Which safeties will matter in the 2021 NFL Draft, and what’s the college perspective on all of the top prospects?


2021 NFL Draft Safety Rankings

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It’s a rough NFL Draft year for several positions, but safety is sneaky-good. There might not be any sure-thing, must-have superstars, but it’s a deep class of value picks with every guy on this list good enough to start.

From the college perspective, the top safeties in the 2021 NFL Draft are …

15. Richard LeCounte, Georgia

Size: 5-11, 196

The Good: A hugely productive defender at a high SEC level, he’s feisty, smart, and always seems to be in the right position with 176 career tackles with eight interceptions over the last three seasons and a whole lot of big plays and takeaways. He makes up for several issues by seemingly being a step ahead of everyone, but …

The Not-So-Good: He’s way too small and his pro day didn’t help. He’s too slender, not a big hitter, and the numbers aren’t there. He a high 4.7 runner without the explosion or star athleticism to make up for his lack of bulk.

NFL Draft College Perspective Thought: There was a time in his Georgia career when he seemed like a possible must-have star NFL prospect based on what he did on the field – he still might be, but he’ll drop. The numbers and measurables just aren’t there, but he’s a big-time baller.

Projected Round: Fifth


14. James Wiggins, Cincinnati

Size: 5-11, 209

The Good: A stout, tough hitter with 4.4ish speed, he can get around in a hurry and bring the pop when he gets there. While he’s built to do big things against the run – he made 54 tackles as a sophomore and 32 last year – he’s got a great nose for when the ball is in the air with five interceptions and 11 broken up passes in his last two years.

The Not-So-Good: He missed all of 2019 with a knee injury and wasn’t quite the same all-around playmaker when he came back. In terms of size and bulk, he might not be exactly what the next-level types want and isn’t necessarily a man-on-man coverage defender.

NFL Draft College Perspective Thought: It’s not like he was bad last year coming off the knee injury. He could still hit and he still did a whole lot of big things when the ball was in the air. The 40 time helped prove the speed is there. Don’t be shocked if he’s a terrific value get somewhere on Day 3.

Projected Round: Fifth


13. Shawn Davis, Florida

Size: 5-11, 202

The Good: A good-sized tackler who came up with a whole lot of big plays over the last two years, Davis is a strong tackler who picked off five passes and broke up plenty of others. Unlike most of the safeties in this draft, Davis will bring the intimidating and physical thump to the secondary.

The Not-So-Good: It’s a one-off – hopefully – but he hurt is hamstring trying to run on pro day. He’s aggressive and tough, but sometimes he’ll miss the basic to go for the blow-up shot. Yeah, he’s more physical than other safeties in the draft, but he’s also less versatile than most of them.

NFL Draft College Perspective Thought: A producer at a high SEC level with the toughness that’s missing from this draft. Try to blow off the concerns about his pass coverage and misfires and like that he’s going to hit someone on the other team very, very hard.

Projected Round: Fourth


12. Tyree Gillespie, Missouri

Size: 6-0, 207

The Good: 4.38. He plays fast, tackles well, and makes himself known all over the field, and then came the workouts and he ripped off a great run to go along with the decent bulk in an NFL-sized safety. A steady hitter, he came up with 144 tackles in his last three seasons.

The Not-So-Good: Interceptions. There weren’t any. He broke up plenty of passes and made plenty of good things happen, but he didn’t do enough when the ball was in the air to change games around.

NFL Draft College Perspective Thought: He’s got the tools, the experience, and the physical style that should work out as a part of the safety rotation right away. The range and speed are there to grow into a rock-solid pro – but the rest of the secondary might have to pick up the pass coverage slack.

Projected Round: Fourth


11. JaCoby Stevens, LSU

Size: 6-1, 212

The Good: A fantastic tackler over the last three seasons, he wasn’t as celebrated as other Tiger stars in the secondary, but he made 190 stops with four interceptions, 21.5 tackles for loss and 15 broken up passes. With terrific 212-pound size, he brings the thump to go along with his 4.5 speed and fantastic ranged.

The Not-So-Good: He doesn’t really have a set NFL position. While he’ll make plays in pass coverage, he’s really a bigger asset against the run. Even with his speed, he’s not going to be much if he has to handle a receiver one-on-one and might be forced to play up.

NFL Draft College Perspective Thought: Don’t get caught up in his body type that looks a bit too bulky to be a defensive back – he moves well enough to not worry about his athleticism. As long as you have corners who can handle themselves, take him and let him make every tackle.

Projected Round: Fourth

NEXT: 2021 NFL Draft Safety Rankings Top Ten