The New Orleans Saints had one of the NFL's best defensive backfields in 2020. Led by CB Marshon Lattimore and safety Marcus Williams, both 2017 draftees, along with 2019 draft selection Chauncey Gardner-Johnson, the Saints allowed only 217 yards per game through the air and intercepted a league-high 18 passes.
The New Orleans secondary struggled early in the 2020 season, giving up big plays and committing penalties at an alarming rate. That was especially true at the safety position, where Williams and twelve-year veteran Malcolm Jenkins were responsible for several coverage and communication breakdowns. Both players improved by mid-season, helping the Saints elevate to one of the league's best defenses.
Williams was given the franchise tag this offseason. It was a surprise move, but one that prevented the team from having a big need to fill. However, Williams has not yet signed a long-term deal, so could be a free agent after the year. Jenkins was a liability in coverage at times, and the Saints like to use Gardner-Johnson around their formation to showcase his versatility.
There is some depth at the safety position in this year's draft, but only one prospect is consistently projected to be selected in the first round. Despite other needs, would the Saints use a 1st round choice to add a safety? Today's draft spotlight profiles the consensus top safety in this year's class.
TREVON MOEHRIG, SAFETY (TCU)
Pro Day 40m = 4.5
A four-star recruit out of Smithson Valley High School in Texas, Moehrig stayed in-state by choosing Texas Christian University. Despite being recruited as a cornerback, he was moved to safety as a true freshman. He started just two games in that 2018 season, recording an interception and breaking up a pass, but was voted the team's Special Teams Player of the Year.
Moehrig would establish himself as one of the top defensive backs in the country in 2019. He intercepted 4 passes, broke up 11 others, forced 2 fumbles, and recording 62 tackles while earning 1st team All-Big 12 recognition.
He was even better in 2020, again being honored with All-Big 12 accolades. He also added 2nd team All-American honors and won the Jim Thorpe Award as the nation's top defensive back. Moehrig earned these accolades because of two interceptions, 9 passes broken up, and 47 tackles with 2 for loss.
Coming to TCU as a cornerback, Moehrig still displays some inexperienced traits at safety. He’s had issues with play diagnosis when lining up close to the line of scrimmage and can be caught out of position by misdirection. Moehrig must improve his pursuit angles as a tackler in the open field, especially as a deep safety.
A back injury limited him during his Pro Day, slowing down his 40 times and affecting his other workouts. Moehrig still lacks the deep speed to stay with some of the NFL's faster receivers in man coverage. His aggressive nature can also leave him vulnerable to play-action fakes and double moves.
Moehrig has good size for the safety position and better athleticism than his Pro Day displayed. He’s become more confident in his instincts with experience and has outstanding range in deep coverage. His recovery speed is adequate, and he’s consistently put himself in a position to make plays with improved anticipation.
Possessing the coverage skills of a cornerback, Moehrig can take on most wideouts in slot duties. He tracks the ball extremely well in mid-air both in man coverage or off the ball. Moehrig has a smooth backpedal, agile change of direction, and good burst out of his stance.
Moehrig has the strength to mix it up in traffic close to the line of scrimmage as a run defender and will not be out-muscled by receivers. He’s capable of playing either safety spot in any defensive scheme as well as handling man coverage in sub-packages.
TCU puts a lot of responsibilities on the safety position in their defensive scheme. Trevon Moehrig responded well to that pressure for the Horned Frogs. He greatly improved his coverage awareness in 2019 and 2020, developing into a consistent playmaker. His best fit at the NFL level will be as a deep safety, but his ability to step up and effectively cover wideouts adds a versatile element to his skill set.