Top 10 Safeties in the NFL Draft
Having drawn comparisons to Ed Reed, Troy Polamalu and Brian Dawkins, it comes as no surprise that Berry is a projected top-10 pick. Tennessee's stud safety had 12 interceptions in his first two years as a Volunteer, and was a unanimous All-American selection in 2009 after adding two more. Berry is by far the best defensive back in this year's class and he backed up the hype surrounding his physical skills in the months leading up to the draft.
After redshirting in 2007, Thomas put together two impressive seasons at safety for the Longhorns, including a sophomore season that included 8 interceptions. Thomas is a ballhawk and has great natural instincts on the field. His tackling, agility and intensity make him a lock for a first-round pick, with the added bonus of above average smarts.
Simply put, Taylor Mays is a freak. He is big, lightning fast, and a devastating big hitter. At USC, Mays didn't put up gaudy numbers, but he essentially played centerfield for the Trojans, limiting his opportunity to make plays on the ball. Despite concerns about his open-field tackling and ability to cover in the NFL, Mays' rare athleticism assures him a spot in the first round.
Though he did not play his college ball at a traditional powerhouse school, Allen has all the physical tools to be a great NFL safety. Scouts love his instincts in coverage (10 interceptions over the past three seasons) and his willingness to attack the line of scrimmage in run support. Look for Allen to wind up going in the second or third round.
Ward battled injuries through his career at Oregon, but his physicality and toughness are enough to be a productive NFL safety. And while he lacks the eye-popping size or athleticism of other top safeties in this year's draft, he is a reliable open-field tackler and is every bit the intimidator for receivers who dare go over the middle.
Overshadowed in the SEC by the rising star of Eric Berry, Georgia's Jones put together a three-year career that included 11 interceptions, 194 tackles and enough big hits to put together an impressive highlight reel. But Jones' hulking frame is better suited for run support than coverage, and his lack of consistent effort has raised questions among pro scouts.
Coleman had a productive career at Ohio State, starting the last three years and registering 5 interceptions and 3 forced fumbles in 2009 while quarterbacking the Buckeye defense. And though Coleman is intense and athletic, his lack of prototypical size worries scouts, some of whom go so far as to say he may be a better fit at corner in the pros.
Jones was drafted by the Houston Astros out of high school, but elected to go to LSU and play both baseball and football. Now, a year removed from being an integral part of the Tigers' College World Series title run, Jones is hoping to get drafted for the second time, and this time as a big-hitting safety in the NFL. Jones is still raw, but his intensity and aptitude to adjust to whatever scheme he ends up in makes him an attractive mid-round selection.
Burnett followed up a breakout sophomore season (93 tackles, 7 interceptions) with an impressive junior season (4 INT) before opting to leave for the pro ranks. Burnett relies on instinct and throws his large frame around the field. But he can be reckless at times, and needs to work on his form tackling.
Aside from having perhaps the coolest name in the draft, Major Wright is a hard-hitting prospect from a top-flight college program who should be able to step in as a rookie and help an NFL team on special teams and as a defensive backup. Wright can lay the lumber on unsuspecting receivers, but needs to improve his coverage skills and open-field tackling.