June 24, 2021


Hub Arkush’s 2021 NFL draft positional preview: Safety

Few positions in the NFL draft provide All-Pro and Pro Bowl-level talent from every round as consistently as the safety spot does.

Yes, we occasionally get the can’t-misses in the first round such as Earl Thomas and Jamal Adams, but study the histories of the Bears – Gary Fencik, Todd Bell, Dave Duerson, Mark Carrier, Mike Brown and, most recently, Eddie Jackson – and you see immediately that star safeties can be found all over.

A look at the Bears’ current roster with Jackson, Deon Bush, Jordan Lucas, DeAndre Houston-Carson and Marqui Christian suggests reasonable depth at the position, but the reality is all but Jackson are veteran career backups, and none are an ideal complement to him.

That makes the position one of the Bears’ top three needs and far greater than cornerback, where folks seem to be focused because of the loss of Kyle Fuller while not studying the current depth chart.

This year’s class of prospects appears pretty average overall and is missing a sure first-round pick with at least half a dozen or so likely to be targeted on Day 2.

Since all will likely be there at the 20th pick, and most or all could be there at No. 52, we will consider all are potential targets for the Bears.

1. Jamar Johnson, Indiana (6-0, 205, Junior)

What sticks out most about Johnson are his coverage skills and instincts. He is a willing tackler but not a thumper and will need to add technique as a tackler, but he appears to have a natural feel for the game. He can lead a secondary, make all the necessary coverage calls, and although he may never be an All-Pro, I’ll bet he starts in the league for the next decade or so. Looks to be a very safe pick.

2. Jevon Holland, Oregon (6-1, 207, Junior)

Holland is a true ball hawk who isn’t afraid to get in the box and stick his nose in either, and he has punt-return skills to boot. He opted out in 2020 and probably is a hair slower than you’d like, so don’t think about trying him at cornerback, but he has plenty of speed to run with tight ends, running backs and most receivers. He played wideout in high school and will win as many contested balls as he loses.

3. Trevon Moehrig, Texas Christian (6-1, 202, Junior)

Excellent size, strength and speed numbers make Moehrig an intriguing prospect and could make him the first safety off the board this year, but I’m not quite as high on him as others because he appeared to take a slight step back last season after an excellent sophomore campaign. He played corner in high school and was an excellent special teams contributor at TCU. He will be a good one if he can focus and go full speed all the time, but he may take a little while.

4. Divine Deablo, Virginia Tech (6-3, 226, Redshirt Senior)

I love this kid, and he is my favorite safety in this draft for more than just a great shot at the all-name team. He’s a true in-the-box type, arriving at a time when the league doesn’t value that position as it did a couple of years ago. He will stuff the run and may not be ideal for man-to-man coverage, but he can cover, especially bigger bodies, and he has a nose for the ball. Could be perfect paired with someone such as Jackson.

5. Richie Grant, Central Florida (6-0, 197, Redshirt Senior)

Another ball hawk with great ball skills, but most of his measurables are only above average or slightly better.

6. Tyree Gillespie, Missouri (6-0, 207, Senior)

This kid is a very good football player, probably will be an excellent special teams addition and still has room to grow, but it’s hard to ignore a full college career without an interception.

7. Andre Cisco, Syracuse (6-1, 216, Junior)

Cisco has ideal size, strength and athleticism for the position and loves putting a hat on people. But his techniques are shaky, and he will need time if he is going to reach his high ceiling.

8. Hamsah Nasirildeen, Florida St. (6-3, 215, Senior)

High character, excellent athlete, but Nasirildeen’s development has been slowed by a 2019 ACL tear from which he was quite limited last season. A great gamble if he’s still there in the fifth round.

Hub Arkush

Hub Arkush is a Bears/NFL Insider for Shaw Media