The importance of the safety position is difficult to assess. There are only a handful of impact players so the market value for an average player can be somewhat inflated for the on-the-field results. Non-impact players populate the highest paid list (Ken Hamlin, Chris Hope, Madieu Williams). Even with that salary bloat, the franchise/transition tenders are relatively low - only the TE and P/K positions are lower.
The draft is therefore a decent way to get good value. You can use a 2nd or 3rd round pick and have one of the best prospects at that position without having to overpay for potential.
This begs the question: who to draft? With only a few exceptions, the impact safeties are all ranked in the top 100. The most notable exceptions to this have been Chris Horton and Cody Grimm. From a workout perspective, all prospects ranked in the top 100 had a 40-time of 4.55 or less. The exceptions to this include Jairus Byrd (4.68), Michael Hamlin (4.61). The 20 yard shuttle time is perhaps equally important as a metric for safeties as they need to be able to change directions quickly. Most prospects have a shuttle time of 4.30 or less.
Here is the recent draft history at the safety position. The prospect rank / draft position is shown in parentheses followed by games played / started.
SS T.J. Ward (109/38) - 16/16, 123 tackles, 2 INT, 12 PDef, 0 sacks
SS Eric Berry (4/5) - 16/16, 92 tackles, 4 INT, 13 PDef, 2 sacks
FS Earl Thomas (14/14) - 16/16, 76 tackles, 5 INT, 12 PDef, 0 sacks
FS Cody Grimm (245/210) - 11/9, 57 tackles, 2 INT, 4 PDef, 0 sacks
FS Nate Allen (45/37) - 13/13, 48 tackles, 3 INT, 11 PDef, 2 sacks
FS Taylor Mays Southern California (31/37)
FS Morgan Burnett Georgia Tech (50/76)
SS Chad Jones LSU (74/76)
FS Major Wright Florida (94/75)
FS Louis Delmas (40/33) - 15/15, 94 tackles, 2 INT, 10 PDef, 1 sack
FS Jairus Byrd (53/42) - 14/11, 45 tackles, 9 INT, 20 PDef, 0 sacks
SS Pat Chung (49/34) - 16/1, 37 tackles, 1 INT, 2 PDef, 2 sacks
SS Al Afalava (276/190) - 13/13, 53 tackles, 0 INT, 0 PDef, 2 sacks (cut after rookie year)
FS William Moore Missouri (50/55)
FS Rashad Johnson Alabama (59/95)
FS Chip Vaughn Wake Forest (75/115)
SS Michael Hamlin Clemson (83/116)
FS Darcel McBath Texas Tech (97/48)
SS Chris Horton (339/249) - 14/10, 76 tackles, 3 INT, 8 PDef, 1 sack
FS Kenny Phillips (28/31) - 16/3, 67 tackles, 1 INT, 6 PDef, 0 sacks
FS Charles Godfrey (67/67) - 16/16, 61 tackles, 1 INT, 6 PDef, 1 sack
FS Tyrell Johnson (40/43) - 16/7, 31 tackles, 1 INT, 3 PDef,
FS DaJuan Morgan North Carolina State (53/82)
FS Thomas DeCoud California (96/98)
SS Tom Zbikowski Notre Dame (101/86)
Here's the prospect list for 2011:
FS Rahim Moore UCLA (49/?)
FS Quinton Carter Oklahoma (73/?)
FS Marcus Gilchrist Clemson (93/?)
SS Tyler Sash Iowa (101/?)
SS DeAndre McDaniel Clemson (102/?)
FS Jaiquawn Jarrett Temple (107/?)
FS Robert Sands West Virginia (118/?)
Interestingly, only Marcus Gilchrist passes the "workout metric test" although Moore and Carter have excellent shuttle times. Robert Sands has an intriguing size/quickness ratio.
This is a FanPost and does not necessarily reflect the views of Cincy Jungle's writers or editors. It does reflect the views of this particular fan though, which is as important as the views of Cincy Jungle's writers or editors.