Like the 2013 draft, there should be three safeties taken in the first round this year. Well, there are three safeties who grade out as top-32 picks, at least.
Leading the way is Ha'Sean Clinton-Dix of Alabama. He's been the top safety throughout the entire process, going wire-to-wire as No. 1. Calvin Pryor of Louisville has pretty much done the same thing as Clinton-Dix, just at No. 2. After them, Jimmie Ward continued to emerge this season and his coverage ability can't be overlooked.
1. Ha'Sean "Ha Ha" Clinton-Dix | 6'1 3/8, 208 pounds | Safety | Alabama *
Clinton-Dix is a balanced player with the room to grow into a special safety in the NFL. Teams are looking for big safeties who can run and hit like Clinton-Dix can. No other safety in this class demonstrates as much balance at the position and few are as athletically gifted. Clinton-Dix is one of the top 10 players in this class.
2. Calvin Pryor | 5'11 1/8, 207 pounds | Safety | Louisville *
Pryor is the type of defensive back who could be brought in to start immediately. From a physical standpoint, he is ready for the NFL. He's a good all-around safety who is physical in the run game. Against the pass, Pryor has shown he's capable of playing zone or man.
3. Jimmie Ward | 5'11, 193 pounds | Safety | Northern Illinois
Most of the concerns with Ward's game are minor. He's not the ideal size to play safety, and his straight-line speed isn't incredible and he could do a bit better job of tackling at times. Despite his flaws, Ward has the skills to be an impact player in the secondary. He's laterally explosive and has the ability to diagnose plays. So many of the instinctual elements to safety come through in Ward's game consistently. He should be a late first-round pick.
4. Lamarcus Joyner | 5'8, 184 pounds | Safety | Florida State
Hey look everyone, Joyner is short! Done? Joyner is short. He knows it. Teams know it. But that shouldn't stop them from liking him. Forget his size. Joyner is a playmaker. He can play the run and the pass. And by play the pass, we mean dropping into coverage from the slot, patrolling the deep middle of the field and even blitzing the quarterback. Joyner is the utility knife of the 2014 draft. If teams want him solely as a depth piece, he can fill two roster spots because he can play both corner and safety and did so at Florida State.
5. Deone Bucannon | 6'1, 211 pounds | Safety | Washington State
Tight ends should hesitate working up the seam with Bucannon in coverage. He's capable of delivering crushing hits, separating the receiver from the ball. More importantly, he can run and cover tight ends in man situations. With his physical playing style, Bucannon is also an asset against the run.
6. Dion Bailey | 5'11 3/4, 201 pounds | Safety | Southern California *
7. Terrence Brooks | 5'10 7/8, 198 pounds | Safety | Florida State
8. Craig Loston | 6'0 5/8, 217 pounds | Safety | LSU
9. Tre Boston | 5'11 5/8, 204 pounds | Safety | North Carolina
10. Hakeem Smith | 6'0, 194 pounds | Safety | Louisville
11. Ahmad Dixon | 6'0, 212 pounds | Safety | Baylor
12. Marqueston Huff | 5'11, 196 pounds | Safety | Wyoming
13. Sean Parker | 5'10, 193 pounds | Safety | Washington
14. C.J. Barnett | 6'0, 204 pounds | Safety | Ohio State
15. Ed Reynolds | 6'1, 207 pounds | Safety | Stanford
16. Kenny Ladler | 6'0 1/8, 207 pounds | Safety | Vanderbilt
17. Vinnie Sunseri | 5'11, 210 pounds | Safety | Alabama *
18. Christian Bryant | 5'9, 198 pounds | Safety | Ohio State
19. Jonathan Dowling | 6'2 3/4, 190 pounds | Safety | Western Kentucky *
20. Ty Zimmerman | 6'1, 202 pounds | Safety | Kansas State
21. Isaiah Johnson | 6'2, 208 pounds | Safety | Georgia Tech
22. Jerry "BooBoo" Gates | 5'11, 213 pounds | Safety | Bowling Green
23. Isaiah Lewis | 5'9 7/8, 211 pounds | Safety | Michigan State