Top 10 2025 NFL Draft S Rankings: Malaki Starks, Xavier Nwankpa Rising Stars in the Secondary

Malaki Starks and Andrew Mukuba lead the top preliminary safeties in the 2025 NFL Draft, but Xavier Nwankpa and Keon Sabb have potential.

As we transition to the 2025 NFL Draft cycle, who are the preliminary top 10 safety prospects in the upcoming class? The NFL is due for an infusion of first-round talent at the safety position, and the 2025 group might just have the potential sought at the professional level.

Way-Too-Early Top 10 S Prospects in 2025 NFL Draft

If you count Cooper DeJean as a safety, then the first safety in the 2024 NFL Draft wasn’t selected until the 40th pick. If you view DeJean as a cornerback, you have to go down seven more spots to Tyler Nubin at the 47th overall pick.

Either way, the NFL has gone without a first-round safety for two straight cycles now — ever since Kyle Hamilton, Daxton Hill, and Lewis Cine went in Round 1 of the 2022 NFL Draft. Could that change in 2025? Let’s take a closer look at the preliminary safety list.

10) Hudson Clark, Arkansas

Hudson Clark was a favorite among the PFN Scouting staff during the 2024 NFL Draft cycle. He ended up returning to school after a 2023 campaign that saw him amass 51 tackles, 4.5 tackles for loss, a half-sack, an interception, and four bass breakups — but he’s still a name to know in 2025.

Though he’ll be a 24-year-old rookie, Clark has the positional and phase versatility to be an asset for an NFL team early on in his career. The 6’2″, 190-pound defender has experience at cornerback, but he’s also an explosive and instinctive presence at the safety spot.

9) Billy Bowman, Oklahoma

The 2025 NFL Draft safety class is filled to the brim with playmakers, but few are more natural or prolific than Oklahoma’s Billy Bowman. In high school, Bowman racked up 1,207 yards and 15 scores as a wide receiver in his senior year. Now, he’s making the same kinds of plays — but stop opposing quarterbacks from throwing the ball.

In 2023, Bowman accumulated 63 tackles, three TFLs, four pass breakups, and six interceptions. Those interceptions went for 238 combined yards, and three went for touchdowns. At 5’10”, 191 pounds, Bowman is a bit undersized — but he’s a turnover threat of the highest degree.

8) Jeremiah Cooper, Iowa State

Though Bowman is one of the superlative playmakers in the 2025 class, he doesn’t have a patent on ball production. Iowa State’s Jeremiah Cooper is right there with him after a 2023 campaign that saw him register five interceptions and 10 pass deflections.

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At 6’0″, 185 pounds, Cooper flashes elite explosiveness and closing speed when he’s able to recognize and trigger on passes. He also brings very willing physicality as a support defender. His tackling form is a work in progress, but he’s a natural in coverage.

7) Jeffrey Bassa, Oregon

In a class dominated by playmakers in coverage, Jeffrey Bassa stands out as an especially appealing prospect for teams in need of a hybrid box safety and formidable support presence. At 6’2″, 230 pounds, Bassa has the size to blend the line between positions.

NFL teams will like Bassa’s versatility and tenacious zeal, but even more comforting is how quickly he acclimated at the college level. He was a two-way high school player who was an immediate defensive contributor as a true freshman in Oregon’s defense.

6) Jonas Sanker, Virginia

Beyond the top few safety prospects, the 2025 NFL Draft safety class is wide open — and Virginia’s Jonas Sanker is a sleeper who could throw a wrench in the rankings later on. The 6’1″, 210-pound senior amassed 107 tackles, four TFLs, 11 PBUs, three FFs, and two FRs in 2023.

As his production shows across the board, Sanker is a defender who’s always engaged and a factor — in both the run and pass phases. While he has the size and fluidity to manage space in two-high, he’s also shown he can play the slot on a situational basis.

5) Keon Sabb, Alabama

The Alabama Crimson Tide may have lost Caleb Downs through the transfer portal, but they gained an exciting young player on the ascent in Keon Sabb. At Michigan in 2023, Sabb notched 28 tackles, a half-sack, two picks, a pick-six, and five pass breakups.

At around 6’1″, 200 pounds, Sabb has the frame and linear explosiveness to excel as an attacker — both in the box and overtop crossing routes from two-high. He’s not quite as versatile in man as other safeties, but his range and physicality could bode well.

4) Rod Moore, Michigan

There’s an unfortunate caveat with Rod Moore on this list. The Michigan standout tore his ACL in spring practices and will likely miss the 2024 season. He has eligibility remaining, so he could ultimately return to school in 2025 — but until it’s confirmed, we’ll keep him in the 2025 draft class and rank him according to his standing when healthy.

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Moore is one of the better “football players” in not just the safety class but the defensive class as a whole. The 6’0″, 185-pound defender can play two-high or nickel and has extremely impressive football IQ, route recognition, corrective twitch, and closing burst.

3) Xavier Nwankpa, Iowa

The Iowa Hawkeyes may have lost DeJean in the 2024 NFL Draft cycle, but there’s still plenty of talent worth watching in the team’s secondary. Sebastian Castro is one of our top preliminary slot cornerbacks, and Xavier Nwankpa is a rising star at the safety spot.

You rarely come across a complete three-level safety with a center-fielder’s range, but the 6’2″, 210-pound Nwankpa might just fit that profile. His playmaking ability is an obvious plus, but he also has exciting role versatility and presence in the support phase.

2) Andrew Mukuba, Texas

Andrew Mukuba was one of my higher-rated safety prospects heading into the 2023 season. At around 5’11”, 185 pounds, his all-encompassing versatility stood out. While he has room to refine his technique and applied physicality, his upside is nearly unmatched.

Coverage utility, in its purest form, comes from movement and transition freedom, and that’s where Mukuba has most safeties beat. Whether he’s lined up at nickel, in two-high, or single-high, he has the explosiveness, agility, elastic motion, and speed to erase windows.

1) Malaki Starks, Georgia

The race to be the top safety in the 2025 NFL Draft could end up being a close one. However, heading into the 2024 college football campaign, the top safety on the PFN preliminary board is Georgia’s Malaki Starks — who could be in for a career year.

At 6’1″, 205 pounds, Starks was a five-star recruit, whose elite playmaking instincts have translated seamlessly to the college game. Through two seasons, he has five INTs and 14 PBUs — and he’s also a physical tackler and support presence.

Honorable Mentions

  • Kamren Fabiculanan, Washington
  • Malik Verdon, Iowa State
  • C.J. Baskerville, Texas Tech
  • Malik Dixon-Williams, UConn
  • Xavier Watts, Notre Dame
  • Kobe Savage, Oklahoma
  • Jahdae Barron, Texas
  • Akili Arnold, USC
  • Sean Brown, NC State
  • LaMiles Brooks, Georgia Tech

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Other 2025 NFL Draft Position Rankings

Check out our other way-too-early position rankings for the 2025 NFL Draft:

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