2023 NFL DRAFT // WALT’S TOP SAFETY PROSPECTS 1.0

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Photo Cred: Walt Stringer

 

In the 2022 Safety Class there were (3) selected in the 1st round, and a total of (5) picked within the first 62 selections. Statistically both numbers were massive leaps upon what we saw from the 2021 Class which had (0) selected in the 1st round, a total of only (3) picked within the first 62 selections, and Jevon Holland being the first selected at pick #36 by the Miami Dolphins. Kyle Hamilton spearheaded a deeper talent pool in 2022 by being selected 14th overall by the Baltimore Ravens after many believed he was potentially a top 10 talent.

Looking ahead to 2023 we could possibly witness a very similar outcome to 2021 with no real “Elite” prospects currently standing out above the rest, but still providing some depth when it comes down to “Schematic Scheme Fits”. This article is the first installment of a 2-part look into the 8 best safety prospects going into the 2022-2023 College Football Season.

Brandon Joseph / Notre Dame (via Northwestern)

NDInsider.com

Joseph has a lot to prove coming into 2022 knowing that 2021 was not his best showing in his final season at Northwestern. The Sophomore transfer saw his missed tackles triple, and his flair for making the big play in coverage dwindled. He was an All-American ballhawk in 2020 that appeared to be on pace to becoming a 1st round pick, but scheme changes and being delegated to spending more time in the box for a coverage safety whose strong suit has never been tackling nor physical play would likely explain his alarmingly high missed tackle numbers, and dip in interceptions. If Notre Dame can bring back the cerebral and alert ball magnet, we saw in 2020 then Joseph could very well be in the conversation for one of the top safeties off the board in next April’s draft.

 

Jalen Catalon / Arkansas

HawgBeat.com

Proved to be one of the more well-rounded big play safeties in the country in 2020 when he tallied 99 tkls, 3 ints, and 2ff’s, with 1 defensive touchdown scored. Catalon was on his way to a similar statistical season before being sidelined by a shoulder injury after only 6 games in 2021. A bit undersized, but plays fast, decisive, physical, and excels in zone coverage. If he’s fully healthy there’s no reason, why he shouldn’t see his draft stock continue to rise with another outstanding season.

 

Jordan Battle / Alabama

Rolltidewire.usatoday.com

Versatile enough to play both safety positions at a high level. Prototypical size at 6’1” 210lbs, plays the run very well, and is solid at reading & reacting in the intermediate pass game. Alabama doesn’t get tested deep defensively a whole lot, and there are questions about his long speed which both play a part in why his deep coverage skills have been questioned, but over the past 2 seasons Battle has graded out in the Top 10% of safeties in the country and has improved on the backend tremendously from 2020 to 2021. Heading into the new season Jordan Battle appears to be the safest and most pro ready out of the potential prospects so far. 

 

Quindell Johnson / Memphis

Dailymemphian.com

6’1” 205lbs with terrific athleticism in coverage and a willingness to play around the line of scrimmage. Confident and plays with a serious competitive streak that shows up in downfield pursuit. Doesn’t have the big interception numbers, but definitely carries the range, vision, and ball skills to be a difference maker, and he displayed them all last season on way to 11 passes defensed which were second on the entire Memphis team. Johnson may be an unfamiliar name to most football fans, but he’s firmly on the NFL Radar, and has been since 2020.