JACKSONVILLE – This is a good class, but perhaps not a great one.
That's true when it comes to many areas on defense in the 2021 NFL Draft – and many analysts say it's specifically true of the safety position.
If teams are looking to address safety in the second and third round, analysts say there could be multiple players from whom to select. If they're looking to fill the position in Round 1 or early Round 2, the pool is small and focuses on Trevon Moehrig of Texas Christian.
"The TCU kid is the best," ESPN analyst Mel Kiper Jr. said of the safety position.
Moehrig (6-feet-1, 208 pounds), who forewent his senior season to enter the draft, won the Thorpe Award in 2020 – given to the best defensive back in college football. He is widely considered the best safety in the class.
"You could argue – and I think an accurate argument would be – that he's one of the best defensive players in this draft," Kiper said. "You've got to be able to cover. You have to be able to matchup. And he can do that. He gets from Point A to Point B in a blink. He really diagnoses quickly. He sees things quickly. He reacts instantaneously.''
NFL Media and Jaguars Media analyst Bucky Brooks said while there is "plenty of separation" between Moehrig and the rest of the safety class, Day 2 players include players such as Caden Sterns from Texas, Richie Grant from Central Florida and Hamsah Nasirildeen from Florida State.
"It's hard to find guys who can do it all at the safety position, but there are some players who definitely have the traits to be dynamic and dominant at the position at the NFL level," Brooks said.
HANDICAPPING THE JAGUARS
This absolutely is an area to watch for the Jaguars this weekend, with Moehrig perhaps the player most often projected by analysts to the Jaguars at No. 25 overall in the first round. While the Jaguars have capable veterans at safety – including 2021 free-agent signee Rayshawn Jenkins and 2019-2020 starter Jarrod Wilson – and while Daniel Thomas flashed as a fifth-round rookie last season, a dynamic playmaker could be added in the draft. The need doesn't appear so great that the team must reach for the position or trade up to get an immediate starter, but a player such as Moehrig could immediately add needed big-play potential to a position where the Jaguars have lacked that the past two seasons.
PROJECTED FIRST-ROUND SAFETIES
Trevon Moehrig, Texas Christian; Richie Grant, Central Florida.
BROOKS BREAKS DOWN THE CLASS
The 2021 draft has plenty of intriguing options at safety. Although there aren't many blue-chip prospects at the position, the collection of available talent will provide teams with solid starters that could come off the board on Day 2. Moehrig is the headliner of the class as an athletic ballhawk with man-to-man coverage skills and a high football IQ. Oregon's Jevon Holland, Syracuse's Andre Cisco, and Grant are playmakers with instincts and ball skills. Nasirildeen and Virginia Tech's Divine Deablo are thumpers built to play down near the box.
Indiana's Jamar Johnson is the underrated safety prospect in the class with the potential to emerge as a difference-maker as a pro. The 6-feet-1, 196-pounder is a versatile defender capable of playing in the post or near the line of scrimmage. Johnson displays the instincts, awareness, burst and aggressiveness to be effective on blitzes off the edge or as an open-field tackler in space. With the gritty defender also flashing instincts, awareness and range as a zone defender, the Indiana standout could emerge as a frontline starter early in his career.
Trevon Moehrig is the new prototype at the position as a playmaking safety with the capacity to cover slot receivers in man coverage. He moves like a corner but thumps like a linebacker in space. He is a rare safety with a solid all-around game that enables him to play three positions (free safety, strong safety and nickel corner) in a creative defense. For teams looking for a dynamic playmaker at the position, Moehrig is the top target in the class.
POSITION RANKING: Seven of 10.
CHANCES JAGUARS TAKE A SAFETY IN ROUND 1
Relatively high, with Moehrig mocked to the Jaguars by many analysts in recent weeks.
SAFETIES ON THE JAGUARS ROSTER
Rayshawn Jenkins, Jarrod Wilson, Rudy Ford, Josh Jones, Daniel Thomas, Andrew Wingard.