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There Will Be A New Safety In Baltimore

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With all of the comings and goings for the Baltimore Ravens so far in free agency one thing is for sure. There will be a new safety wearing the purple and black next season.

Ed Reed and Bernard Pollard will both be back but they will need at least one, probably two more safeties on the roster before the start of the 2012 season. Tom Zbikowski and Haruki Nakamura were great Ravens. They played hard, helped out on special teams and were able to step in and start when need be. They are the type of players that make good teams great. The guys that no one sees that make carrying the load that much easier for the superstars. they will be hard to replace.

The Ravens have two options, the draft or free agency. After the jump I will list the top safeties in both. Chances are one of these guys will be playing for the Ravens next season. What do you think the team should do?

2012 NFL draft, safeties:

NFL Scout Jayson Braddock

1. Mark Barron – SS – Alabama, Sr., 6’1" 213 Lbs. – Four out of our first five safeties are either from Alabama or South Carolina. Two of them were corners in college but would transition perfectly to safeties. Barron is the cream of the crop though. He’s battle tested against the toughest amateur competition on the planet and proven.

2. Dre Kirkpatrick – SS/FS – Alabama, Jr., 6’2" 186 Lbs. – Kirkpatrick is one of the most versatile defensive backs in this class. He could either play as a zone corner, free, or strong safety. He’s a lengthy, big corner that reacts immediately. Due to his talent and flexibility we considered making him the number 1 safety.

3. Stephon Gilmore – FS – South Carolina, Jr., 6’0" 190 Lbs. – Gilmore compares similarly to Kirkpatrick. The more he impresses people as a corner, the more we are impressed as a safety. He doesn’t have the hips to stick with NFL receivers in man coverage but he would easily take out the increase play of tight ends and patrol a general area with the best of them.

4. Harrison Smith – SS – Notre Dame, rSr., 6’2" 213 Lbs. – Smith’s fluidity has impressed us from the beginning but we still have fear of some of his conservative play. If he was to get in the right system and let an NFL coaching staff direct how to use his skill set, he could become amazing. Rex Ryan would turn this kid into a Pro Bowler.

5. Antonio Allen – SS – South Carolina, rSr., 6’1" 210 Lbs. – We can’t figure out why there isn’t much buzz surrounding Allen. We love everything he does. He has the ability to cover like a corner and even held Orson Charles to 0 catches earlier this year. He displays a physical nature, tackles well, uses his length and crazy arms to take away receiving threats. He was used mostly as a hybrid safety / linebacker and didn’t get to display his coverage ability that often but when he did, he left no questions.

6. Trumaine Johnson – FS – Montana, Sr., 6’2" 204 Lbs. – Obviously, playing in Montana will bring up concerns about his level of competition but his film put that to rest. There were some off-field issues as well. Teams that are comfortable with his character and raw areas, will look to develop as a play making safety. EVEN

7. George Iloka – FS – Boise State, Sr., 6’4" 225 Lbs. – Iloka is a bigger version of Johnson, without the same coverage skills. Iloka can still cover but he’s not as fluid as Trumaine when it comes to covering shiftier receivers. He’s a big guy that can cover ground and take away mismatches against the wave of elite 6’4+ receivers in the NFL. He fits with the trend that the Seahawks use.

8. Duke Ihenacho – SS – San Jose State, rSr., 6’0" 213 Lbs. – It’s obvious that we like our strong safeties to not only hit but be able to cover as well. In this new,pass first league, that also disciplines almost every vicious hits, teams have to find safeties that have more coverage ability than intimidation of a physical nature. Duke fits the criteria.

9. Terrance Frederick – FS, Texas A&M, rSr., 5’10" 187 Lbs. – A lot of talk was surrounding Coryell Judie at A&M but Frederick is the player that stuck out to us. Terrance doesn’t have the size of most of our safeties but he’s proven time and time again that he can take away the bigger guys and those that are more athletic.

10. Markelle Martin – FS – Oklahoma State, rSr., 6’1" 207 Lbs. – Martin is one of those players that scare us. He doesn’t always show up. When he does, he can make plays for a team and win them games. We feel that he falls best here as the risk would be worth the possible rewards.

2012 NFL free agent safeties:

LaRon Landry (WAS) - With an Achilles injury sidelining him last year, Landry enters this offseason without a contract and an injury that still isn't entirely healed. Going against doctors' wishes, Landry has decided to forgo surgery hoping the heel will improve on its own. With that type of risk hanging over, the Redskins appear disinterested in re-signing the safety who has looked like a star at times unless he's open to a low-risk, short-term contract. Whether it's what he wants, that may be the best he'll get even on the open market.

Thomas DeCoud (ATL) - DeCoud has been an adequate safety for the Falcons for the past three years in a league where adequate, consistent safeties are hard to find. On the bright side, the Falcons are projected to be close to $30 million under the cap. On the other hand, they also have to worry about re-signing Brent Grimes and Curtis Lofton to long-term deals on defense in addition to making a decision on defensive end John Abraham.

The Rest:

Hamza Abdullah (ARZ)
Sean Considine (ARZ)
James Sanders (ATL)
Haruki Nakumura (BAL)
Tom Zbikowski (BAL)
Bryan Scott (BUF)
Brandon Meriweather (CHI)
Craig Steltz (CHI)
Reggie Nelson (CIN)
Gibril Wilson (CIN)
Mike Adams (CLE)
Abram Elam (DAL)
Erik Coleman (DET)
Chris Harris (DET)
Dominique Barber (HOU)
CC Brown (JAC)
Courtney Greene (JAC)
Jon McGraw (KC)
Sabby Piscitelli (KC)
Husain Abdullah (MIN)
Tyrell Johnson (MIN)
Jarrad Page (MIN)
James Ihedigbo (NE)
Nathan Jones (NE)
Deon Grant (NYG)
Derrick Martin (NYG)
Jim Leonhard (NYJ)
Brodney Pool (NYJ)
Matt Giordano (OAK)
Steve Gregory (SD)
Paul Oliver (SD)
Bob Sanders (SD)
Atari Bigby (SEA)

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