Richner: Top Safeties
Top 5 Safeties
Safety is probably the weakest position in the entire draft class. Mark Barron from Alabama is the top rated prospect. With teams needing help in the secondary, someone may want to reach for him because the next rated prospect isn't worth a first round pick.
1. Mark Barron (SS, Alabama): As the leader in career interceptions amongst this year's draft class of safeties, Mark Barron firmly stands atop as the leader. To go along with his interception totals, Barron posted 13 tackles for loss and 22 pass break ups for his career. His abilities to locate the football and make a play are what really separate him from the rest of the pack. Barron is very strong against the run and was brought into the box as an extra defender often last season. He has elite tackling ability, perfect form tackles and almost never lets go of the ball carrier. He comes from a complex defense and he should be prepared to start right away in the NFL.
2. Markelle Martin (FS, Oklahoma State): A fantastic athletic skill set has led Martin to rack up 39 pass breakups throughout his career, tops amongst this year's safety class. He has a knack for coming up big in big games. In the Fiesta Bowl versus Stanford, he had 8 tackles, one tackle for loss and was able to show coverage skills against the nation's top TE in Coby Fleener. Against Baylor this year, Martin was able to keep Kendall Wright out of the end zone and helped cause Robert Griffin III to turn the ball over twice. Martin is projected as a free safety at the next level.
3. Harrison Smith (SS, Notre Dame): As a four-year starter at Notre Dame, Smith displayed excellent coverage abilities. With 35 career pass break ups and seven career interceptions to his credit, Smith showed he can handle being the last line of defense. His 6'2", 212 lbs. frame should match up well against today's taller, elite WRs. For all his coverage skills, Smith is a dynamic run stopper and shows a willingness to get down in the trenches and stuff the run. He will bring great flexibility to any defense and is projected to be a starting SS in this league.
4. George Iloka (FS, Boise State): A tough, durable player, Iloka didn't miss a game in the four years he played at Boise State. At 6'3", he has the size and capability to matchup with NFL tight ends. He showed a great deal of ability at locating and tracking the ball in the air, along with making up significant space to make a play. As a former linebacker, Iloka excels at coming up and being a factor in the running game. At the very least, he will be an excellent addition to any NFL club's special teams unit and, down the road, could be an above average safety.
5. Antonio Allen (SS, South Carolina): Allen played primarily as an in the box defender in 2011. Last season, he had 88 tackles, 9.5 tackles for loss and four forced fumbles. Allen will need to work on his pass coverage skills and was susceptible to the play-action fake which caused him to lose sight of the wide receiver and give up big plays on a number of occasions last season.