The safety position is defined largely in today's game by the versatility a player possesses. The better a safety can cover the slot as well as the increasingly large and athletic tight ends, the more value that player has.
Sometimes it just comes down to size. Syracuse's Shamarko Thomas is still available as the fourth round of the NFL Draft kicks off at noon ET Saturday. While nine safeties were taken in the first three rounds, there are still some available who have the ability to play in the NFL.
Top Safeties Available
1, Shamarko Thomas, Syracuse
Standing at 5'8 with 31-inch arms, Thomas's most obvious limitation is his height. He's very muscular and is a powerful tackler. The height issue comes into play because it will ultimately limit his playmaking ability, but he's a solid tackler and will support the run ferociously. On the softer skill side, he's a leader both by example and through communication. His ceiling may not be very high, but he's a player who can find his way onto the field early in his career.
2, Phillip Thomas, Fresno State
Injuries are the main concern with him. He has good size (6'0, 208 pounds), and while that should translate into stronger run support, he doesn't seem to have the ability to get off blocks as quickly as he should. He's a playmaker, though, and could be used in multiple roles in the NFL.
3, Baccari Rambo, Georgia
Twice suspended at Georgia, his off-the-field decisions are far worse than the ones he makes on the field. He's been productive throughout his career, has good size (6'0, 211 pounds) and has played well in the SEC. The suspensions - both for violations of team rules with a reported failed drug test in there to kick off the 2012 season - have kept him down to this point.
4, Duke Williams, Nevada
A high-production starter the last three seasons, he has no injury concerns and isn't afraid to hit. He doesn't have the best ball skills in the draft, but it's clear he knows his way around a football field. He's a very solid option, but the lack of big conference experience may have shied a few away.
5, Earl Wolff, N.C. State
A solid-not-spectacular all-around safety. He is a jack of all trades sort and he has enough game that he can contribute at either safety spot, depending on team need.
Jakar Hamilton, South Carolina State
Zeke Motta, Notre Dame
Robert Lester, Alabama
Daimion Stafford, Nebraska