LSU’s Grant Delpit is elite. However, the 2020 NFL Draft safety class may be lacking behind him.
In just a few weeks, the greatest safety to ever play the game, Ed Reed, will be inducted into the NFL Hall of Fame. Great safeties are not easy to come by, but like Reed, those type of players keep opposing offensive coordinators up at night. What made Reed special was his ability to cover an astonishing amount of space, his knack for the football and his mental awareness.
This is not a prediction but a spoiler: there is NOT an Ed Reed in the 2020 NFL draft. However, there is an extraordinary player from Louisiana State University that has the tools to become one of the league’s best safeties. His name is Grant Delpit. Other than Delpit, the class leaves a lot to be desired.
As it relates to the safety position, the 2020 NFL draft class lacks depth and doesn’t have high-quality players outside the top-5 players at the position. LSU’s Grant Delpit is elite. However, the 2020 draft-eligible safety class isn’t something to be excited over. To summarize, if you need a safety and plan to address that need in the 2020 NFL draft, you better take one early.
Before we look at the 2020 group, let’s take a glance at my rankings for the last few safety draft classes.
- Malik Hooker (Ohio State)
- Jamal Adams (LSU)
- Jabrill Peppers (Michigan)
- Eddie Jackson (Alabama)
- Budda Baker (Washington)
- Minkah Fitzpatrick (Alabama)
- Derwin James (Florida State)
- Ronnie Harrison (Alabama)
- Justin Reid (Stanford)
- Jessie Bates (Wake Forest)
- Taylor Rapp (Washington)
- Nasir Adderley (Delaware)
- Deionte Thompson (Alabama)
- Chauncey Gardner-Johnson (Florida)
- Jonathan Abram (Mississippi State)
5. Brandon Jones (Texas)
Weight: 205 lbs.
Brandon Jones was a five-star recruit coming from Nacogdoches High School in Texas and the top-ranked safety in the nation. He was recruited by Chris Vaughn and ultimately committed to going to Austin to be a Texas Longhorn.
Jones, a fourth-year safety, has 23 starts during his career at Texas. It was a welcomed surprise when Jones announced he was returning to school for his senior season.
In the first place, Jones has ideal size for the safety position and is battle-tested. He is an incredible athlete, giving him the ability to drop into coverage and make plays on the ball. In addition to being an incredible athlete, Jones is a physical player that offers strong support in the run game.
My colleague here at Pro Football Network, AJ Schulte, does a great job chronicling Jones’ rise to stardom at Texas in his article 2020 NFL Draft: Texas safety Brandon Jones has elite potential, which is worth a read.
If I take a look into the crystal ball, I see Jones securing a top-50 selection when it comes to the 2020 NFL draft.
4. Richard LeCounte (Georgia)
Weight: 190 lbs.
Richard LeCounte III hails from Riceboro, Georgia, where he had a brilliant football career at Liberty County High School.
He enters his third season in Athens, and expectations are high. LeCounte attacks the football like he is shot out of a cannon. He possesses sideline-to-sideline speed and always seems to be around the ball. It seems clear that LeCounte is a natural leader being a vocal, motivating teammate and a tireless worker.
However, he isn’t the perfect prospect. There are things that LeCounte will have to work on to elevate himself as a draft prospect. Most notably, he needs to improve his technique, as he misses far too many tackles.
With that said, the arrow is pointing up for LeCounte, and with a solid 2019 campaign, he is likely an early day two pick in the 2020 NFL draft.
3. J.R. Reed (Georgia)
Weight: 195 lbs.
J.R. Reed transferred from Tulsa to Georgia after the 2015 season. Due to this, Reed had to sit out the 2016 season per NCAA rules.
He is not the athlete that his teammate Richard LeCounte is, however, he plays with far better technique and an enhanced ability to diagnose offenses. Similar to LeCounte, Reed has a non-stop motor and is not hesitant to lay the lumber.
Where Reed excels is his ability to read-and-react. His football IQ is off the charts, and he has a strong grasp of his assignments. Reed won’t win any “workout warrior” title, as he is an ordinary athlete. With that said, Reed will be a reliable player at the next level and should hear his name called on day two of the 2020 NFL draft.
2. Xavier McKinney (Alabama)
Weight: 199 lbs.
Xavier McKinney was recruited to Tuscaloosa by Derrick Ansley after a brilliant career at Roswell High School. McKinney is a versatile chess piece, that has an arsenal of traits that make him a future first-round draft selection.
First, when you watch McKinney, you can tell he is a true student of the game. He plays with great technique and attention to detail. Second, like former teammate Minkah Fitzpatrick, McKinney offers tremendous versatility. He can line up at either safety position and even slot cornerback. Finally, McKinney is a gifted athlete with excellent closing speed and tremendous footwork.
For the reasons mentioned above, and an anticipated strong 2019 season, McKinney could wind up being a top-20 selection in the 2020 NFL draft.
1. Grant Delpit (LSU)
Weight: 203 lbs.
After a decorated career at IMG Academy in Houston, Texas, Grant Delpit committed to Louisiana State University. In 2018, Delpit made his mark as one of the best defensive players in all of college football. He accounted for 74 tackles, five sacks, nine passes defended and five interceptions.
The first thing you notice with Delpit is his tremendous size for the position. Standing at 6’3″, Delpit looks like Tarzan and plays like him as well. He is truly a jack-of-all-trades, as he offers incredible range allowing him to fly across the field in coverage and make plays at the line of scrimmage on the ball. In today’s NFL, physical specimens like Delpit can make an immediate impact. The Chargers all-world safety, Derwin James, is case-and-point.
When the dust settles, Grant Delpit will be a top-five selection in the 2020 NFL draft. From there, it won’t take him long to elevate into one of the best defensive backs in the NFL.
2020 NFL Draft: Safety Rankings
|1||Grant Delpit||SAF||LSU||JR||6″3||203 lbs.|
|2||Xavier McKinney||SAF||Alabama||JR||6″1||199 lbs.|
|3||JR Reed||SAF||Georgia||SR||6″1||195 lbs.|
|4||Richard LeCounte||SAF||Georgia||JR||5″11||190 lbs.|
|5||Brandon Jones||SAF||Texas||SR||6″0||205 lbs.|
|6||Shyheim Carter||SAF||Alabama||SR||6″0||195 lbs.|
|7||David Dowell||SAF||Michigan State||SR||6″1||197 lbs.|
|8||Jordan Fuller||SAF||Ohio State||SR||6″2||204 lbs.|
|9||Antoine Brooks||SAF||Maryland||SR||5″11||210 lbs.|
|10||Alohi Gilman||SAF||Notre Dame||SR||5″11||203 lbs.|
|11||Tanner Muse||SAF||Clemson||SR||6″3||225 lbs.|
|12||Nigel Warrior||SAF||Tennessee||SR||6″0||191 lbs.|
|13||K’Von Wallace||SAF||Clemson||SR||5″11||210 lbs.|
|14||Reggie Floyd||SAF||Virginia Tech||SR||6″0||222 lbs.|
|15||Larry Pryor||SAF||Texas A&M||SR||6″0||212 lbs.|
|16||Jeremiah Dinson||SAF||Auburn||SR||6″0||195 lbs.|
|17||Josh Metellus||SAF||Michigan||SR||6″0||205 lbs.|
|18||Garrett Taylor||SAF||Penn State||SR||6″0||204 lbs.|
|19||Daniel Thomas||SAF||Auburn||SR||5″11||207 lbs.|
|20||Richie Grant||SAF||UCF||SR||6″0||194 lbs.|
|21||Denzel Goolsby||SAF||Kansas State||SR||5″11||205 lbs.|
|22||Jalen Elliot||SAF||Notre Dame||SR||6″1||210 lbs.|
|23||Henry Black||SAF||Baylor||SR||6″0||209 lbs.|
|24||David Leisring||SAF||Dayton||SR||6″1||200 lbs.|
|25||Jaylinn Hawkins||SAF||California||SR||6″2||205 lbs.|
|26||Javin White||SAF||Nevada||SR||6″3||205 lbs.|
|27||Ashtyn Davis||SAF||California||SR||6″1||195 lbs.|