3 Draft Prospects for 2017 to Watch: Safety

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See These Safety Draft Prospects Play Saturday.

One thing is obvious when you watch the Detroit Lions defense this season, they lack playmakers. So far this season the Lions have one interception. A position that the Lions could look to add a playmaker is safety.

It is unlikely the team would move on from safety Glover Quin so the player they would look to replace would be Tavon Wilson. Wilson is not the worst safety in the world, however he certainly isn’t the best. Wilson recorded 4 interceptions in his rookie year while playing for the New England Patriots in 2012.

Since 2012, Wilson has recorded only one interception. It is possible that the Lions will look to add a talented playmaker to take over Wilson’s job in the 2017 draft. And if the team does go in that direction there will be some very good players to choose from. Three of those potential options are Michigan’s Jabrill Peppers, LSU’s Jamal Adams, and Alabama’s Eddie Jackson. All three of these guys have the potential to really help the Lions defense.

2017 Draft Class- Safety Prospect Options:

Jabrill Peppers-Michigan

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Jabrill Peppers is a very interesting player. He has played so many positions at Michigan it is hard to keep track. The redshirt sophomore has lined up at cornerback, safety, linebacker, punt/kicker returner, and even has played a little bit of offense. This season in Ann Arbor he is mainly lining up as a linebacker.

However at the next level he projects to fit best as a safety. At 6’1″ and 205 pounds he looks the part of an NFL safety. The most intriguing thing about Peppers as a prospect is his athleticism. He has very good speed and is very strong for a guy his size. Also he has very good instincts, he finds the ball-carrier and gets to him in a hurry and he is a reliable tackler when he gets there. Peppers loves to show off his physicality and play at the line of scrimmage.  He does a great job of fighting through blocks. Something else that Peppers brings to the table is dynamic punt return skills.

One thing that Peppers needs to get better at is he sometimes gets too grabby in pass coverage, he won’t get away with that as much in the NFL. He sometimes gets caught flat-footed in pass coverage which allows receivers to get past him. So far in his college career, Peppers’ stats won’t blow anybody away.

In 2015, he totaled 45 tackles (34 solo, 11 assisted) and  5.5 tackles for loss. And so far in 2016 through the first 5 games, Peppers has racked up 33 tackles (24 solo, 9 assisted). As long as Peppers keeps the pace he is at now his 2016 stats are going to be much better than his stats in 2015. However Peppers needs to do a better job creating turnovers. He has yet to record an interception in his career, and that is disappointing for a guy with the amount of talent that he possesses.

Some good games to check out Peppers in actions are:@ Michigan State, October 29th; @ Ohio State, November 26th.

Jamal Adams-LSU

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Jamal Adams is the most polished safety of the three mentioned in this article. The junior has two years of experience under his belt. He has the size teams are looking for at the safety position at 6’1″ and 213 pounds. So far in his college career, Adams has been very impressive.

He isn’t as versatile as Jabrill Peppers but he can line up at slot corner and handle receivers. Also, he is physical enough to be able to handle most tight ends. He has great awareness which usually means he is always around the football. The LSU safety also does a great job against the run, he sets the edge well and can get off blocks to get to the ball-carrier.

Another thing about Adams is that he plays the game with a lot of passion and energy. There aren’t many things that Adams doesn’t do well, however one thing he can work on is sometimes he struggles to find his balance before reaching ball-carriers. Which leads to occasional missed tackles.

Jamal Adams has had a productive career. In 2014 as a freshman he had 66 tackles (38 solo, 28 assisted) and 5 tackles for loss. In 2015, his first season as a full time starter, he had 67 tackles (48 solo, 19 assisted), 5.5 tackles for loss, 4 interceptions, and a forced fumble. Through 5 games in 2016, he has recorded 34 tackles (19 solo, 15 assisted).

A couple games to see Adams for yourself are: vs. Alabama, November 5th; @ Texas A&M, November 24th.

Eddie Jackson, Alabama

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Of the three safeties in this article, Eddie Jackson does the best job of creating turnovers. Jackson is a little lighter than most NFL teams would like their safety to be at 6’0″ and 194 pounds. The senior started his career at Alabama as a cornerback. He played well enough as a corner to make 14 starts for the Crimson Tide during his freshman and sophomore years. Then in Jackson’s junior year in 2015, he was switched to the safety position.

Since becoming a safety Jackson has looked like a natural at the position. He has great instincts and reads quarterbacks well. He is very good in pass coverage and can still be trusted to play corner when asked. Jackson is a reliable tackler but doesn’t deliver any bone-crushing hits like some teams like their safety to do. The biggest downside to Jackson’s game is he lacks the physicality that NFL teams prefer in the safety position. Because of this, he doesn’t fight through blockers very well and struggles against bigger receivers at times. It’s possible that Jackson could add some weight to his frame, which would help him be able to be more physical.

In 2013, as a cornerback, Jackson had 19 tackles (16 solo, 3 assisted) and 2 interceptions. During his sophomore season in 2014, also at cornerback, he recorded 37 tackles (29 solo, 8 assisted), an interception, and a forced fumble. In his first year as a safety in 2015 he racked up 46 tackles (34 solo, 12 assisted), 6 interceptions, and a forced fumble. So far in 2016 (through 5 games), he has logged 14 tackles (10 solo, 4 assisted) and an interception. The 10 interceptions that Jackson recorded show that his greatest skill is his ability to bait quarterbacks. Not only does he bait quarterbacks into making certain throws, he has the ball skills to make quarterbacks pay for their mistakes.

Two good games to check out Eddie Jackson are: @ Tennessee, October 15th; vs. Texas A&M, October 22nd.

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About the Author

Cory Hayes
I attend Central Michigan University, I am majoring in Journalism and minoring in Sport Management. I am a junior. I am from Marysville, MI. I love following sports, both professional and collegiate. I follow the Lions, Pistons, and Tigers very closely, and the college team that I choose to cheer for is Ohio State.