Sept 22, 2012; Tallahassee, Florida, USA; Florida State Seminoles defensive back Terrence Brooks (31) celebrates after a defensive stop during the second half of the game against the Clemson Tigers at Doak Campbell Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Melina Vastola-USA TODAY Sports

2014 NFL Draft: Finding The Kansas City Chiefs A Safety

ArmchairAddict1

The Kansas City Chiefs offseason has been a relatively uneventful one. While I’m content with what KC has done (or more accurately, not done) it does put an added emphasis on the upcoming NFL draft. Last week I broke down some possible mid-round WR prospects. In the comments of that post I received a request to do something similar with the safety position. So this week I’ve got a short preview of nine different safety prospects that I personally would like to see in a Chiefs uniform next season. These are NOT the nine best safety prospects in this draft. There are some prospects that I’m not a big fan of, some that have character issues that scared me off, and then I basically ignored any prospect that I felt was more of a run support safety with limited coverage abilities.

It’s my belief that with how KC has shown that they prefer to use Eric Berry around the line of scrimmage that their other starting safety needs to be strong in coverage. That means both being able to cover some in man to man and dropping back and playing “center field” as the last line of defense against the deep ball. If you feel like KC would be better served with a bruising enforcer type next to Berry, feel free to make your case in the comments below, but you won’t find those guys in this post (with maybe one exception).

The safeties on this list would all be great additions to the KC secondary as rookies, either as the starting FS, a third safety (which KC used on a number of occasions), or some even possess the skills to drop down and play nickel back against slot WRs. While opinions vary, these players are predicted to go anywhere from the first round to the 5th round. So regardless of how big of a priority drafting a safety is to you, there is a prospect on this list that could be an option.

Let’s get to it.

HaHa Clinton-Dix – Alabama – 6’1″ – 208 lbs – 4.58 forty

In the eyes of most evaluators Alabama’s HaHa Clinton-Dix is the top safety prospect in this draft. In a league that has become so reliant on the passing game, Clinton-Dix is the superior pass defender to the other top safety prospect, Calvin Pryor. Clinton-Dix is still a solid tackler and is extremely aggressive, he just possesses better instincts in coverage. He also has ideal size for the position. If he was still on the board at pick #23 the Chiefs should jump all over him.

Calvin Pryor – Louisville – 5’11″ – 207 lbs – 4.58 forty

The other clear cut first round safety prospect in this draft is Pryor. In contrast with Clinton-Dix, Pryor is the superior run defender. He has an intimidating “enforcer” presence on the football field that every fan craves for their safeties to have. It may sound like a contradiction, but despite Pryor being my favorite safety on this list, I’m not sure he’s a good fit for the Chiefs. While Pryor does possess some good ball skills and makes some plays in coverage, his best attribute is his physicality. In a lot of ways he’s very similar to Eric Berry, and that’s why I’m not sure KC is a natural fit. I don’t know if they need two safeties with such similar strengths. If the Chiefs drafted him at #23 I would be excited, but if they opted to pass on him and take one of the other safeties on this list later in the draft I would definitely understand.

Nov 20, 2013; Toledo, OH, USA; Northern Illinois Huskies safety Jimmie Ward (15) warms up before the game against the Toledo Rockets at Glass Bowl. Mandatory Credit: Raj Mehta-USA TODAY Sports

Jimmie Ward – Northern Illinois – 5’11″ – 193 lbs – 4.47 forty

There are varying opinions of Northern Illinois safety Jimmie Ward. Some feel he will be a late first round pick due to his strong coverage skills (some have even called him the best man to man cover safety in this draft). Others feel that his smaller frame is a concern and his skills are more worthy of a 2nd or 3rd round pick. I’m in the first group. I think having a safety like Ward that could play FS in the base defense and also give you the option to drop down and cover slot WRs in the nickel is valuable enough that Ward could go as high as #21 to the Packers and I would have no problem with KC taking him at #23. I don’t see any way he would fall to KC in the 3rd round.

Lamarcus Joyner – Florida State – 5’8″ – 195 lbs – 4.55 forty

If Lamarcus Joyner was 6’1″ and 210 lbs he would be challenging Clinton-Dix to be the top safety taken in this draft. Joyner plays like he’s that size and his game plays like that of an NFL FS. However, his diminutive size is obviously an issue. Despite that size, he’s very physical and aggressive while displaying excellent ball skills. He probably won’t be an option for KC because pick #23 would be too early for a player his size and I don’t see his skills dropping to KC in the 3rd. However, if his size were to scare people off and he did fall to KC in the 3rd they would be foolish to pass him up. Even if he didn’t work as a starting FS his skills as a physical nickel back that could take down RBs and cover slot WRs would be worthy of that pick. If KC were to pick up a 2nd round pick with some kind of a trade, Joyner would be an ideal target.

Terrence Brooks – Florida State – 5’11″ – 198 lbs – 4.42 forty

Joyner’s FSU teammate Terrence Brooks is another one of my favorite safeties in this class. He has experience playing CB and may be the fastest safety prospect in this draft. He’s physical enough to play safety in the NFL despite his size being more like that of a CB. Like both Ward and Joyner, Brooks has the skill set to drop down and cover slot WRs man to man. If KC doesn’t draft a safety in the first round Brooks would be at the top of my list to draft in the third. However, his speed and coverage skills may make him falling that far unlikely.

Aug 29, 2013; Honolulu, HI, USA; Southern California Trojans linebacker Dion Bailey (18) against the Hawaii Rainbow Warriors at Aloha Stadium. USC defeated Hawaii 30-13. Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

Dion Bailey – USC – 6’0″ – 200 lbs – 4.66 forty

Bailey is one of the more interesting prospects on this list. He possesses some of the coverage skills needed to play CB, yet he played one season at LB for USC. Normally a safety prospect with LB experience would be a clear SS type and more of a run stopper than a coverage guy, but that’s not the case with Bailey. He seems to have a nose for the ball and I think he has a very high upside. However, because he’s a little raw and it’s a bit of a question mark as to how he’ll take to playing a traditional FS in the NFL there is some bust risk here.

Ed Reynolds – Stanford – 6’1″ – 207 lbs – 4.57 forty

Reynolds is one of the more traditional safeties on this list. In my opinion he is the only safety on this list besides Pryor that could play either of the traditional FS or SS roles. He also has the more prototypical size and build for the position that some of the others on this list are lacking. His aggressive nature has gotten him in trouble both for biting on fakes and getting beat deep and also for leading with his helmet and getting ejected in one game. However, if KC is looking for a safety with starter upside in the 3rd or 4th round Reynolds would be a solid choice.

Dec 28, 2012; Orlando, FL, USA; Virginia Tech Hokies cornerback Antone Exum (1) returns an interception thrown by Rutgers Scarlet Knights quarterback Gary Nova (not pictured) during the fourth quarter of the 2012 Russell Athletic Bowl at the Citrus Bowl. Virginia Tech defeated Rutgers 13-10 in overtime. Mandatory Credit: Douglas Jones-USA TODAY Sports

Antone Exum – Virginia Tech – 6’0″ – 213 lbs – 4.59 forty

Virginia Tech’s Antone Exum is a safety prospect that is flying under the radar in my opinion. He missed most of 2013 with injuries, but in 2012 he lead Virginia Tech with five interceptions and 16 passes defended while playing CB. That’s pretty good for a guy that in 2011 lead his team in tackles while playing safety. If you take one look at Exum he looks much more like a safety than he does a CB and I think FS will be his best position in the NFL. Virginia Tech has a great track record recently of putting DBs into the NFL and I think Exum will greatly out perform his draft position which is currently predicted to be somewhere in the middle rounds. The only question mark for me is that after being cleared by doctors to come back from an ACL injury he declined to play at first saying he wasn’t ready. The Chiefs would want to make sure his medicals and his desire to play check out but I really think Exum could be a steal in the middle rounds.

Marqueston Huff – Wyoming – 5’11″ – 196 lbs – 4.49 forty

Marqueston Huff is another intriguing safety/cornerback prospect in this draft. Huff possesses the size and speed of a CB, which is what he played early in his college career. However, in 2013 he moved to safety and recorded an astounding 127 tackles. At the Senior Bowl he played both CB and safety and showed the skills needed to play either position. Having a player that can cover well and is that willing to mix it up and tackle ball carriers will be a valuable commodity on draft day. Huff is another player with some upside that could be had in the middle rounds.

So there you have it. Some safety prospects that I would like to see KC target in next month’s NFL draft. You can see that the ability to cover is something that I have placed a high priority on. Before anyone takes to the comments to complain about all the undersized prospects on this list, keep in mind that the best FS in football, Earl Thomas is 5’10″ and played some CB in college (just saying). There are safety prospects like Deone Bucannon, Craig Loston, and Ahmad Dixon that I think will be good NFL players, but simply profile as traditional SS type players that I don’t think KC needs with Eric Berry on the roster. Also, I looked at Jonathan Dowling of Western Kentucky but his character concerns took him off my list.

So what do you think Addicts? What safety would you like to see KC draft next month? Where do you think the best value is? Did I leave someone off this list that you think belongs on it? I’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments below.

As always, thanks for reading and GO CHIEFS!!!!!!

Follow me on Twitter: @LyleGraversen

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