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Wednesday, April 25, 2012

2012 NFL Draft: Top Five Free and Strong Safeties

Even more than the cornerback class, the safeties this year, whether free or strong, are very disappointing. Outside of Mark Barron from Alabama, I certainly wouldn't put a second round grade on any of them, and I might not even place one in the third round. It wouldn't surprise me at all if Barron went in the first 10 picks of the draft and we didn't hear another go off the board until Saturday morning.

OK, enough of the negative...at least for now. Mark Barron is a "do-it-all" safety who can play in the box, cover in zone or man-to-man against tight ends and some slot receivers. He has great ball skills and a slightly below elite level burst to the football. He is an aggressive run defender who arrives at the ball carrier with an attitude. Many general managers wouldn't think of selecting a safety with a top ten pick, but I would beg them to reconsider when it comes to Barron.

Here are the rest of the strong safety rankings:

Rank Name School Height Weight
1 Mark Barron Alabama 6010 213
2 Harrison Smith Notre Dame 6017 213
3 George Iloka Boise St. 6035 225
4 Brandon Taylor LSU 5112 209
5 Antonio Allen South Carolina 6014 210

I'm sure some of you noticed that I have George Iloka listed with the strong safeties, and it's for a good reason...he will be an absolute liability in coverage. He is simply way too tight withe extremely poor change of direction, backpedal, and lateral movement skills. As a matter of fact, I wouldn't be surprised if his new team bulked him up and moved him to linebacker.

As for the free safeties, they're an even more nondescript group. Markelle Martin is the best of the lot, and he'll probably be relegated to special teams duty unless injuries are involved. He plays way too high and stiff, so his movement skills are an issue. Then, on top of all that, he's very aggressive and finds himself often out of position. If you're a team in need of a free safety, this is not your year.

Here are the free safety rankings:

Rank Name School Height Weight
1 Markelle Martin Oklahoma St. 6010 207
2 Trumaine Johnson Montana 6017 204
3 Trent Robinson Michigan St. 5096 195
4 Brandon Hardin Oregon St. 6025 222
5 Aaron Henry Wisconsin 5116 208

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