With the 2018 NFL draft on tap this week, PFW offers a capsule look at each position. Today we look at the safeties.
Patriots need: New England returns its impressive safety front line depth that includes proven veterans Devin McCourty, Patrick Chung and Duron Harmon, with Chung having signed an extension to stick around. The Patriots also have depth/special teams pieces in Nate Ebner and Jordan Richards, while David Jones is a practice squader to watch moving forward. So safety is far from one of the team's biggest needs, but with the aging talent atop the depth chart there could be room for a developmental body for the future.
High-end options: There are probably three safeties with a chance to go in the first round - Florida State's Derwin James, Stanford's Justin Reid and Alabama's Ronnie Harrison. Reid is impressive both physically and mentally, sounding more like a coach than a player when talking schemes at the Combine. James is an elite athlete in the mold of the modern player at the position, whileHarrison may be the best football player in the group with a physical style. Regardless, given other needs it wouldn't be the most likely scenario to see Bill Belichick pull the trigger on a safety in the first round. But, it can't be ruled out.
Mid-round value: The depth of the safety class of 2018 isn't great. Penn State's Troy Apkemade a name for himself with a blazing 40 at the Combine and uses that speed to close on plays in game action. Virginia Tech's Terrell Edmunds has impressive measurables and versatile upside for the back end. Louisiana's Tracy Walker plays with an aggressive style and has enough speed to at least be an option in the kicking game, while Texas' DeShon Elliotis more of a physical presence at the position.
Prediction: Though some have mocked Reidto the Patriots late in the first round, that may not be ideal value given the team's needs. More likely is a mid-round pick on a safety to see action first on special teams with a chance to earn more defensive action down the road. Edmunds has a lot of skills to like with that goal in mind.