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Does a Safeties' Versatility Affect Placement in the NFL Draft? 

0423 On the 24 Safeties

JACKSONVILLE – Some years are very, very good in the NFL Draft for safeties. Other years, not so much.

This appears to be one of the latter years.

"The safety class is not great this year," ESPN analyst Field Yates said.

Certainly not at the top, with no safeties generally projected to be selected in the first round of the 2024 NFL Draft. But while that's true, most analysts believe there are quality players – and potential starters – in the mid-to-late rounds for a position that continues to undergo change in a pass-oriented era.

With the era increasingly featuring more multiple defensive-back packages as opposed to the traditional two-safety looks of past eras, teams now call upon safeties to be more versatile.

"The game is changing where you should have a bunch of Swiss-Army knives at the position," NFL Media/Jaguars analyst Bucky Brooks said.

That change hasn't always excluded safeties from Round 1.

While safety rarely has been a premium draft position, there are years a player or two – or more – will merit first-round selections. That has been true at times in recent seasons, with Kyle Hamilton being selected No. 14 overall by the Baltimore Ravens in the 2022 NFL Draft and Jamal Adams being selected No. 6 overall by the New York Jets in 2017.

The late Sean Taylor was the lone safety selected in the Top 5 since 1992 when the Washington Football Team selected him No. 5 overall in the 2004 NFL Draft.

American safety Javon Bullard (22) during the second half of the Senior Bowl NCAA college football game, Saturday, Feb. 3, 2024, in Mobile, Ala. (AP Photo/ Butch Dill)

Safeties Tyler Nubin of Minnesota, Javon Bullard of Georgia, Cole Bishop of Utah and Calen Bullock of Southern California have been projected by many analysts as second-round selections this year, with Jaden Hicks of Washington State, Kamren Kinchens of Miami, Dadrion Taylor-Demerson of Texas Tech and Tykee Smith of Georgia projected shortly thereafter.

"It's a pretty good safety class," Brooks said, "but I think the difference with the class, they are guys that take the ball away. So, you're talking about coverage safety. These guys are centerfield guys that have a ton of interceptions throughout their career."

And while the position may not be loaded with early-round selections, many analysts believe it's good enough throughout that teams can find contributors after Day 1.

"We've seen a lot of safeties released this offseason," Yates said. "That might be a position where the is saying, 'We can find starters right now in the college ranks.'"


This seems likely to be a quiet area for the Jaguars during the '24 draft. While the team released veteran Rayshawn Jenkins – a three-year starter -- shortly before the March 13 start of the 2024 NFL League Year, and while the Jaguars figure to use more multiple-safety looks under new defensive coordinator Ryan Nielsen, the team moved to get deeper at an already deep position early in unrestricted free agency. That move came with the signing of Darnell Savage Jr., a first-round selection by the Green Bay Packers in the 2019 NFL Draft who started 69 of 72 games played for Green Bay in four seasons. Andre Cisco, a third-round selection by the Jaguars in the '21 draft, figures to start next season, with Savage and second-year veteran Antonio Johnson – a fifth-round '23 selection by the Jaguars – playing starting and nickel roles. With the Jaguars likely in nickel looks extensively, veteran special teams/reserve Andrew Wingard also figures to have a key role at times in the defense. This is an area in which the Jaguars could draft for depth, but they don't figure to be active here in the early rounds.

--John Oehser


Essentially none.


On the roster:

  • Andre Cisco
  • Antonio Johnson
  • Darnell Savage
  • Andrew Wingard
  • Daniel Thomas


  1. Tyler Nubin, senior, Minnesota
  2. Javon Bullard, junior, Georgia
  3. Calen Bullock, junior, Southern California
  4. Kamren Kinchens, junior, Miami
  5. Tykee Smith, senior, Georgia


None likely.

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