Editor's Note: These rankings were originally published before the combine. We will be updating our position rankings throughout draft season.
For the other defensive positions, the top prospect at each position is rather clear— Chase Young (edge rushers), Derrick Brown (interior DL), Isaiah Simmons (linebackers) and Jeffrey Okudah (cornerbacks).
The safety prospect— Alabama’s Xavier McKinney or LSU’s Grant Delpit—who will or should be selected first is less clear. While their styles of play and skill sets are different, both can make a strong case that they should be the first safety off the board.
Neither Delpit nor McKinney is likely to be selected in the top half of the first round, but both should be off the board on the draft's opening night. In addition, the next two safeties in my rankings can make a push to be selected by the end of Round 1 and the position offers decent depth overall.
With that said, here are my safety prospect rankings for the 2020 NFL draft:
1. Grant Delpit, LSU (JR, 6'3", 213 pounds)
Delpit looked like a top-10 pick after an outstanding 2018 season. Even though he won the Jim Thorpe award in 2019, it was a down season compared to what he put on tape as a sophomore. The biggest concern with Delpit is his inconsistency as a tackler, although he dealt with a high-ankle sprain for part of the year. When healthy, however, Delpit is a long and rangy playmaker on the back end that had eight interceptions and 24 passes defended in his three seasons in Baton Rouge.
2. Xavier McKinney, Alabama (JR, 6'0", 201 pounds)
Among the top two safeties on this list, Delpit may have a higher ceiling, but McKinney has a higher floor. An instinctive and versatile defender, McKinney has the skill set to play either safety spot and slot cornerback with no glaring weaknesses when it comes to coverage or run defense. A fluid mover with excellent range, the junior safety tied for the team lead in interceptions (three) in 2019.
3. Ashtyn Davis, Cal (rSR, 6'1", 202 pounds)
A former track star (won the Pac-12 110-meter hurdles), Davis has the dynamic athleticism that you'd expect from a track athlete. He has the speed and range to be a natural fit as a deep safety at the NFL level and has shown the ability to match up against tight ends. Davis has six interceptions over the past two seasons. Despite his track background, Davis is a willing tackler. Davis will turn 24 early (Oct. 10) in his rookie season.
4. Antoine Winfield Jr., Minnesota (rSO, 5'9", 203 pounds)
Even though he lacks ideal height and length and missed all but four games each in the 2017 and '18 seasons, there is plenty to like about Winfield Jr. An instinctual "student of the game" with an NFL pedigree, the Minnesota safety began studying film at an early age with his father and 14-year veteran cornerback Antoine Winfield. A sure tackler with outstanding ball skills, Winfield Jr. led the Golden Gophers in both tackles (88) and interceptions (seven) in 2019.
5. Jeremy Chinn, Southern Illinois (SR, 6'3", 221 pounds)
Among small-school safeties, Kyle Dugger may get a little more buzz, but both Chinn and Dugger should be off the board by the middle of Round 2. Built more like a linebacker than safety, Chinn is physical as a run defender, but he showed off his elite athleticism at the combine as well. Chinn ran a 4.46 40-yard dash with a 41" vertical jump at 221 pounds. The nephew of Hall-of-Fame safety Steve Atwater, Chinn had a minimum of three interceptions in all four seasons for the Salukis.
Here are the next 10 safeties:
6. Kyle Dugger, Lenoir-Rhyne (SR, 6'1", 217 pounds)
7. Terrell Burgess, Utah (SR, 5'11", 202 pounds)
8. Brandon Jones, Texas (SR, 5'11", 198 pounds)
9. Julian Blackmon, Utah (SR, 6'0", 187 pounds)
10. K'Von Wallace, Clemson (SR, 5'11", 206 pounds)
11. Alohi Gilman, Notre Dame (rJR, 5'11", 201 pounds)
12. J.R. Reed, Georgia (rSR, 6'1", 202 pounds)
13. Antoine Brooks Jr., Maryland (SR, 5'11", 220 pounds)
14. Myles Dorn, North Carolina (SR, 6'2", 205 pounds)
15. L'Jarius Sneed, Louisiana Tech (SR, 6'1", 192 pounds)
Kevin Hanson joins SI for the 2020 NFL Draft season. His NFL Mock Drafts have graded as the most accurate over the past five years, per The Huddle Report. His 2015 NFL mock draft graded as the most accurate and his 2019 NFL mock draft was the second-most accurate out of 101 draft analysts.
Question or comment? Email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.