The Lions May Need To Draft Depth At Safety This Offseason.
The Lions have had solid safety play in 2016. Tavon Wilson and Rafael Bush have both stepped up and played well. Even rookie Miles Killebrew has helped out when needed.
Safety won’t be the biggest need for the Lions on draft day, it’s possible that they could try to add a talented playmaking safety if the right situation presents itself.
2017 Draft Class: Safety Part Two
The upcoming draft class looks like it could be pretty decent when it comes to safeties. Some of that depends on whether or not Ohio State safety Malik Hooker declares for the draft. The redshirt sophomore has stated that he plans on coming back next season. However his mind could change after his season ends and he gets a chance to closer analyze the situation. He’s projected as a first round picks by most so there is no reason for him to stay at Ohio State for another year.
The three safeties this article will examine are Hooker, Washington’s Budda Baker, and Texas A&M’s Justin Evans.
Malik Hooker- Ohio State
Hooker has only one season of playing experience but in that season he has shown a ton of potential. He has good size at 6’2” and 205 pounds.
In his one season as a starter, the redshirt sophomore has 67 tackles, five tackles for loss, six interceptions (three for a touchdown) and four pass defenses.
If Hooker does indeed declare for the draft NFL teams will absolutely love his playmaking ability. He has exceptional ball skills and great range. Ohio State mainly asks him to patrol centerfield. His athleticism allows him to make plays all over the field.
Against the run Hooker closes quickly on ball-carriers and is a solid tackler for the most part.
The biggest weakness for Hooker is that he’s still kind of raw. He still has some room to grow and although he probably will get better with time you never know how players will develop. This won’t hurt Hooker too much though because of the amount of talent he’s already shown.
Hooker and the rest of the Ohio State Buckeyes will take on Deshaun Watson and the talented Clemson Tiger offense on December 31st for a chance to move on to the national championship.
Budda Baker- Washington
Baker is a very versatile safety who played a major role in Washington’s success this season. He stands 5’10” and weighs around 190 pounds so he’s smaller than most NFL teams would like.
The junior has played 38 career games. In that time he’s recorded 193 tackles, 12 tackles for loss, five interceptions, 17 pass defenses and three forced fumbles.
Washington asks Baker to do a variety of things, he plays free safety but also spends a lot of time as a slot corner as well. He doesn’t often give up easy catches and he reads routes well. Baker is a very good athlete.
Although he is small he plays much bigger than his size. He’s physical and wraps up and makes sound tackles. Also he takes good angles to track down ball-carriers as well.
The biggest knock on Baker is his size. Scouts may worry that if he continues his physical style of play at the next level he could end up being hurt.
Washington plays Alabama December 31st for a spot to play in the national championship.
Justin Evans- Texas A&M
Evans has pretty average size for a safety at 6’0” and 200 pounds. He is a senior who transferred to Texas A&M from Mississippi Gulf Coast Community College after his sophomore season. In his two seasons at Texas A&M he has 165 tackles, six tackles for loss, five interceptions and 11 pass defenses.
The first thing that jumps out about Evans is that he loves delivering big hits. He’s good at closing on the ball and attacking whoever happens to be carrying it. NFL teams will like Evans physicality.
In pass coverage Evans is pretty solid as well. He shows good range and does a good job of making plays on the ball when he has the chance.
One negative about Evans is that he doesn’t always wrap up when he’s going for a tackle. He goes in with with his shoulder and tries to deliver the big hit instead of making a good form tackle. He will need to fix that in order to be a consistent tackler at the next level.
Texas A&M has already played their bowl game so Evans college career is over. He will participate in the Senior Bowl on January 28th.