NFL Draft: Top Five Safeties

Story posted April 15, 2018 in Sports, CommRadio by Joseph Esquivel-Murphy

Joe Esquivel-Murphy, Joe Skinner and Hunter Pitcoff discuss the top safties in the 2018 NFL draft class:

While not as highly valued as cornerbacks, safeties are an integral part of a secondary. Their ability to play centerfield, but also be a factor in the run game is something that NFL teams value.

This year’s safety class might be one of the deepest in recent memory, with the top two prospects potentially going in the top 10. Below are the top five safeties in the upcoming draft.

1. Derwin James FSU RS SO
The decision for the top safety spot has been up for debate since the end of the college football season as James and Alabama’s Minkah Fitzpatrick have separated themselves from the pack. The Florida State product gets the edge due to his superior size and athleticism as James’ 4.47 40-yard dash was only a hundredth of a second slower than Fitzpatrick’s.

His injury history might scare teams away from taking him too high, but his ability to make plays at the line of scrimmage is unmatched by anyone in this draft. His combination of size, athleticism and playmaking ability give him the potential to be a perennial Pro Bowler and All-Pro.

2.  Minkah Fitzpatrick ALA JR
In most draft classes, the junior from Alabama would be the clear-cut top prospect at the safety position. His versatility to play either corner or safety allows for defensive coordinators to put him anywhere on the field and his four defensive touchdowns prove that he can make plays in space.

His football IQ separates him from the rest of the field as Fitzpatrick devoured the playbook under Nick Saban. His size, speed and coverage ability will be valued on draft night and should join James in the Pro Bowl and All-Pro teams.

3. Justin Reid STAN JR
The brother of former first round pick Eric Reid, Justin Reid shares some of the same characteristics that made his older brother a top 20 pick in 2013. His ability to make plays on the ball is evident as he recorded 99 tackles, five interceptions and six pass break-ups in 2017.

Reid has great cover skills and speed to match up with either tight ends or receivers in the slot. Like Fitzpatrick, his versatility projects well for the NFL and could be more successful than his brother at the next level.

4. Jessie Bates WAKE RS JR
Bates is one of the best athletes at the position as he ran a 4.5 40 and had a vertical jump of 35.5 inches. His quick instincts and recognition allow him to fly to the ball to make the tackle.

He does not possess the largest frame in this year’s draft, but is capable of making plays against bigger running backs and tight ends. Bates has the ability to play from the start and will impact any team that drafts him.

5. Ronnie Harrison ALA JR
The second Alabama safety to make the top five, Harrison is the big hitter in the back of Saban’s defense. He can be a little over zealous in trying to make the big hit, but takes good angles to the football.

His cover skills are good enough for the next level and has the makeup speed to track down ball carriers. Harrison is the boom or bust prospect in this draft with the potential to be a Pro Bowler or be consistently benched for missed tackles.



Joseph Esquivel-Murphy is a senior majoring in broadcast journalism and Spanish. To contact him, email

About the Contributors

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Joe Esquivel-Murphy

Senior / Broadcast Journalism

Joe Esquivel-Murphy is a senior from Bay Head, NJ, majoring in broadcast journalism and Spanish. He has done play-by-play and beat writes for almost all the sports from CommRadio.  His two talk shows, Murph’s Lounge and Road to Russia, covered various different topics as the later previewed the qualification process to the World Cup with the former discussing relevant sports events. Joe also had an internship for Shore Sports Network (an affiliate of Town Square Media) before his junior year. To contact Joe, email him at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address).

Joe Skinner's photo

Joe Skinner

Junior / Broadcast Journalism

Joe is from South Riding, VA and has play-by-play experience in football, soccer, lacrosse, hockey, volleyball, baseball, and softball.  You can hear Joe on Turning Two, CommRadio’s only MLB talk show, as well.  Joe has hosted and been featured in Game Preview podcasts for football and basketball, Around the Big Ten podcasts for football and basketball, as well as other CommRadio podcasts and production roles.  Joe is interested in broadcasting play-by-play for a national television or radio network in football, basketball, or baseball.  To contact Joe, email him at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address).

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Hunter Pitcoff

Sophomore / Journalism

Hunter Pitcoff is a sophomore who is a member of the sports staff in CommRadio.  Hunter’s experience thus far includes writing articles, hosting podcasts, Play-by-Play, beat writing, and producing.  He also hosts the college basketball show The Shootaround.  Besides his involvement in CommRadio, Hunter is an analyst, host, and editor for the PSNTv show, “Penn State Sports Night”.  In terms of internship, Hunter is currently covering Big 12 Basketball for the website  When Hunter graduates, his ultimate goal would be to have his own television and/or radio show.