2019 Preseason All-American Projections: Safeties

By Charlie Campbell
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Heading into the 2019 college football season WalterFootball.com will debut our projections for the nation’s leaders during the fall. The All-American teams always have some surprises and the stars of next fall could be the headlining players next April in the 2020 NFL Draft.

First-Team Safeties:

Grant Delpit, LSU

LSU has been a factory for defensive back talent and has a running claim of being “DB U.” Delpit could be the program’s marquee defensive back for the 2019 season. In 2018, he was all over the field for the Tigers and impossible to ignore. He recorded 74 tackles, 9.5 tackles for a loss, five sacks, nine passes batted and five interceptions on the year. The 6-foot-3, 208-pounder has excellent instincts to go along with a good combination of size and speed. It was a huge improvement over his freshman year, when he totaled 60 tackles with eight passes broken up and an interception. If Delpit can stay consistent to his 2018 season production, he should have a ton of postseason accolades coming his direction.

Isaiah Simmons, Clemson

Team sources were impressed with Simmons during the 2018 season, and he was the national champion’s best defensive back. The big safety was a tough run defender who also did a good job of patrolling the middle of the field in pass coverage. Simmons totaled 89 tackles with six passes broken up, three forced fumbles and one interception in 2018. The 6-foot-3, 230-pounder is a physical tackler who has good instincts with a nose for the football. He could be even better in 2019 as he really improved from his redshirt freshman season. Simmons should be one of the best safeties in college football this fall and earn a lot of All-American designations.

Second-Team Safeties:

Xavier McKinney, Alabama

One could argue, taking the whole of last season into acccounty, that McKinney became Alabama’s best defensive back after Trevon Diggs went down with an injury. McKinney played a huge role in leading the Crimson Tide to another National Championship, making a big impact with 73 tackles, 10 breakups, two interceptions and one forced fumble. McKinney could be even better in 2019, as he has more experience to build off of and should benefit from more developmental time with Alabama’s coaching staff. McKinney could end up being a one of the top safeties in college football in 2019, and him being a second-team projection could be conservative.

Shyheim Carter, Alabama

Carter was very good for Alabama during the 2018 season and played better than his stats illustrated. He took over the star position that had previously been played by Minkah Fitzpatrick. Like Fitzpatrick, Carter showed an ability to play safety and slot cornerback. He totaled two interceptions, 10 breakups, one forced fumble and 27 tackles on the year. Carter could be even better in 2019 with his increased experience and development from the Crimson Tide coaching staff.

Third-Team Safeties:

Khaleke Hudson, Michigan

In 2018, Hudson had 45 tackles with two sacks and one pass broken up. He needs to improve his pass coverage as a senior. After serving as a backup during his freshman campaign, Hudson broke out in 2017. The first-year starter made 83 tackles with 18.5 tackles for a loss, eight sacks, nine passes broken up and two interceptions on the year. Hudson (6-0, 205) is an excellent blitzer with the upside to develop more coverage skills. He will be an interesting player to watch due to his upside to be an impactful safety as a senior.

Marcelino Ball, Indiana

Ball was selected for NFL teams’ preseason watch list, and some advance scouts projected him as having the potential to get selected in the top half of the 2020 NFL Draft. In 2018, he totaled 59 tackles with four passes broken up, one interception, 7.5 tackles for a loss and 2.5 sacks. As a freshman in 2016, Ball recorded 75 tackles with 10 passes defended and two interceptions. The 6-foot, 219-pounder has good size and could rack up a big senior year from making a lot of tackles and plays in coverage for the Hoosiers.

Honorable Mentions: Mississippi State’s JaQuarius Landrews, Texas’ Brandon Jones, Georgia’s J.R. Reed, Ohio State’s Jordan Fuller, Notre Dame’s Jalen Elliott, Virginia Tech’s Reggie Floyd, North Carolina’s Myles Dorn, Notre Dame’s Alohi Gilman, California’s Jaylinn Hawkins, Michigan State’s David Dowell and Washington State’s Jalen Thompson.

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