With the 2016 NFL Scouting Combine winding down, my look at the safest prospects at each position concludes with defensive backs.
The name of the position -- "safety" -- might lead one to believe that teams take on less risk by selecting these defensive backs early in the draft. There is some truth to it, but, obviously, that wasn't the inspiration for the moniker. The job description for a safety: a hard-hitting and reliable tackler with deep coverage abilities who can create turnovers. In many defensive schemes, safeties keep offenses from turning a good play into an explosive one, or preventing an explosive play from turning into a score. These traits are what make a safety, well, safe.
These three safeties are my safe bets in the 2016 draft class. As with every position group in this series, there is a mix of top-rated prospects and others for whom I project a long NFL career without the early-round hype.
1. Jalen Ramsey, Florida State: I could have included Ramsey with the cornerbacks, but his "safest" position might actually be in leading a defense from the back end. He has the athleticism and length to cover receivers, and could very well end up outside to start off his career. Some teams might decide his ball skills and tackling ability are best utilized in a leadership role where he can work inside and outside, playing everywhere from nickel to single-deep. That's versatility that a defensive coordinator should relish.
2. Darian Thompson, Boise State: Thompson proved himself a ballhawk as a four-year contributor for the Broncos, setting a Mountain West Conference record with 19 career interceptions. Thompson played in traffic to stop the run and was active versus the pass, showing an all-around game that likely will make him an immediate starter in the league.
3. Vonn Bell, Ohio State: Picking a third "safe" pick for the safety spot was the toughest decision I had to make in this series. Between Keanu Neal, Karl Joseph and Bell, there are three early second-round options for teams looking for a new starter in the back half. Bell edges out the others because not only is he capable of creating turnovers with hits and solid hands, like Neal and Joseph, but he's also athletic enough to handle nickel coverage responsibilities. That sort of dual-threat option at safety is coveted in today's NFL.