NFL Combine preview - Albert Breer
Like tight end, safety has been a position that’s had a rough class or three this decade, but starting with the 2017 class, headlined by Jamal Adams and Malik Hooker, we’ve seen a resurgence at that spot. And this class is no different.
There’s no Adams or Hooker. But there are good players everywhere. McShay says he has 14 guys with grades in the first four rounds, whereas the average for the three years prior to this one was 11. And what jumps out about them is how they’re built for the 2019 game.
“It’s a different group,” Beddingfield said. “They’ve evolved into the cover corner position in the NFL, because of how the passing game works, so you need guys who have coverage ability and can tackle. It’s the safety who can do it all. It’s a nice group of athletes that are coming.”
Among the top guys: Mississippi State’s Jonathan Abram, Delaware’s Nasir Adderly, Washington’s Taylor Rapp and Alabama’s Deionte Thompson. And I’ll add that a lot of the hard-core football people I respect love the heady, tough Rapp.
The depth at the position should be there, too, right into Day 3 of the draft, with guys like Boston College’s Will Harris, Kentucky’s Mike Edwards, Miami’s Jaquan Johnson and Utah’s Marquise Blair standing as potential values.
Jaquan Johnson could be an intriguing Day 3 addition. He displayed some ballhawking ability with six interceptions, five forced fumbles, two fumble recoveries and a defensive touchdown during his last two season with the Hurricanes.
Baltimore Ravens’ C.J. Mosley has yet to earn a grade above 76.3 in his five-year NFL career, but he also hasn’t earned a season grade below 66.3 in said span. He’s a high-floor, low-ceiling veteran linebacker that can instantly contribute as a good, not great piece in any NFL defense in 2019.
If Mosley can improve his coverage and keep that area of his game in a good place for an extended period of time, he’ll see his overall grade improve significantly. Whether it’s with the Ravens or another NFL team, Mosley will need to prioritize such improvements to become a household name in this league.
The C.J. Mosley decision has become the main offseason storyline for the Ravens. While league wide salary cap increases have led to inflated contracts at some positions, other positions have been downgraded due to changes in gameplay.
FIVE TEAMS LIKELY TO PASS ON BELL
Pairing Bell with Lamar Jackson would be an intriguing combination, but it wouldn’t fit new GM Eric DeCosta’s philosophy of being ”financially responsible” with the salary cap. The Ravens don’t have any player averaging more than $10.5 million per season (once quarterback Joe Flacco is officially traded), and Bell reportedly turned down a deal last season that averaged $14 million per season. Plus, Bell’s ultra-patient running style isn’t a great fit for run-option plays, which will likely remain a big part of the offense in 2019.
If Le’Veon regains his form after a year away from the field, his versatility could make him worth a record setting contract in the short term. Long term, however, large annual cap figures on the backend of his next contract are likely to handicap the team that signs Bell.