner than later in the draft.

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