1. Jimmie Ward 5’11” 193 Northern Illinois
2. Deone Bucannon 6’1” 211 Washington State
3. Craig Loston 5’11” 217 LSU
4. Dion Bailey 6’0” 201 USC
5. Isaiah Lewis 5’10” 211 Michigan State
6. Jonathan Dowling 6’3” 190 Western Kentucky
7. Sean Parker 5’10” 193 Washington
8. Vinnie Sunseri 5’11” 210 Alabama
9. Tre Boston 6’0” 204 North Carolina
10. Mo Alexander 6’1” 220 Utah State
11. Nat Berhe 5’10” 193 San Diego State
12. Ahmad Dixon 6’0” 212 Baylor
13. Stephen Obeng-Agyapong 5’10” 209 Penn State
The third-team All-American has had scouts raving about him all offseason. The game tape doesn’t disappoint either. Ward displays good range, he tackles well, and is a decent defender in man or zone coverage. He also displays good instincts and play recognition. His versatility is what makes him the most valuable strong safety in the class. If there is any knock on his game, it’s his size and strength. He only repped 225 nine times at the combine on the bench press, and weighed in at 193 pounds. If he can add a few pounds, without sacrificing any speed and quickness it would be a tremendous help to his game at the next level.
Buccanon is a guy who doesn’t really drop your jaw on film, but he does show some playmaking ability and that he may be the best cover strong safety in the draft. He has good size for the position, and displayed good speed and strength at the combine, with the fastest 40 time and the highest bench press of any of the strong safeties. One thing he will need to improve on as he transitions to the NFL is open-field tackling.
I was extremely impressed with Bailey on film. He is big and plays solid man-to-man coverage for a safety. He has good ball skills and is a decent, but not great, tackler in space. He has the coverage ability and the size to play nickelback or strong safety in the NFL. He doesn’t wow you with straight-line speed, but he does display good quickness, which allows him to break on receivers’ routes better than most.
Dixon was the player that I was most disappointed with on film. He is a good tackler with good size, but he doesn’t shed blocks very well. He also doesn’t exhibit the play recognition that you would hope to see from safeties preparing to enter the NFL draft. He will almost exclusively have to play as an underneath zone safety in a Cover 3 scheme and play closer to the line of scrimmage.