Mark Barron, SS, Alabama
Height: 6-1. Weight: 213. Projected 40 Time: 4.61. Arm: 33 5/8. Projected Round (2011): Top 25. 4/25/12: Barron is the most NFL-ready safety in the draft class. He was unable to work out at the Combine or his pro day due to the double-hernia surgery he had following the end of the season. He held a workout for scouts and it was reported that he did well. The biggest negative with Barron's draft stock is the concern about his durability. After all, he also missed time in each of the last two seasons, with a pectoral tear in 2010, and with torn rib cartilage in 2011. Teams are going to want to examine his health in the lead up to the draft.
There is a need at safety and that helps Barron's draft stock. Many believe he won't get out of the top 20. Barron had a strong senior season. He totaled 68 tackles (43 solo) with five passes broken up, five tackles for a loss, one sack and two interceptions in 2011. Barron played well against LSU, making six tackles and a pick in the first game, and recording a sack in the National Championship. He is one of the hardest hitting safeties in the draft.
Barron also has excellent instincts. He stays around the ball and has the propensity to make clutch plays. Entering the NFL, Barron has a lot of experience in a complex defense and should be able to make a quick transition to the next level.
8/26/11: Mark Barron had some inconsistent play in 2010, followed by a misdemeanor arrest this spring. He broke out with a dynamite sophomore season, recording seven interceptions with 76 tackles, 3.5 tackles for a loss and 11 passes broken up. Last year, Barron had 75 tackles with three interceptions, two sacks and a forced fumble. There were times where Barron was beat in pass coverage, and he will have to fix that in 2011 to improve his draft stock. Barron is a hard-hitter, and a very good safety in run support who is consistently around the ball. He definitely looks like a strong safety in the NFL.
Harrison Smith, S, Notre Dame
Height: 6-2. Weight: 213. 40 Time: 4.56. Bench: 19. Vertical: 34. Broad: 10-2. Arm: 32 5/8. Hand: 10 1/8. Projected Round (2012): 1-2. 4/25/12: Smith has some big supporters including NFL Network's Mike Mayock. After a subdued senior season, Smith played well at the Senior Bowl, and he looked good at the Combine. Smith has nice versatility in that he has the strength and power to defend the run in the box, while also having the speed and flexibility to defend receivers in the deep part of the field.
Smith was excellent at the Combine by running faster than expected and moving very well in the field drills. He is a fluid athlete who looks like the top free safety prospect in the draft.
Smith had a number of good games in 2011, but also had some ugly performances against USC and Michigan. As a senior, he produced a good tackle total (90) and had three tackles for a loss, 10 passes broken up, zero interceptions and one forced fumble.
8/26/11: Harrison Smith entered the 2010 season with zero career interceptions. He took advantage of opportunities last season, and came away with seven interceptions. Smith also had 91 tackles and seven passes broken up in an excellent season for the Fighting Irish. He had 69 tackles with 6.5 tackles for a loss and five passes broken up in 2009. If Smith can duplicate his interception production in 2010, he could rise into the middle of the draft.
Trumaine Johnson, FS/CB, Montana
Height: 6-2. Weight: 204. 40 Time: 4.50. Bench: 19. Vertical: 35.5. Broad: 10-2. Arm: 33 1/4. Projected Round (2012): 2-3. 4/25/12: Johnson held his own against Tennessee in the first game of the season with seven tackles, a pass broken up and a forced fumble. He had 54 tackles with six tackles for a loss, two interceptions and 12 passes broken up in 2011.
Johnson was a ballhawk in past seasons, but his interceptions declined this year. At the Combine, he looked a little stiff to play corner in the NFL. Johnson would be better off at safety as it didn't look like he had the quick hips to turn and run with speed receivers. Some teams will still consider Johnson at corner. He looks like a bit of a tweener. Johnson has taken a lot of pre-draft visits as teams try to vet some off the field concerns.
8/26/11: FCS standout Trumaine Johnson has an excellent combination of size and speed. He became a starter as a true freshman and recorded four interceptions. In 2009, despite missing four games, Johnson had five interceptions with 12 passes broken up and 54 tackles on the season. Last year, he had four interceptions with seven passes defensed and 44 tackles. Johnson needs to have another standout season playing against weaker competition, but his physical tools and consistent production should make him a mid-round pick.
Brandon Taylor, FS, LSU
Height: 5-11. Weight: 209. 40 Time: 4.50. Vertical: 33.5. Broad: 9-10. Arm: 31 1/4. Hand: 9 1/8. Projected Round (2012): 2-3. 4/25/12: In recent months, Taylor has seen a justified surge in his draft stock. He was being underrated for a long time and ranked behind inferior safeties. Taylor played well in 2011. Even with a lot of playmakers around him, he still produced. Taylor had 71 tackles with 7.5 tackles for a loss, five passes broken up, one sack and two interceptions this season. Taylor had strong games against West Virginia, Florida and Alabama. Fast and physical, he was the third-leading tackler for LSU in 2011.
Taylor strikes players with some violence. He is fast and doesn't shy away from getting physical. At the Senior Bowl, his physicality stood out along with quality instincts and anticipation. Taylor's Combine 40-yard dash time was very impressive as well. Others rate him lower, but he is a sleeper prospect who could surprise in the NFL.
8/26/11: Brandon Taylor started nine games before going down with a foot injury to end his season in 2010. He had 44 tackles with five passes broken up and zero interceptions. In 2009, Taylor had 41 tackles with two interceptions and four passes defenses. He needs to stay healthy and improve his production in 2011 to stay as a draftable prospect.
Markelle Martin, S, Oklahoma State
Height: 6-1. Weight: 207. Projected 40 Time: 4.58. Bench: 19. Arm: 32. Hand: 8 1/2. Projected Round (2012): 3-4. 4/25/12: Martin had a good senior season and was a bigger presence than his stats illustrate. He totaled 74 tackles (59 solo) with five tackles for a loss, nine passes broken up and two forced fumbles in 2011. Martin had a strong showing against Texas A&M in a big road win for Oklahoma State. He also played well against Stanford in his collegiate finale.
Martin played well at the Senior Bowl. He was rangy and physical against the receivers. Martin is a natural free safety who patrols the deep part of the field well. He has good speed and covers a lot of ground, plus he doesn't shy away from dishing out some hard hits.
Martin did not run at the Combine because of a knee injury that is said to be a combination of a pinched nerve and fluid in his knee. His inability to work out and the uncertainty with his recovery timetable makes his stock harder to gauge and has sent him down some.
8/26/11: Markelle Martin has had two decent seasons for the Cowboys. Last year, he had 55 tackles with 10 passes broken up and three interceptions. In 2009, Martin had 45 tackles with 11 passes broken up and zero interceptions. He looks like a potential late-round pick.
Antonio Allen, SS, South Carolina
Height: 6-1. Weight: 210. 40 Time: 4.62. Vertical: 34. Broad: 9-10. Arm: 32 1/2. Hand: 9 3/8. Projected Round (2012): 3-4. 4/25/12: Allen had a big senior season and was one of the top safeties in the SEC. He recorded 88 tackles with 9.5 tackles for a loss, one sack, four forced fumbles, three interceptions and two passes broken up in 2011. Allen had a solid junior year with 70 tackles, 10.5 tackles for a loss, 2.5 sacks, four passes broken up, two forced fumbles and one interception.
Allen is a good run defender who looks like a quality strong safety prospect. However, he didn't really stand out at either the Senior Bowl or the Scouting Combine.
George Iloka, S, Boise State
Height: 6-4. Weight: 225. 40 Time: 4.59. Bench: 20. Vertical: 34.5. Broad: 10-4. Arm: 34 1/2. Hand: 9 5/8. Projected Round (2012): 3-4. 4/25/12: Iloka was second on Boise State in tackles in 2011 with 58, but had zero interceptions and only one pass broken up. Against TCU, he gave up some passes deep downfield. Additionally, Arizona State torched Iloka in the Bowl game. That being said, he did well defending the run for the Broncos.
Iloka helped his stock by playing well at the Senior Bowl. The big safety was physical and stood out by being around the ball and making some plays in the short to intermediate part of the field. At the Combine, his tightness was exposed as he is too stiff to turn his hips and run. That will be a big issue for Iloka in the NFL. He was the epitome of high and tight in the field drills, and that will hurt his stock in the passing-driven NFL.
8/26/11: George Iloka is entering his third season as a starter and fourth season of significant playing time. In his career, he made the majority of his splash plays as a freshman, notching four interceptions with 6.5 tackles for a loss, one sack and 63 tackles. In Iloka's first year as a starter, his numbers dipped to 48 tackles with 2.5 tackles for a loss and one interception. Last season, he had 63 tackles with two tackles for a loss and two interceptions. Iloka is an experienced player with size. He needs to increase his takeaways as a senior.
Tavon Wilson, SS, Illinois
Height: 6-0. Weight: 205. Projected 40 Time: 4.57. Projected Round (2012): 4-5. 4/25/12: Wilson played well in 2011 for Illinois. He had 81 tackles with 6.5 tackles for a loss, one sack, one interception, one forced fumble and five passes broken up. Wilson is a good athlete and could be a quality sleeper/developmental prospect. He has quality instincts. Wilson didn't participate in the Combine. He has received a lot of interest and took a number of pre-draft visits.
8/26/11: Tavon Wilson is an experienced starter who has been a solid player for Illinois. Wilson had 48 tackles with eight passes broken up and one interception last season. In 2009, he had 74 tackles with seven passes defensed and one interception. Wilson started out his career at cornerback before wisely being moved to safety. He is expected to be a leader on the Illinois defense in 2011.
Trenton Robinson, FS, Michigan State
Height: 5-10. Weight: 195. 40 Time: 4.46. Bench: 15. Vertical: 35. Broad: 10-5. Arm: 31 1/2. Hand: 9 3/4. Projected Round (2012): 4-5. 4/25/12: Robinson had 80 tackles with four interceptions in 2011. He did not have a very good game against Notre Dame, but played well against Wisconsin. Overall, Robinson had a solid senior season. He is a quality defender in run support who operates well in zone coverage.
Robinson had a good showing at the Combine, helping himself with a fast 40 time. He looks like a mid-round pick who will be a backup and special teams player. Robinson does have some developmental potential to be a starter in the future. He ran the 40 in 4.42 at his pro day.
8/26/11: Trenton Robinson had 76 tackles with eight passes broken up and four interceptions last season in his first full season as a starter. He led the Spartans' defense in picks last season. In 2009, Robinson started seven games and had 67 tackles and one interception. Not only does he have ball skills but is a quality run defender. If Robinson matches his production, or improves on it, he could solidify himself as a second-day pick.
Philip Thomas*, FS, Syracuse
Height: 5-11. Weight: 198. 40 Time: 4.59. Vertical: 33. Broad: 10-2. Arm: 31 1/2. Hand: 9 3/8. Projected Round (2012): 4-6. 4/25/12: Thomas had a rough 2011 season to finish out his collegiate career. He started out with a broken jaw in the preseason, but returned to action for Week 1. Thomas totaled 82 tackles with six interceptions, 4.5 tackles for a loss, three passes broken up and a forced fumble in just 10 games. Head coach Doug Marrone suspended him for the final two games for violating athletic department rules. His suspension was said to be for a year. As a result, he decided to enter the 2012 draft.
Thomas had a quality sophomore season in 2010 with 92 tackles, four tackles for a loss, three passes broken up and one interception. He is a rangy free safety type, but was a disappointment at the Combine with a slower than expected 40 time and an average performance in the field drills.
Janzen Jackson*, FS, McNeese State
Height: 5-11. Weight: 188. 40 Time: 4.57. Bench: 9. Vertical: 36.5. Broad: 10-5. Arm: 31. Projected Round (2012): 4-6. 4/25/12: Jackson had 31 tackles with five passes broken up, two interceptions and a forced fumble in 2011. He needs to convince teams that his personal problems are behind him in order to get drafted. Perhaps Jackson has cleared up his off-the-field problems, but he did not produce a big season against lesser competition.
Jackson was hit and miss at the Scouting Combine,. There were times where he looked excellent and other drills he was completely lost. Jackson has some physical talent, but he will be a project at the pro level. His character concerns are a big detriment to his draft stock.
8/26/11: Janzen Jackson has been dismissed from Tennessee's program for off-the-field issues, rumored to be positive drug tests. In February, he withdrew from the school to deal with personal problems. He re-enrolled in July of 2011, but head coach Derek Dooley dismissed him from the team. Jackson will now have to find a new collegiate home and be productive on the field in order to get drafted into the NFL.
Last season, Jackson notched five interceptions with 69 tackles and six passes broken up. In 2009, he started as a freshman next to Eric Berry and recorded 37 tackles with three passes broken up and an interception. Jackson is a fast and physical defender who could have been a third-round pick if he had stayed at Tennessee and improved his production.
Sean Richardson, SS, Vanderbilt
Height: 6-2. Weight: 216. 40 Time: 4.47. Vertical: 38.5. Broad: 10-8. Arm: 32 5/8. Projected Round (2012): 4-6. 4/25/12: Richardson had a good Combine performance with a faster than expected 40-yard dash. He had 63 tackles with 6.5 tackles for a loss, one interception and three passes broken up as a senior, in 2011. Richardson had nice production as a junior with 99 tackles, seven tackles for a loss and five passes broken up. He totaled 84 tackles as a sophomore, his first year as as starter.
Richardson doesn't seem to have much in terms of ball skills as he has only one career interception despite being a three-year starter.
Aaron Henry, FS, Wisconsin
Height: 6-0. Weight: 205. 40 Time: 4.50. Projected Round (2012): 5-6. 4/25/12: Henry had 62 tackles with three tackles for a loss, four interceptions and three passes broken up this year. He was solid for the Badgers with big games against Nebraska and Illinois. Henry played well against Michigan State in the Big Ten Championship. He did not receive an invite to the Combine or Senior Bowl, but played decently at the East-West Shrine.
Henry doesn't look like a starter in the NFL, but he should still be quality depth and a special teams contributor. Henry had a strong showing at his pro day with a faster than expected 40 of 4.50.
8/26/11: Aaron Henry is a strong run defender who shows good instincts. He recorded 58 tackles last season with seven passes broken up and one forced fumble. Henry also had two interceptions, and he brought both picks back for touchdowns. It was Henry's first year as a starter, and he could be even better in 2011 now that he has a year of experience.
Brandon Hardin, CB/S, Oregon State
Height: 6-3. Weight: 216. Projected 40 Time: 4.58. Projected Round (2012): 5-6. 4/25/12: Hardin missed his senior season with a broken shoulder. He had a strong junior season with 63 tackles, one sack and three forced fumbles. As a sophomore in 2009, Hardin had 29 tackles with an interception. He has big size with some athleticism. A lot of teams have shown interest and brought him in on pre-draft visits. Hardin may be better off moving to safety in the NFL.
Winston Guy Jr., S, Kentucky
Height: 6-1. Weight: 218. 40 Time: 4.65. Arm: 33. Projected Round (2012): 5-7. 4/25/12: Guy Jr. started out the season with a huge game against Western Kentucky. He recorded 10 tackles with 2.5 tackles for a loss and two interceptions in the season opener and that set the tone for 2011. Guy Jr. stayed consistent and sent his stock on the rise. As a senior, he had 120 tackles with 14 tackles for a loss, two passes broken up, two interceptions and a forced fumble.
Guy is a tough run defender who operates extremely well in the tackle box. He also does well downfield and can deliver some jarring hits. Guy is an underrated prospect.
8/26/11: Winston Guy Jr. is an impressive athlete who provided a lot of production for Kentucky in 2010. In his second season as a starter, he recorded 106 tackles with three interceptions and two passes broken up. In his first season as a starter, Guy made 60 tackles with one sack and five passes broken up. Guy is a sleeper prospect who could rise with a strong senior season.
Eddie Whitley, FS, Virginia Tech
Height: 6-1. Weight: 190. Projected 40 Time: 4.58. Projected Round (2012): 5-7. 4/25/12: Whitley had 83 tackles with two interceptions, one forced fumble and four passes broken up this year. His run defense looked weak against Miami, Clemson and others. Whitley's stock has declined due to his unimpressive senior season. He has the athletic ability to be more productive, but appears to play tentatively. Whitley did not play in an All-Star game or perform at the Scouting Combine.
8/26/11: Eddie Whitley had a productive junior season with 80 tackles, four tackles for a loss, six passes broken up and two interceptions. It was Whitley's first season as a starter. Whitley projects as a free safety in the NFL.
Delano Howell, SS, Stanford
Height: 5-11. Weight: 210. 40 Time: 4.63. Bench: 21. Vertical: 33. Broad: 10-0. Arm: 31 1/4. Projected Round (2012): 6-7. 4/25/12: Howell had 52 tackles with a forced fumble and four passes broken up in 2011. He wasn't bad, but was fairly quiet for the Cardinal, and also missed three games. Howell played with a cast on his hand and battled injuries throughout the yea. He didn't stand out at the Combine.
8/26/11: Delano Howell made a lot of improvements in his second season as a starter. In 2010, he recorded 70 tackles with five interceptions, five passes defensed and one sack. A year earlier, Howell had 78 tackles with two interceptions and three passes broken up. He is a smart player who has good instincts to be around the ball. If Howell has a strong senior season with more takeaways, he could push his stock into the second round.
Jerron McMillian, S, Maine
Height: 5-11. Weight: 203. 40 Time: 4.35. Projected Round (2012): 6-7. 4/25/12: McMillian has received interest from a few teams. He stood out with a strong performance at the Combine and other work outs. As a senior, he had 92 tackles with 11.5 tackles for a loss, 3.5 sacks, five passes break up and one interception. McMillian had five interceptions as a sophomore. It wouldn't be surprising if he gets selected in the late rounds.
Trevor Coston, S, Maine
Height: 5-10. Weight: 210. Projected 40 Time: 4.58. Projected Round (2012): 6-FA. 4/25/12: Coston had a big senior season with six interceptions, 83 tackles and nine passes broken up. He also averaged 10 yards per punt return. Coston could make it into the late rounds and has taken a few pre-draft visits.
Tony Dye, SS, UCLA
Height: 5-11. Weight: 204. Projected 40 Time: 4.55. Projected Round (2012): 6-FA. 4/25/12: Dye recorded 23 tackles with .5 tackles for a loss and zero interceptions in only five games this season. He missed eight games with a neck injury and that hurt his draft stock significantly.
8/26/11: Tony Dye is entering his third season as a starter in 2011. In 2010, he led UCLA with 96 tackles and nine passes broken up with one interception. In his first year as a starter in 2009, he recorded 73 tackles. Dye needs to improve his ball skills as he only has one interception in his career. With Rahim Moore in the NFL, it will be on Dye to be a difference maker for the Bruins.
Neiko Thorpe, FS, Auburn
Height: 6-3. Weight: 191. Projected 40 Time: 4.52. Projected Round (2012): 6-FA. 4/25/12: Thorpe was very active this season and performed pretty well in his transition to safety from cornerback. He put together 102 tackles with three interceptions and six passes broken up. On the downside, Thorpe and the Auburn defense were gashed at times. It was surprising that he didn't get an invite to an All-Star game or the Scouting Combine.
8/26/11: Neiko Thorpe is moving to free safety in 2011 after previously playing cornerback. It should be a better fit for Thorpe. While he played all right at corner, his height may make a better safety, especially at the NFL level where he would have to be able to turn and run with speed receivers at corner. Thorpe had 64 tackles with nine passes broken up last season. Thorpe had more production as a sophomore, when he had 84 tackles with two interceptions, nine passes defensed and one interception. Thorpe is an intriguing player who could be moved around in an NFL secondary by a creative coaching staff.
Blake Gideon, FS, Texas
Height: 6-1. Weight: 200. Projected 40 Time: 4.64. Projected Round (2012): 6-FA. 4/25/12: Gideon had 66 tackles with four passes defended, one sack and two interceptions this season. He was consistently around the ball for the Longhorns. Gideon was one of the few Texas players who battled well against Baylor and its lethal passing combination of Robert Griffin III and Kendall Wright.
Gideon played well at the East-West Shrine, but he did not get an invite to the Combine. Gideon is a sleeper prospect who could surprise at the next level.
8/26/11: Blake Gideon is entering his fourth season as a starter for Texas. The experienced performer was an All-Big XII honorable mention in 2010. Last season, he made 63 tackles with two interceptions, one sack, one forced fumble and three passes defensed. As a sophomore, Gideon had a big season with six interceptions, 49 tackles and three passes broken up. As a pro, he should probably add a little bulk to be a bigger strong safety option.
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Jerrell Young, FS, South Florida
Height: 6-1. Weight: 205. Projected 40 Time: 4.53. Projected Round (2012): 6-FA. 4/25/12: In the first game of the season, Young had a massive game in the Bulls' road win over Notre Dame, recording seven tackles, a forced fumble, an interception and a tackle for a loss. In other games, he did not come close to that level of impact.
Young had 51 tackles with three tackles for a loss, two passes broken up, one forced fumble and two interceptions in 2011. He has a raw skill set but could be developed in the NFL. Young flashed some at the East-West Shrine, but he didn't work out at the Combine.
8/26/11: Jerrell Young did not produce much early in his collegiate career, but had an improved 2010 season for the Bulls. He totaled 41 tackles with three interceptions and three passes broken up. Young needs to increase his production to make sure he gets drafted.
Sean Cattouse, SS, California
Height: 6-2. Weight: 211. 40 Time: 4.68. 10-Yd Split: 1.65. Vertical: 34. Broad: 9-6. Arm: 33. Projected Round (2012): 6-FA. 4/25/12: Cattouse had 76 tackles, two interceptions, two passes broken up and a sack this season. His two interceptions came against Presbyterian. Cattouse looked better than expected at the Combine.
8/26/11: Sean Cattouse has been an All-PAC-10 honorable mention the past two seasons. Last year, he had 59 tackles with one interception and seven passes defensed. In 2009, Cattouse had 37 tackles with three passes broken up and one interception. He needs to improve his ball skills and make more plays to help his draft status.
Lance Mitchell, S, Oregon State
Height: 6-2. Weight: 205. Projected 40 Time: 4.60. Projected Round (2012): 7-FA. 4/25/12: Mitchell had 76 tackles, two interceptions and six passes broken up this season.
8/26/11: Lance Mitchell is a decent run defender who needs to amplify his ball skills. He had three passes broken up and two interceptions in 2010, with 74 tackles on the season. It was not much of an improvement from his sophomore season when he had 72 tackles with three interceptions and seven passes broken up. Mitchell needs to increase his plays on the ball as a senior in order to improve his draft stock.
Matt Merletti, SS, North Carolina
Height: 5-11. Weight: 200. 40 Time: 4.55. Projected Round (2012): FA. 4/25/12: Merletti was having a good senior season for North Carolina, displaying some nice instincts. However, about halfway through the year, his season ended since he had to have surgery on his ACL and MCL. Merletti had 36 tackles, two interceptions and two forced fumbles in 2011.
Merletti ran an impressive time of 4.55 at his pro day. Coming off his injury it was impressive. He could be a good gamble late in the draft or as an undrafted free agent.
8/26/11: Matt Merletti came back from a 2009 knee injury to record 37 tackles with two interceptions and four passes defensed last season. Merletti projects as the Tar Heels starting strong safety in 2011 and, with their tough pass rush and linebacking corps, should see some good interception opportunities.
Charles Mitchell, SS, Mississippi State
Height: 5-11. Weight: 202. 40 Time: 4.56. Bench: 19. Vertical: 37. Broad: 10-7. Arm: 30 1/4. Projected Round (2012): FA. 4/25/12: Mitchell had 95 tackles, a forced fumble and a sack this season. He made a lot of tackles (16) downfield against LSU. Mitchell does well in run support, but didn't produce any interceptions this year. He improved on his 40 time at his pro day with a time of 4.52.
8/26/11: Charles Mitchell recorded 93 tackles last season, with three tackles for a loss. In 2009, he had 64 tackles, with four interceptions and a forced fumble. Mitchell needs to improve his interception production in 2011.
Corey Mosley, S, Virginia
Height: 5-10. Weight: 200. Projected 40 Time: 4.59. Projected Round (2012): FA. 4/25/12: Mosley had 49 tackles in the 2011 season along with one interception and four passes broken up.
8/26/11: Corey Mosley had 52 tackles with two interceptions, one forced fumble and one pass broken up last season. Mosley had 47 tackles, two pass breakups and an interception in 2009. He needs to improve his production in 2011 to get drafted. With Chase Minnifield in the secondary, the other defensive backs figure to get tested, so Mosley should have opportunities to improve his passes defensed.