The 2018 NFL Draft starts on Thursday night. As a preview we’re going through position-by-position to take a look at the roster and figure out what the Giants need to address. Our next stop is the back end of the defense at safety.
Players lost: Nat Berhe
Players added: Michael Thomas
Current roster: Andrew Adams, Landon Collins, Ryan Murphy, Tim Scott, Michael Thomas, Darian Thompson
Landon Collins is one of the best safeties in the NFL and then… well there’s a few question marks. Darian Thompson will be the front runner to be the starter at free safety, but Andrew Adams has also played well in his brief playing time.
Michael Thomas, the only free agent signing at the position, has been little more than a special teams ace over the past few seasons. He played on just 14.4 percent of Miami’s defensive snaps in 2017.
This is a position where there is a lot more unknown than known, especially considering there were times James Bettcher played as many as seven defensive backs on the field at a time while defensive coordinator of the Arizona Cardinals. However, the draft might not be the only place to look. There are still a handful of useful free agents who have yet to be signed including Tre Boston, Eric Reid, and Kenny Vaccaro.
Cornerback is a much bigger need in the secondary and if there is a safety pick, it could be for a player who can also operate in the slot.
Derwin James is arguably the best defensive player in the draft (I would make that argument), but he would likely only be a first-round option with a trade back. James has the ability to play anywhere on the defense from a single-high deep safety to outside corner to slot corner to moneybacker.
Justin Reid could be an option early in the second round if he doesn’t go in the first. The former Stanford Cardinal was routinely asked to cover tight ends and slot receivers on top of his typical safety duties.
A late option could be Nebraska’s Joshua Kalu. Kalu was a cornerback who transitioned to safety in 2017, though only played in nine games due to a hamstring injury. He has the arm length Dave Gettleman looks for in defensive backs (85th percentile) and the athleticism James Bettcher covets (95th percentile in SPARQ despite a disappointing 43rd percentile 40-time of 4.58).