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Thread: Ranking the Safeties

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    Ranking the Safeties

    I think most will agree that the Rams need to upgrade the safety position this offseason. While rookie T.J. McDonald showed promise, nobody has a stranglehold on the other safety spot.

    This is a crucial issue, in my opinion, as the lack of confidence in the Rams' safeties is likely a primary reason the team played a lot of loose coverage, which allowed teams to march down the field with short passes.

    Here is my current ranking of the safety prospects:

    1. Hasean Clinton-Dix, Alabama (Jr.) 6’1, 206
    Clinton-Dix comes out of the gate as the top prospect. He has very good football instincts, and has demonstrated the ability to read the QB and break on the ball. Some question his tackling, though this is not a major concern. He has played very well against the top college competition and in the biggest games. A likely first round pick and day 1 starter.

    2. Ed Reynolds, Stanford (rJr.) 6’2, 206
    Reynolds has thesize, physical tools, and skills to excel at the FS position. His productivity was excellent as well, as he finished with 87 tackles and 6 interceptions. If he proves to be faster than Clinton-Dix, I’d probably elevate him tothe top spot.

    3. Calvin Pryor, Louisville (Jr.) 6’2, 208
    Pryor is the third of the “big 3” at the top of the safety class, and his workouts could elevate him above the other two. Great in run support, and can play “center field” as well. A physical presence that will make opposing receivers nervous.

    4. Deone Buchannon, Washington State (Sr.) 6’1, 215
    Viewed by most as a SS-type, but his overall playmaking abilities are impressive. Had 109 tackles, 5 interceptions and 4 forced fumbles in 2013. Would be a major upgrade in run support from the safety position, and would pair nicely with T.J. McDonald in that role.

    5. Craig Loston, LSU (rSr.)6’1, 209
    The latest product off the LSU DB assembly line. He has good size and overall skills for the position. While he missed some time this year due to nagging injuries, he showed up well in the biggest games, as he had the game clinching interception against Texas A&M, and finished the year with a huge game in the Outback Bowl.

    6. Dion Bailey, USC (rJr.) 6’0, 200
    Could the Rams pair T.J. McDonald with his former Trojan teammate? Bailey played OLB and S at USC, though he settled into the latter position in 2013. A bit smaller than you’d like, but plays bigger than his size.

    7. Ahmad Dixon, Baylor(Sr.) 6’0, 205
    Another prospect who will be labeled as a SS-type. Dixon is a big hitter – so much so that he drew some penalties for “targeting.” He also showed the ability to play the back end with some success. The skill is there, but he’ll need some coaching.

    Other Notable Prospects: Kenny Ladler, Vanderbilt; Terrence Brooks, FSU; Jimmy Ward, Northern Illinois; Tre Boston, North Carolina

    Potential CB/S Prospects: Lamarcus Joyner, FSU; Antone Exum, VaTech
    Last edited by AvengerRam; -01-16-2014 at 01:15 PM.
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    Re: Ranking the Safeties

    Good assesments AvR, as you say I think some will or should be rated higher than HaHa... I watched him more than the others and was not as happy with him as some are. I would really look into the other guys hoping for a more complete player and better ball hawk. But I want this next safety pick to be a cannot miss kinda guy if possiable. We really need a good compliment to T.J. as you also alluded to. I trust Fish & Les et al to come up with the best prospect for this super critical pick. I also like Gilbert the CB allot, will be fun to see where we pick a safety and CB if we do.

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    Re: Ranking the Safeties

    unless we think there is a guy that is a elite pro-bowl caliber -- I would not think we waste a high pick (1st-4th) rounds -- on a safety....

    Our defense will be Top 10 if we make minor additions --- late round picks and UFA's ......

    Safeties can be found later and anywhere in FA as well........

    Money and priorties need to go elsewhere....especially when we have TJ McDonald....

    I don't think many of you can name both safeties on any given team, never-mind the round they were drafted in....

    Safeites need value, depth, and rotational abilities with special team supplementation.

    Fisher and Les will do it right....no worries
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    Re: Ranking the Safeties

    Quote Originally Posted by richtree View Post
    unless we think there is a guy that is a elite pro-bowl caliber -- I would not think we waste a high pick (1st-4th) rounds -- on a safety....

    Our defense will be Top 10 if we make minor additions --- late round picks and UFA's ......

    Safeties can be found later and anywhere in FA as well........

    Money and priorties need to go elsewhere....especially when we have TJ McDonald....

    I don't think many of you can name both safeties on any given team, never-mind the round they were drafted in....

    Safeites need value, depth, and rotational abilities with special team supplementation.

    Fisher and Les will do it right....no worries
    I think you are undervaluing the position.

    FWIW, three of the four starting safeties in the NFC Championship game were first round draft picks.
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    Re: Ranking the Safeties

    The Combine is where this position really gets shaken out and the cr eam rises.

    Also, I bet a lot of these guys come in shorter than advertised.
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    Re: Ranking the Safeties

    Quote Originally Posted by Barry Waller View Post
    The Combine is where this position really gets shaken out and the cr eam rises.
    I agree with that, but I also think that for the safety position, 40 time can be overrated. If a player has good instincts and consistently is where he's supposed to be on the field, "recovery speed" is merely a bonus.

    For example, Kenny Vaccaro's 40 time (4.63) was viewed by many (myself included) as a bit of a "red flag." However, it did not stop him from becoming a productive starter on a vastly improved Saints defense and making the All-Rookie first team.
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    Re: Ranking the Safeties

    I think richtree has it right. Unless we think the next Earl Thomas is sitting there we're probably best to wait until later or UDFA. I will probably catch a lot of flak for saying this, but with a year + under his belt what do we think Rodney McLeod can provide. He'll have more experience and knowledge than any rookie and is he at his ceiling? The answers to those type of questions will be crucial. We know Jeff likes him because he mentioned his play in more than a few Monday pressers. If we add a good pass rushing OLB that could be more helpful to our pass defense, forcing hurried passes leading to incompletions or interceptions.

    Good list and analysis. I don't pay a lot of attention to safety's, but as Barry said, the Combine will sort this position out rather quickly. As I recall that is where Earl Thomas came onto a number of team's radar screens.

    Go Rams!

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    Re: Ranking the Safeties

    At this point, I probably would not take a safety with the No. 13 selection, as I think there are CBs (Dennard, Gilbert) and WRs (Evans, Benjamin) who will still be on the board who I would take above any of the safeties in this year's class.

    I certainly would consider a safety with the Rams' second round pick (#44), and there should be good options available at that point in the draft.
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    Re: Ranking the Safeties

    I think CB, WR, OL (especially with the need at OT, G, and C) have to take priority --- not to mention there could be an impact player at above positon twice.....example WR, WR --- or CB, OT, CB.....that makes safety low on the list....especially with our defense doing so well.

    a guy like Ty Zimmerman could slip to round 5 and still be a legit starter...

    I don't think any FS will be a big time Round 1 guy, that we can pass on pass protection for our QB that is more battered each and every season.....

    With Dahl and Wells potential leaving...Long and Saffold having injuries concerns....it leaves Barksdale and a Center that never played......

    I see to think this will go as top priority for multiple rounds over a FS early

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    Re: Ranking the Safeties

    kinda hope dion bailey falls to the rams, dude is just a good football player, appropriate size or not

    they say he may be too small to be a safety, same could definitely be said for linebacker...didn't matter, had game changing interceptions and 100 plus tackles at linebacker

    at the safety position, where he played in HS, he got the stops, the deflections, the picks

    just plays good football, sure there may be better prospects, but if the rams picked him i'd take it just fine

    plus he's not that much smaller, don't know where they get the "too small" though "a bit smaller than you'd like" sounds a bit more accurate like AV said
    Last edited by citr92; -01-16-2014 at 07:42 PM.

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    Re: Ranking the Safeties

    Still want Pryor. Not that it means much, but over at CBS Sports, they have Pryor ranked higher than Clinton-Dix now. I originally hoped we could get him in round 3, now i'm hoping round 2, but if he goes off at the combine and everything, he might become a 1st rounder .


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    Re: Ranking the Safeties

    To all those advocating that we don't draft a safety high and wait for the later rounds or UDFA, are you happy with Jankins and Johnson having to play 10 yards off the line of scrimmage? Because they are only doing that because our free safety play was not up to scratch

    I want to draft a safety high. #13 would be a good position. I want the team to be able to let JJ and Tru play in the face of the opposition WRs
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    Re: Ranking the Safeties

    Something was definitely not right with the 2013 Rams pass coverage, considering the 2012 coverage showed very good potential with the rise of Jenkins. Trumaine Johnson also shows promising attributes.

    I definitely think safety is a position of need either in the 2nd or 3rd round of the draft, or in FA. Our corners need to be able to play closer to the line, as both have the skill to do so.

    I think the lack of experience in 2013 at the safety position led to loose coverage, giving the impression that Jenkins has regressed since his stellar rookie year. A good safety can go a long way, as shown by the dominant Seahawks and ***** defenses.

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    Re: Ranking the Safeties

    Last year, 9 of the top 10 safeties taken were gone by the end of the third round, and the 10th was taken at the top of the 4th round:

    1(15): Kenny Vaccaro, New Orleans
    1(8): Eric Reid, San Francisco
    1(32): Matt Elam, Baltimore
    2(33): Johnathan Cyprien, Jacksonville
    2(57): D.J. Swearinger, Houston
    3(71): T.J. McDonald, St. Louis
    3(80): J.J. Wilcox, Dallas
    3(84): Shawn Williams, Cinncinati
    3(91): Duron Harmon, New England
    4(105): Duke Williams, Buffalo

    If this is how the safety class goes in the 2014 draft, I think it would be a pretty big risk to wait until Rounds 5-7 to look for a "diamond in the rough" who could come in and compete for a starting position as a rookie.

    In my mind, if the Rams do make a trade and acquire a pick in the 20-40 range, that would be the perfect time to look for a safety.

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    Re: Ranking the Safeties

    Quote Originally Posted by tomahawk247 View Post
    To all those advocating that we don't draft a safety high and wait for the later rounds or UDFA, are you happy with Jankins and Johnson having to play 10 yards off the line of scrimmage? Because they are only doing that because our free safety play was not up to scratch

    I want to draft a safety high. #13 would be a good position. I want the team to be able to let JJ and Tru play in the face of the opposition WRs
    Are you willing to spend a draft pick on a player regardless of whether he's worthy of the position in the draft? I'm not. This is not a strong safety class in the draft, so the scouting reports and the evaluations are going to have to figure out if a prospect will blossom into a solid player. Furthermore, how do you think a rookie will perform vs a player who's been playing for several years. A good safety requires knowledge of what angles to take and how to play in space. Those things don't happen immediately, especially in a division playing the WR's we go up against 6x each season.

    Jeff Fisher played the position, he'll know what we can do to improve our pass coverage. In the meantime we can draft players who will make a difference for us as we'll need to improve our wins by at least 3-4 next year to contend for the playoffs.

    Go Rams!

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