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2021 NFL Draft: BTSC Steelers Big Board, Safeties

Ranking and analyzing the top 23 safeties in the 2021 NFL Draft

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NCAA Football: Texas Christian at Oklahoma State Brett Rojo-USA TODAY Sports

We’ve finally reached the last positional installment of the BTSC Big Board, going over the top safeties in this year’s draft class. This won’t be the final edition of the board, as we still plan on releasing a top 100 as well as some content during the draft itself — but before we go on I’d like to thank Andrew Wilbar (steelerfan11), SNW, Itz JustNoah, and Necksnation for their work on the board. We wouldn’t have been able to profile the 288 players that we did without everyone’s incredible work.

You can check out the first eleven installments of the board here: Quarterbacks, Running Backs, Wide Receivers (Part 1), Wide Receivers (Part 2), Tight Ends, Interior Offensive Line, Offensive Tackles, Interior Defensive Line, Outside Linebackers/EDGE, Inside Linebackers, and Cornerbacks.

And for the twelfth installment, let’s focus on the safety class of 2021.

It’s not particularly strong, lacking a true first round talent or much depth, but this shouldn’t affect the Steelers that much as they don’t need to draft a safety until the later rounds this year, if at all.

But despite not being that strong, there is more variety than usual in this year’s safety class. While prior drafts have been full of safeties with nearly identical skillsets, there’s an even mix of coverage safeties, box safeties, and everything in between this year, including some who are just solid all-around. There’s plenty with late-round grades who could be major steals, as well.

As always, the main rankings are steelerfan11’s, while the analysis is a collaborative effort. SNW’s consensus rankings are an average of where the prospects appeared on big boards (ranking all positions) from other draft websites to see where the prospects stack up elsewhere. The websites, in order, are CBS Sports, Drafttek, ESPN, Mock Draft Database, and Tankathon.

Let’s get to rankings:

1. Trevon Moehrig — #7, Jr, 6’2”, 202 lbs, — TCU
Mid 2nd round grade
Consensus ranking: 23 (25, 17, 15, 30, 28)
2020 season stats: Tackles 47, Sacks 0, Int 2, PD 11, FF 0, FR 0, (10 games)

steelerfan11: Moehrig is the best safety in this class, but not by much. He has some versatility, but he will most likely settle in as a free safety in the NFL. His physicality is what I like most about him. He does not shy away from contact and isn’t afraid to hit hard. He has solid ball skills and good instincts, but his tackling is inconsistent. It seems as if sometimes he will go for the big blow rather than simply wrapping up the ball carrier. Moehrig will likely be a starting free safety in the NFL, but I would not take him until day two.

Ryland B.: I actually like Moehrig more as a strong safety than a free safety — at least from what I’ve seen from him. His tackling isn’t the most consistent, but the energy and physical style of play he has are fantastic. Pair that with his good size and athleticism, you have a very good strong safety if you coach up his flaws. In coverage, Moehrig’s athleticism really shined, but he didn’t seem to have the greatest range or ball skills. Despite some issues, Moehrig has a ton of upside as an NFL safety, and I think he could definitely be a starter in the near future.

2. Richie Grant — #27, Sr, 6’0”, 199 lbs, — UCF
Mid 2nd round grade
Consensus ranking: 84 (NA, 28, 186, 56, 66)
2020 season stats: Tackles 72, Sacks 1, Int 3, PD 0, FF 2, FR 2, (9 games)

steelerfan11: Grant was only a two-star recruit coming out of high school, but he improved each season at UCF. His athleticism is solid but not elite; however, he is a smart player that has good ball awareness, decent instincts, and excellent versatility. He has a nose for the football and does a great job at creating turnovers. He is generally a solid tackler, but becoming more consistent in that area should be one of his goals in his development as a prospect. I expect him to be taken at some point in round 2.

Ryland B.: Grant is a top-tier coverage safety who really stood out in the Senior Bowl. He’s quick and instinctive in coverage with excellent ball skills. As a free safety his play recognition and range isn’t the greatest, but far from a concern. He isn’t the biggest, but still plays very physically and is a surprisingly good tackler. Grant projects best as a safety in the NFL, but he was fairly versatile in college, and I think that in the right scheme he could be a solid slot cornerback.

3. Jevon Holland — #8, Jr, 6’1”, 201 lbs, — Oregon
Late 2nd round grade
Consensus ranking: 57 (52, 59, 59, 54, 61)
2020 season stats: (0 games)
2019 season stats: Tackles 66, Sacks 0, Int 4, PD 4, FF 0, FR 0, (14 games)

Itz JustNoah: Holland is the perfect free safety prospect. He’s athletic, he plays fast, he’s a good open field tackler and his ball skills are phenomenal. His zone coverage is good and he seems to naturally gravitate towards the ball. His man coverage is average at best and his long speed is questionable, but those are the only major flaws in his skill set. I’ve seen some talk about him being a nickelback but I think it’s best for him to stay at safety. I think it goes without saying that Pittsburgh shouldn’t take him in the first round, but I think he could be a decent option at 55. Personally I’d rather wait until the 4th, at the earliest, considering any safety we select would be a backup.

steelerfan11: Holland has the best versatility of any safety in this class. He can play both safety spots as well as nickel cornerback, and I expect the team that drafts him to use him sporadically at each of those positions. Holland opted out of the 2020 season, but he was the leader of the Oregon defense in 2019, accounting for four interceptions and over sixty tackles. Holland has ideal speed and length to excel in man coverage, and he did exactly that in college. He has loose hips and moves fluidly when dropping into zone, but there are a few instances where he would drop too deep or not deep enough. He became much more consistent in 2019 in that department while still displaying his athletic traits and versatility. He was projected to be a top 15 pick before opting out, but his stock has fallen to a probable day two pick. He could be one of the true steals of the draft if he is still on the board after the top 50 picks.

4. Andre Cisco — #7, Jr, 6’0”, 209 lbs, — Syracuse
Late 3rd round grade
Consensus ranking: 59 (63, 44, 69, 59, 58)
2020 season stats: Tackles 11, Sacks 0, Int 1, PD 1, FF 0, FR 0, (2 games)
2019 season stats: Tackles 65, Sacks 0, Int 5, PD 10, FF 1, FR 1, (9 games)

steelerfan11: If you want a guy who is going to create a lot of turnovers, Cisco is your guy. Cisco may be the best safety in the class when it comes to creating turnovers, as he recorded 13 interceptions in his collegiate career. Cisco also has good speed, which helps him cover a lot of ground in the secondary. Injuries are a concern, however, as he suffered a lower body injury during pregame warmups toward the beginning of the year. If he checks out medically, he may go higher than what we think he will. He has a chance to become a solid starting free safety very quickly.

Ryland B.: Cisco has some flaws in his game, but overall he’s a very good free safety prospect. He’s big and athletic, with some of the best ball skills and burst you’ll see out of any safety in this class — as evidenced by his insane interception numbers at Syracuse. But while Cisco is a defensive force in zone, in man coverage he’s more suspect. He’s fast but not particularly quick and got outmaneuvered on routes more often than I like to see. His boom or bust style of coverage led to some big plays being allowed as well. In run support, Cisco isn’t the greatest or most aggressive tackler. There’s some injury issues that will need to be addressed as well. I actually really like Cisco as a prospect, but there’s some big issues in his game that will need to be fixed for him to succeed in the NFL.

5. Talanoa Hufanga — #15, Jr, 6’1”, 215 lbs, — USC
Early 4th round grade
Consensus ranking: 102 (NA, 74, NA, 130, NA)
2020 season stats: Tackles 62, Sacks 3, Int 4, PD 1, FF 2, FR 0, (6 games)

steelerfan11: A couple members of BTSC actually brought this guy to my attention, and his tape did not disappoint. When you throw out his testing numbers and look solely at the tape, you see a guy who looks like a young Troy Polomalu. His physical, downhill style of play is fun to watch, as he strikes fear into opposing ball carriers. He can also blitz, cover, and create turnovers all at high levels. This guy is a true playmaking strong safety, but he is not extremely fluid in coverage at this point. He is also not as fast as he looks. He ran a 4.61 at his pro day, but the rest of his testing was not terrible, recording a 36 inch vertical and 6.87 3-cone drill. If he falls to day three, some team may be getting a steal.

Ryland B.: When watching film on Marlon Tuipulotu for the defensive tackles board, I kept noticing a safety flying across the field play after play, involved in just about every tackle, prompting me to look up, “Who is #15 on USC?” Well, it turns out that #15 was Talanoa Hufanga — an athletic strong safety whose physical style of play and effort simply pops off the tape. He’s one of the best run-stoppers in this safety class and a willing and effective tackler, although he can take some bad angles and be overaggressive at times. In the passing game, he’s still rather raw, but has the athleticism to succeed while still having some success in college. If the Steelers had a mid-round pick to spend on a backup safety (they don’t), I’d want it to be for Talanoa Hufanga.

6. Hamsah Nasirildeen — #23, Sr, 6’4”, 220 lbs, — Florida State
Mid 4th round grade
Consensus ranking: 71 (53, 64, NA, 81, 85)
2020 season stats: Tackles 13, Sacks 0, Int 1, PD 1, FF 0, FR 0, (2 games)
2019 season stats: Tackles 101, Sacks 1, Int 2, PD 3, FF 3, FR 1, (12 games)

steelerfan11: Much like Diablo, Nasirildeen projects as a guy who can play both as a safety and as a subpackage linebacker. As pointed out by The Draft Network, Nasirildeen takes great tackling angles, which results in very few missed tackles. His length helps him close on defenders quickly and occasionally make plays on the ball. While Nasirildeen has solid speed and has good fluidity in coverage, he is still raw, and his instincts are still developing. He tore his ACL in 2019, and we have not seen very much of him since, but if he continues to develop in coverage and as a blitzer, he could be a potential pro-bowler down the line.

Ryland B.: Nasirildeen is certainly a “tweener” on defense, but it’s likely he’ll still find success in today’s NFL. He’s a big, athletic player who played everywhere from free safety to inside linebacker while at Florida State. What pops up first on tape is Nasirideen’s run-stopping ability. He’s good at diagnosing run plays and getting himself in position to make the hit, and when he does make contact he’s a very physical player. He doesn’t wrap up too well but it’s a fixable issue. And despite being a defensive back, he rarely looked outmatched when playing up near the line of scrimmage. In coverage, Nasirildeen is very athletic but not the most fluid mover, although it is impressive for someone of his size. He’s very effective against tight ends though, who I think he’ll be matched up against a lot in the NFL. Nasirildeen has a very interesting skillset, and if used correctly he could be a very successful defensive weapon in the NFL.

7. Divine Deablo — #17, Sr, 6’3”, 226 lbs, — Virginia Tech
Mid 4th round grade
Consensus ranking: 146 (NA, 121, 160, 158, NA)
2020 season stats: Tackles 55, TFL 2, Int 4, PD , FF 1, (9 games)

steelerfan11: Deablo is a former wide receiver who has made a nice transition to defense. He proved his solid athleticism at his pro day, running a 4.42 in the 40 and doing 19 reps on the bench. He will make his mark on special teams early in his career, but he is not ready for a starting role on defense yet. He has the versatility to play as either a strong safety or a subpackage linebacker, but he is still fairly new to the defensive side of the ball and struggles to process information quickly. He has upside, but he is extremely raw and will need to be given time to develop.

Ryland B.: Deablo is another jumbo-sized safety prospect with the size and athletic ability to play all over the field. He’s a smart player and a good tackler, who hits hard and plays with good effort. In coverage he has good ball skills and overall athleticism, but isn’t the most fluid mover. He’ll be a good developmental mid-round pick.

8. Tariq Thompson — #14, Sr, 6’0”, 200 lbs, — San Diego State
Mid 4th round grade
Consensus ranking: 177 (NA, 138, NA, 216, NA)
2020 season stats: Tackles 41, Sacks 0, Int 1, PD 4, FF 1, FR 1, (8 games)

steelerfan11: If you like versatility and physicality, this is your guy. When I watched San Diego State during the season, it seemed like Thompson was always making plays. He has the speed and fluidity to cover a lot of ground in the secondary, and he is not afraid to hit people. He has the ability to play nickel cornerback and either safety position, which would be a huge plus for the Steelers. Considering that depth is needed at safety and nickel corner, Thompson should definitely be on the Steelers’ radar. I think he will go in the fifth round range, but if he were to fall to round six, the Steelers should be elated. He would actually have a chance to capture Mike Hilton’s former role as the nickel cornerback in Keith Butler’s defense.

Ryland B.: Thompson is a versatile defensive back who spent time at safety and in the slot during his time at San Diego State. He isn’t the most athletic, but more than makes up for it with a physical style of play and excellent ball skills. He’s a willing run defender who is a solid tackler, and against the pass he’s aggressive and instinctive. His lower level of competition at SDSU could be a concern, but overall Thompson has starting upside as a situational defender, and the floor of a good special-teamer.

9. James Wiggins — #1, Sr, 6’0”, 205 lbs, — Cincinnati
Mid 4th round grade
Consensus ranking: 225 (NA, 265, NA, 185, NA)
2020 season stats: Tackles 32, Sacks 1, Int 1, PD 7, FF 1, FR 0, (9 games)

steelerfan11: Wiggins is a gifted athlete who came up clutch for the Bearcats throughout his career. He lacks ideal awareness and anticipation at this point, but he can cover a lot of ground in coverage. When he recognizes the run, he does a good job of coming downhill and making a play. He just needs to react quicker. Wiggins has decent size and good speed, but he has had some knee injuries in the past that may cause concern for teams. Overall, I like Wiggins’ upside, and I think his instincts can improve in time, but the injury concerns are why I think he will slide to day three.

Ryland B.: If it wasn’t for the injury concerns, Wiggins would likely be ranked much higher in this class. He tore his ACL in 2019, and despite making a full recovery he suffered some more knee issues later on in the season. When healthy, Wiggins is an excellent athlete at the safety position who is quite the run defender. He tackles well and plays physically. Against the pass, Wiggins has great ball skills and hands, but isn’t the greatest as a free safety despite his athleticism. If injuries don’t derail Wiggins’ career, he has the makings of a quality safety in the NFL.

10. Tyrie Gillespie — #9, Sr, 6’0”, 210 lbs, — Missouri
Late 4th round grade
Consensus ranking: 182 (133, 204, 239, 152, NA)
2020 season stats: Tackles 46, TFL 1, Int 0, PD 4, FF 1, (9 games)

Ryland B.: Tyrie Gillespie is a smart, solid all-around safety who may not have much starter upside in the NFL, but will likely be competent depth. He doesn’t have any incredible athletic traits, but he’s more than adequate in that area. However, he’s a physical, strong tackler who is very reliable in run support. He also was tasked with single high safety duties at Missouri, which he was surprisingly solid at due to his high football IQ and instincts. Gillespie isn’t the flashiest safety in this class, but he has one of the highest floors.

steelerfan11: Gillespie is a solid athlete, but the tape is all over the place. He provides solid versatility, but I am not sure if he is good enough at any one position to be a full-time starter in the NFL. He played mostly as a high safety in college, but the results were up and down, and he would have occasional lapses in coverage. He also does not have the greatest ball skills. Gillespie is a good athlete, but I think he is most likely a #3 safety in the NFL.

11. Caden Sterns — #7, Jr, 6’1”, 207 lbs, — Texas
Mid 5th round grade
Consensus ranking: 129 (147, 93, NA, 147, NA)
2020 season stats: Tackles 52, TFL 1.5, Int 1, PD 4, (7 games)

steelerfan11: Sterns has the speed, instincts, and fluidity to be a successful safety, but there are some noticeable flaws in his game. He plays the game with aggression, but that can be a double-edged sword. He is not afraid to make big hits, but he acts smaller than his size and occasionally struggles to make simple tackles. When he comes downhill to play the run, he struggles to get off blocks and make plays. He is also not a huge threat as a blitzer. I believe that Sterns has starter upside at either safety position, but I think his best shot is at free safety in a system that will gradually ease him into action.

12. Paris Ford — #12, Jr, 6’0”, 190 lbs, — Pittsburgh
Mid 5th round grade
Consensus ranking: 92 (98, 82, 109, 83, 86)
2020 season stats: Tackles 45, Sacks 0, Int 3, PD 6, FF 0, FR 0, (7 games)

Itz JustNoah: Ford opted out after playing in only 7 games, and his stock fell heavily (his pro day did not help either). Despite testing poorly, his athleticism is apparent on tape. He plays fast, he hits hard and he can create turnovers. His coverage ability is alright but he is phenomenal inside the box and stuffing runs. Due to his poor pro day numbers and his average coverage ability, he is going to fit solely as a strong safety. Although I do think the he would do well on a team that knows how to use him as a hybrid linebacker/safety, similar to Jeremy Chinn. I like the idea of picking up Ford because depth at safety is definitely needed, but I doubt we can get him in the sixth, and the fourth might be a bit early depending on how the first 3 rounds go.

13. Richard LeCounte III — #2, Sr, 5’11”, 190 lbs, — Georgia
Late 5th round grade
Consensus ranking: 145 (177, 169, 83, 150, NA)
2020 season stats: Tackles 26, TFL 1, Int 3, PD 7, FR 1, (6 games)

steelerfan11: LeCounte’s pro day numbers will make you shy away from him, but he was the leader of a Georgia defense that will likely have six or seven players drafted this year. He is an excellent leader on the field and was nearly flawless in terms of communication. He ran a horrible 40 time at his pro day, but much like Paris Ford, some numbers are almost so bad to believe that you really can’t believe it. If you watch the tape, you would guess that he would run three-tenths of a second faster than he actually did. If he can prove that his athleticism is better than what he showed at his pro day, he could become a starting free safety down the line.

14. Ar’Darius Washington — #24, So, 5’8”, 178 lbs, — TCU
6th round grade
Consensus ranking: 104 (100, 118, NA, 100, 99)
2020 season stats: Tackles 37, Sacks 0, Int 0, PD 5, FF 0, FR 0, (10 games)

Ryland B.: I really liked this guy’s tape. He isn’t the greatest athlete but has very good game speed, and while he isn’t the biggest he has a physical style of play. As a tackler he’s very aggressive and comes downfield well, although his technique can be a little inconsistent. When playing deep, Washington is very disciplined, almost to a fault as I’d like to see him freelance a bit more, but overall he has solid range and is very fluid in coverage. He has great ball skills as well. Size and speed could be concerns, but otherwise I was very impressed with what I saw from Washington.

15. Quentin Lake — #37, Jr, 6’1”, 195 lbs, — UCLA
6th round grade
Consensus ranking: NA (NA, NA, NA, NA, NA)
2020 season stats: Tackles 33, Sacks 0, Int 1, PD 0, (5 games)

steelerfan11: The son of former Steelers defensive back Carnell Lake, Quentin is a good athlete who began to break out in the abbreviated 2020 PAC-12 season. He has good instincts and has good closing speed coming from the high safety position. His athleticism allows him to play nickel cornerback as well, and he has shown the ability to cover slot receivers one-on-one. He isn’t this big-hitting safety that is going to lower the boom on opposing receivers and running backs, but he is a consistent tackler who understands that it is wiser to make the sure tackle than to go for the highlight reel hit. Don’t let his late round grade fool you. He is going under the radar and will be an absolute steal if he makes it to round seven or undrafted free agency.

16. Damar Hamlin — #3, Sr, 6’1”, 195 lbs, — Pittsburgh
6th round grade
Consensus ranking: 165 (NA, 186, 110, 199, NA)
2020 season stats: Tackles 67, TFL 3.5, Int 2, PD 9, (10 games)

Itz JustNoah: Hamlin is one of the more underrated safeties in this draft. He’s very versatile, and has the skill set to be a strong safety or free safety. He’s got adequate size and length, he’s fast, plays with great instincts and he’s a very solid tackler. But he also provides good ball skills, racking up 5 interceptions and 26 pass breakups in the last 3 years. Personally, I think he would be great value, for any team, in the 5th or maybe late 4th but I doubt he goes earlier than the sixth round. I like the idea of taking him because we need the depth and he can give us that at both safety spots, but it’s just a question of if he’ll be there when we want to take a safety.

17. Jamar Johnson — #22, Jr, 6’1”, 197 lbs, — Indiana
7th round/UDFA grade
Consensus ranking: 178 (NA, 241, 192, 100, NA)
2020 season stats: Tackles 43, TFL 3.5, Sacks 1, Int 4, PD 8, FF 1, (8 games)

steelerfan11: Johnson is a physical safety who has tremendous ball skills and the knack for creating a turnover in the biggest moments. While he was able to hold his own in man coverage in college, I do not think that he has the speed to play in a man heavy scheme in the NFL. His best fit is in zone heavy schemes, but he still lacks fluidity. His hips are tight, and he does not move well laterally. Maybe I am underestimating Johnson’s potential, but I think that he is one of the more overrated safeties in this class.

18. Christian Uphoff — #24, Jr, 6’3”, 195 lbs, — Illinois State
7th round/UDFA grade
Consensus ranking: 277 (NA, 389, 229, 213, NA)
2020 season stats: (0 games)
2019 season stats: Tackles 70, TFL 5.5, Int 2, PD 7, (15 games)

Ryland B.: Uphoff is a big, athletic safety who has had some success as a return man on special teams as well. He has a lot of upside, but is also technically sound for the most part, possessing good ball skills and range, while also being a sufficient run defender. Uphoff looked really good in college, but the big question is whether or not he can translate that success from the FCS to the NFL.

19. Joshua Bledsoe — #1, Sr, 6’0”, 200 lbs, — Missouri
7th round/UDFA grade
Consensus ranking: 238 (179, 331, 280, 163, NA)
2020 season stats: Tackles 41, Sacks 1, Int 1, PD 7, FF 1, FR 1, (10 games)

steelerfan11: Bledsoe is versatile and can play in almost any type of coverage, but he does not really excel in any single one. I like his ball skills, but he does not seem like a natural fit at safety. Although he made some big plays for Missouri, he just does not seem to be a perfect fit in any one spot. He is a solid run defender and is quick to recognize the run, but until he can improve in coverage, he is simply a project that will not likely be anything more than a backup at the NFL level.

20. Darrick Forrest — #5, Sr, 6’0”, 198 lbs, — Cincinnati
7th round/UDFA grade
Consensus ranking: 244 (NA, 277, NA, 216, NA)
2020 season stats: Tackles 40, TFL 1, Int 2, PD 3, (10 games)

Ryland B.: Forrest is a feisty defensive back who had a great year on a rising Cincinnati team last season. He’s fairly athletic, a fluid mover, and willing tackler. He played all over the field during his career, but I liked him most in a strong safety/box safety role, where his energy and physicality really stood out. He’s fine in coverage, but lacks the speed and quickness to be a true backstop against NFL receivers. Overall he’s a solid tackler, but he often looked like he was trying to make the big hit instead of wrapping up, which could be an issue in the NFL. Forrest has starting upside in the right scheme, but should offer the floor of a solid special teamer.

21. Lamont Wade — #38, Sr, 5’9”, 199 lbs, — Penn State
7th round/UDFA grade
Consensus ranking: 358 (NA, 362, NA, 353, NA)
2020 season stats: Tackles 37, Int 1, PD 3, FR 2, (9 games)

steelerfan11: Wade’s versatility makes him a worthwhile investment as a late-round pick, but it is unlikely he ever becomes a starter. His size could force him into a nickel role considering that he is only 5’9”. He is a quick, loose-hipped defender who can match up against agile slot receivers, but he will struggle to tackle bigger receivers and running backs in the open field. He is a threat as a blitzer from the slot, but his best value to a team will be his special teams abilities. That is where he will likely be used the most on the team that drafts him or signs him as an undrafted free agent.

22. Jamien Sherwood — #20, Jr, 6’2”, 220 lbs, — Auburn
7th round/UDFA grade
Consensus ranking: NA (NA, NA, NA, NA, NA)
2020 season stats: Tackles 75, Sacks 1, Int 0, PD 3, FF 0, FR 2, (11 games)

Ryland B.: I see Sherwood as a sort of “Hamsah Nasirildeen lite” in the upcoming draft. The two are built very similarly and have a similar play style, but Nasirildeen is just more athletic. That isn’t to say Sherwood is a bad athlete, but he lacks the idea measurables of an NFL defensive back. However, his football IQ, tackling ability, and experience as a box safety at Auburn should help him make the transition into a subpackage linebacker at the NFL level.

23. Reed Blankenship — #12, Sr, 6’1”, 200 lbs, — Middle Tennessee State
7th round/UDFA grade
Consensus ranking: 106 (106, NA, NA, NA, NA)
2020 season stats: Tackles 76, TFL 1, PD 1, (9 games)

steelerfan11: Blankenship is a sound tackler and strong run defender, but he is not very good in man coverage. He is not extremely fast or agile, he lacks recovery speed. He did a solid job in zone coverage at Middle Tennessee, but he does not bring much in terms of creating turnovers. Blankenship is another guy who could become a nice depth piece but is probably best suited for special teams only.

Notable prospects who decided to return to school for 2021:

Clemson S Nolan Turner

Oklahoma State S Kolby Harvell-Peel

Miami S Bubba Bolden

Should the Steelers select a safety in the 2021 NFL Draft?

steelerfan11: Minkah Fitzpatrick is obviously one of the top young safeties in the game, and Terrell Edmunds continues to improve each year. The starters are set, but after losing Sean Davis in free agency, the Steelers lack depth at the position. I expect the Steelers to consider a safety on day three, but there are too many needs for the Steelers to address it any sooner. If Talanoa Hufanga falls to the fourth round, he would be difficult to pass on. He would provide solid depth behind Terrell Edmunds. If the Steelers go the route of a more versatile safety that can play nickel cornerback, I would love the thought of adding Tariq Thompson if he were to fall to the sixth round. Two names that may not excite you but could be day three steals are Richard LeCounte III and Paris Ford. Both of them had terrible pro days, but if you look simply at the tape, they are worthy of day two picks. Both of them are good leaders in the secondary and know how to create turnovers. The one that I find most intriguing, however, is Quentin Lake. The Steelers like players with NFL bloodlines, and with his father’s ties to the Steelers, he would make sense in the seventh round. I truly believe that if the PAC-12 had a full season, he would have crept into the middle rounds of the draft. He began to play really well this season, but because the season was shorter, it was a small sample size. If I am the GM, I am waiting until day three to take a safety and hoping that Tariq Thompson and Quentin Lake fall to the sixth or seventh round.

Ryland B.: With Minkah Fitzpatrick and Terell Edmunds entrenched as the Steelers starters in 2021, there’s no reason for the team to take a safety earlier than day 3. However, if you ask yourself the question of who would step in at free safety if Fitzpatrick went down, you can see why safety could still be considered a need for Pittsburgh. The starters are fine but the depth is incredibly lacking. While it isn’t a strong class by any means at the position, there are some intriguing late round options who the Steelers would be wise to consider in the final rounds.


When should the Steelers draft a safety in the 2021 NFL Draft?

This poll is closed

  • 0%
    Round 1
    (0 votes)
  • 0%
    Rounds 2-3
    (0 votes)
  • 32%
    Rounds 4-5
    (23 votes)
  • 52%
    Rounds 6-7
    (37 votes)
  • 15%
    UDFA/Don’t draft a safety
    (11 votes)
71 votes total Vote Now

This is a collaborative effort, and once again I’d like to thank the entire team that worked on the BTSC Big Board. Also, we’d like to thank the incredible community here at BTSC for the positive reception this board has received.

Stay tuned to Behind the Steel Curtain for more content, including the rest of this big board, as we inch closer to the 2021 NFL Draft.