Here are the top 10 safety prospects (with projected draft round) for the 2017 NFL draft, which is set for April 27-29 in Philadelphia:
- Malik Hooker, 6-foot, 1-inch and 206 pounds, Ohio State (first): With Vonn Bell and Tyvis Powell gone to the NFL, Hooker became a starting safety last season and emerged as an All-American. He led the Big Ten with seven interceptions. He finished third on the team with 74 tackles and 11 pass-breakups.
- Jamal Adams, 6-0, 214, LSU (first): He played some nickel back as a freshmen before moving into a full-time role at cornerback as a sophomore. In 2016, he started 12 games and finished third on the team with 76 tackles. He also had six pass breakups and one interception. “I think Jamal Adams is a top-five pick,” NFL Network draft analyst Mike Mayock said.
- Jabrill Peppers, 5-11, 213, Michigan (first-second): He ran the 40-yard dash in 4.46 seconds, which is faster than Seattle All-Pro free safety Earl Thomas. “From our perspective, we talked a lot about him,” Falcons general manager Thomas Dimitroff said. “Obviously, he’s a winner. Plain and simple, he’s a smart football player. He’s a tough and competitive guy who’s versatile. I think he’ll do well in this league.” Peppers played linebacker for the Wolverines, some quarterback, running back and returned punts and kickoffs. He became the first player in Big Ten history to win three individual awards: Nagurski-Woodson defensive player of the year, Butkus-Fitzgerald linebacker of the year and Rodgers-Dwight return specialist of the year — also finished fifth in the 2016 Heisman Trophy voting.
- Budda Baker, 5-10, 195, Washington (first-second): He started 39 games for the Huskies over his career. He visited the Falcons during the pre-draft process. He ran the 40-yard dash in 4.45 seconds at the scouting combine. He led the Huskies in tackles with 71 last season.
- Marcus Maye, 6-0, 207, Florida (second): He returned for his senior season and started the first nine games before a season-ending injury. He finished with 50 tackles, seven pass-breakups and one interception.
- Obi Melifonwu, 6-4, 224, Connecticut (second-third): Ran the 40-yard dash in 4.4 seconds at the scouting combine. He broad-jumped 11 feet, 9 inches and recorded a 44-inch vertical jump at the combine. The 11-9 broad jump was the second-best number the combine has seen since 2003, behind only the record 12-3 recorded by Dallas defensive back Byron Jones in 2015.
- Marcus Williams, 6-1, 202, Utah (second-third): A three-year starter at free safety for the Utes. In 2016, he started 11 games and led the team with five interceptions, made 64 tackles and had eight pass-breakups.
- Josh Jones, 6-1, 220, N.C. State (third-fourth): He was a three-year starter for the Wolfpack. He started two seasons at strong safety before moving to free safety last season. He led the team with 109 tackles, 11 passes defended and three interceptions in 2016.
- Tedric Thompson, 6-0, 204, Colorado (third-fourth): He played 47 games and made 38 starts at Colorado. He has 13 career interceptions.
- Desmond King, 5-10, 201, Iowa (third-fourth): He played in 53 games and made 51 starts for the Hawkeyes. He’s physical against the run. He was a playmaker after interceptions with a school-record three career touchdowns, and he averaged 19.2 yards per interception return.
NFL DRAFT 2017
POSITION BY POSITION SERIES
Sunday, April 16 — QUARTERBACKS
Monday, April 17 — RUNNING BACKS
Tuesday, April 18 — WIDE RECEIVERS
Wednesday, April 19 — TIGHT ENDS
Thursday, April 20 — OFFENSIVE LINE
Friday, April 21 — DEFENSIVE LINE
Saturday, April 22 — LINEBACKERS
Sunday, April 23 — CORNERBACKS