I’ll tell anyone who will listen how much I love NFL safety play. They’re flexible, variable, exciting, and impactful. They have to master multiple skills like no other players in the NFL.
But the simple term “safety” is very misleading. Given how flexibly they’re used, it’s hugely important to understand how different players are used and therefore how valuable they’ll be as IDPs.
It’s never too early to start analyzing how useful they’ll be so I wanted to start splitting some of my favorite players in the class into groups and trying to identify potential landing spots.
What roles exist in the NFL?
In a league with a lot of teams who predominantly run a cover one/three scheme this is the free deep safety. He’s the player furthest away from the ball and needs to display range, decision-making, timing, and intelligence. Think Earl Thomas, Glover Quin, Malik Hooker or Kevin Byard. Going back a little further, Ed Reed is the true template for the position.
Most of the best-paid safeties in the NFL are deep safeties which tells us how highly the league values this skillset. There just aren’t a lot of prospects who display the elite speed and instincts the position needs.
Unfortunately, the IDP world tends not to value these players that much which means we often fall into the trap of not really understanding how important they are to real defenses.