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The Safety position has become one of the toughest to grade in all of football. But, it is the easiest transition from college to pros and most of these guys will make that transition just fine. From helmet jarring hitters to smooth back pedaling ball-hawks, here are the top five NFL safety prospects of 2022:
1. Jordan Battle, Alabama
HT: 6’1” WT: 210 lbs.
2020 Statline: 2020 Statline: 39 tackles, 1 interception, 4 passes defensed
Battle may have the best eyes and play diagnosing skills in the entire 2022 class. His ability to close on runners and jump routes in the pass game is as good as any safety prospect in the last five years. A very twitchy athlete, Battle plays with the instincts you expect out of a safety at the next level.
The only issue with the Alabama safety is where he slots at the pro level. Is he a strong safety or a free safety? His frame says rangy strong safety but his play style lends itself to the free safety as well. Regardless, he will be a plug and play piece for any defense he is put in.
2. Kyle Hamilton, Notre Dame
HT: 6’4” WT: 210 lbs.
2020 Statline: 51 tackles, 1 interception, 7 passes defensed
Kyle Hamilton is a big-bodied safety that looks more like a linebacker than a defensive back. Despite his height he has loose hips that help him excel in man coverage and react to runs to the outside. He is an excellent reader of the field in zone coverage as well, which makes him a headache for opposing quarterbacks.
The knock I have on Hamilton is that he isn’t an instinct player. He plays what is in front of him and that will hurt him in the pros. There is also the question of whether he is an athletic linebacker or a big safety but no matter the position, he is a dandy.
3. Trey Sterling, Oklahoma State
HT: 6’1” WT: 202 lbs.
2020 Statline: 51 tackles, 2 interceptions, 4 passes defensed
One half of maybe the most talented defensive backfield tandem in college football, Trey Sterling is the perfect pure free safety. Sterling is more comfortable playing centerfield and breaking on the ball than playing down in the box. He is a more than capable run defender as well, which has helped his stock rise.
Sterling needs to polish up his angles and tenacity when in pursuit of the ball carrier. He at times runs up and shuffles his feet instead of playing behind his pads and running through the tackle. He may also need to add weight to become a more solid tackler at the next level.
4. Kolby Harrell-Peel, Oklahoma State
HT: 6’0” WT: 210 lbs.
2020 Statline: 31 tackles, 2 interception, 4 passes defensed
Like his teammate Trey Sterling, Harvell-Peel is a pure strong safety. He is a more polished tackler than his teammate and is not out of place playing in the box. He is strong enough to take on blockers on the edge and separate receivers from the ball in the pass game.
Harvell-Peel does okay in pass coverage but needs to improve. He is more than capable playing against tight ends in man coverage or curl-flat zones. His adjustment period is going to be a lot easier than most at the next level and he will be successful early in his pro career.
5. Reed Blankenship, Middle Tennessee State
HT: 6’1” WT: 200 lbs.
2020 Statline: 37 tackles, 0 interceptions, 1 pass defensed
If there is anyone that will draw some twisted looks on this list, it’s Reed Blankenship, but let me tell you the kid can play the safety position with the best of them. A tenacious tackler with great feel for the where the ball tackler is going, Blankenship would be perfect in a traditional 4-3 front scheme. He isn’t bad in pass coverage either, possessing the speed to play centerfield.
With the way he plays I’d like to see him put on a little more weight since he has such a slight frame. He can carry about 210-215 pounds and not lose any burst. He also needs to show more in coverage but all in all he is one to keep an eye on as a top prospect this year.