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2013 NFL Draft: Kenny Vaccaro, John Cyprien head safety class

Posted Apr 8, 2013

With the 2013 NFL Draft set for April 25-27 at Radio City Music Hall in New York, NFL.com draft analyst Josh Norris is identifying the top prospects available at every position. Today, he presents an overview of the best safeties.

With the 2013 NFL Draft set for April 25-27 at Radio City Music Hall in New York, NFL.com draft analyst Josh Norris is identifying the top prospects available at every position. Today, he presents an overview of the best safeties.

1. Kenny Vaccaro, Texas: With NFL offenses implementing mismatch receiving options more and more, Vaccaro is the type of player defenses covet. Just turn on Texas' game against West Virginia to see Vaccaro match up very well against an electric slot playmaker in Tavon Austin. Projection: First round

2. John Cyprien, Florida International: While at FIU, Cyprien almost strictly played close to the line of scrimmage, consistently displaying a physical mentality when attacking ball carriers and tight ends. However, he has enough range to be an interchangeable safety and times his angles very well to disrupt the catch point. Projection: First round

3. D.J. Swearinger, South Carolina: When Swearinger makes a tackle, the pass catcher really feels it. He needs to finish assignments while playing under control on a more consistent basis. In addition to his work at safety, Swearinger shows some nice versatility when lining up at corner. Projection: Top 50

4. Bacarri Rambo, Georgia: Many teams have searched for interchangeable safeties in the hopes of adding more versatility to their defense. Rambo is strictly a center-field, ball-hawking free safety, but he fills that role very well and would complement any strong safety who thrives moving toward the line of scrimmage. Projection: Second round

5. J.J. Wilcox, Georgia Southern: A former running back and receiver, Wilcox is willing to mix it up and get physical when closing on ball carriers. There are certainly some technique issues at this time, but I only expect Wilcox to improve his game moving forward. Projection: Third round

6. Shamarko Thomas, Syracuse: Comparisons have been made between Thomas and Bob Sanders, and although that is lofty praise, some flashes do exist. He's a missile closing on ball carriers and delivers punishment on first contact. But when asked to flip his hips and turn downfield, glimpses of tightness show up. Projection: Third round

7. Matt Elam, Florida: Few players put together a better highlight reel than Elam. He and Thomas are somewhat similar in that they possess less than ideal size for the strong safety position, but I feel more comfortable with Thomas' tackling and positioning consistency on a play-by-play basis. Projection: Second round

8. Josh Evans, Florida: The yin to Elam's yang, Evans played further away from the line of scrimmage, but was forced to clean up a lot of tackles with great technique. Because of his height, Evans plays a bit high, but he works through trash quite well. Projection: Fourth round

9. Earl Wolff, N.C. State: Wolff doesn't specialize in one specific area, but as the last line of defense, he is a very reliable tackler. When plays drift toward the edge, Wolff knifes through blockers to stop ball carriers' momentum. Projection: Fourth round

10. Phillip Thomas, Fresno State: After recovering from a broken leg that sidelined him for most of the 2011 season, Thomas rebounded in a big way. Like Rambo, the Fresno State safety thrives as a center fielder, but he fails to finish when closing in space, leading to plenty of missed tackles. Projection: Fourth round



Like to do your own draft scouting? We have prospect highlight videos of all the top players entering the 2013 NFL Draft. Watch them now in our Draft section.