2011 NFL Draft Player Rankings: Free Safeties
Moving onward with the draft coverage, we come to the free safeties. The free safety position is quite coveted by NFL teams. A free safety that can help in run support is a huge bonus, as that is the last line of defense against a running back.
But a free safety primarily is responsible for the biggest part of the secondary, and needs to have excellent instincts and awareness. Free safeties should be a bit quicker, faster, and more versatile than a strong safety, as they will be called upon to cover a different array of receivers.
Some great examples of ideal free safeties are guys like Ed Reed and Brian Dawkins as well as 2010 NFL Draft first round picks Eric Berry, and Earl Thomas.
NFL Soup presents its 2011 NFL Draft Free Safety rankings.
1) Rahim Moore- UCLA*- 5’11 3/4 202
Moore is an extremely athletic play maker who leads the UCLA defense. Moore has been a three year starter, and broke out even more in his sophomore season when he recorded 10 interceptions. Moore is one of the best zone safeties in the nation. He also has the speed and hips to play in man coverage on a slot receiver, and could probably play corner at the next level. He’s not a very good tackler often not being very aggressive and taking bad angles, however.
2) Deunta Williams- North Carolina- 6’2 205
Williams is a top notch safety who starred on a North Carolina defense with a ton of talent. Williams has fantastic size for the safety position, and he is a defensive play maker. The term “ballhawk” comes to mind when talking about Williams who seems to be where the ball is. He’s excellent in covering in zone situations, and can hold with his man in man coverage situations. He needs to work on wrapping up, as he’s not the most sure tackler, but he’s got a lot of room to grow.
3) Quinton Carter- Oklahoma- 6’0 5/8 208
Carter may not be the biggest safety, but he sure can hit you. He’s not as fast as NFL teams would like to see, but he’s quick, and makes up for not being the most athletic player with his football IQ. He takes great angles while tackling, and covering, and he covers quite a bit of ground. He needs work wrapping up consistently, and doesn’t play with a lot of aggression.
4) Robert Sands- West Virginia*- 6’4 3/8 217
When you see Robert Sands in the NFL Combine, be ready to say “Wow”. He’s got very solid athletic ability and has a big frame for a safety. He’s not the fastest player, but he’s a big hitter and punishing tackler. He could use work in actually wrapping up, showing shades of Taylor Mays, and tends to play more of a deep middle position, not often covering man on. His aggression, great attitude and fearlessness make him an exciting target in the 2nd or 3rd round.
5) Will Hill- Florida*- 6’0 3/4 202
You have to love a player that has a name that rhymes. Hill is one of the most athletic Gator’s to hit the field on Saturday’s, and that’s saying a lot. He’s very fast, and covers a lot of ground, but is still very raw overall. His football IQ is questionable, and he sometimes relies too heavily on his athleticism. Still, Hill finds the ball and makes a play on it in the air, and is an above average tackler.
6) Jermale Hines- Ohio State- 6’1 1/8 219
You have to love what Hines brings to the table in terms of run support. Hines plays like an extra linebacker in the Buckeyes defense. While he’s not the greatest coverage athlete, he does a great job not letting anything get behind him. He needs to learn how to read and react better, and not get his eyes caught in the backfield.
7) Jaiquawn Jarrett- Temple- 5’11 7/8 198
Jarrett has been a four year starter for a much improved Temple Owls defense. Jarrett has been the undoubted leader of the Owls defense and has used his excellent combination of size and speed to make plays. He’s great in run support, having no problem making a play at the line of scrimmage. He has the speed to cover in man coverage, but needs to work on keeping the opposition in front of him. He has a lot of upside.
8 ) Dejon Gomes- Nebraska- 5’11 1/2 208
Gomes is another sure tackling safety who does an excellent job making plays against those quick Big 12 running backs. Gomes also plays well in man coverage, not having problems lining up on a tight end or slot receiver and keeping with them. He needs to learn to read and react a bit better, but does a great job coming up to the line and making a play against the run.
9) Chris Culliver- South Carolina- 6’0 3/8 199
Culliver is a versatile safety who has missed time in 2010 with a shoulder injury. Culliver made the switch to cornerback in his senior year, but has played free safety most of his career. As a safety, he’s excellent in zone coverage and has solid speed to keep up with his opposition. He’s a solid tackler, and can make plays in the backfield.
10) Eugene Clifford- Tennessee State- 6’2 195
11) Mark LeGree- Appalachian State- 5’11 1/2 210
12) Chris Posinski- Wyoming- 6’1 210
13) Javes Lewis- Oregon- 6’1 190 7th
14) Michael Ricks- Stillman- 6’1 183
15) Brian Lainhart- Kent State- 6’1 207
16) Brett Greenwood- Iowa- 6’0 200
17) Richard Sherman- Stanford- 6’2 5/8 195
18) Fon Ingram- Ole Miss- 5’11 190
19) Antwine Perez- Maryland- 6’1 210
20) Troy Woolfolk- Michigan- 6’0 195
21) Zac Etheridge- Auburn- 6’0 214
22) Johnny Brown- Ole Miss- 6’0 212
More 2011 NFL Draft Player Rankings: