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“But there are a lot of guys, who if you find the right one, maybe (Jaquiski) Tartt at Samford, if you look at (Eric) Rowe at Utah as a corner – I look at him as a safety as well,” Kiper said. “If you want a late-round pick like Dean Marlowe at James Madison, I think he’s interesting. It’s not a real good group. A (Derron) Smith from Fresno State if you want to take him in the third round. A (Damarious) Randall from Arizona State, second or third round, who’s more of a guy that can be your slot corner as well.”
Along with these players, there are some others in the draft who have the ability to play safety but might also be seen as playing another position. The first of these is Shaq Thompson from Washington. He has the ability to play linebacker, safety and running back.
He is a versatile player, which head coach Mike Zimmer likes, and he would fill in the need for a strong safety, even if he would prefer to play outside linebacker. Either way, he could help the Vikings’ run defense, which struggled last year.
Another player that may not be projected as a safety but could play the position is Auburn’s Nick Marshall. While at Auburn he played quarterback and is now going into the draft as a cornerback, but he could also transition into safety.
“To me, (Marshall)’s more of a safety than a corner, but you never know,” Kiper said. “Richard Sherman didn’t run a great 40 time and look what he’s done. So you develop him. He’s a competitor; he had his career as a defensive back when he was at Georgia. So to me third, fourth round. I could see Nick Marshall coming off the board as a developmental corner or safety. I think in this league right now you got a kid with that kind of competitiveness and desire, you take him in maybe the third to fifth, but I’d say more third to fourth.
“To me, when you look at a guy that can do as much as he can in terms of special teams, cornerback, safety combo guy – he ran a 4.54, he had a 37½ vertical, 10.4 broad (jump) – this is a kid who’s got a lot of talent and at 6-1½, 207 pounds. It’s the kind of kid you develop. And you know you’re going to need some time with him; he’s not going to come in right away, but he can play special teams and you work with him.”
With this year being such a thin group at the safety position, it might be in the Vikings’ best interest to address the need either in free agency or early in the draft.