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2020 NFL Draft: 5 safety prospects who could interest the Giants

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Could the Giants find the free safety they’ve been looking for in the 2020 draft?

NCAA Football: Louisiana State at Mississippi Vasha Hunt-USA TODAY Sports

The New York Giants have work to do at pretty much every area of their roster. They need to reinforce and upgrade a number of positions on both their offense and defense. The Giants have struggled to find answers at the safety position for the least two years. They appear to have found an answer at box safety with the transition of Julian Love from cornerback to safety. Free safety, however, is still a problem after Curtis Riley and Antoine Bethea proved to be liabilities on the back end.

The safety market is growing, with Chicago Bears safety Eddie Jackson signing a four-year, $58 million contract extension on Friday.

The Giants will likely be better served to look to the draft to try and find a free safety to give them stability on the back end of their defense.

Grant Delpit (LSU)

Delpit was widely considered one of the top prospects in the nation coming in to the 2019 season, showing the frame, high football IQ, range, ball skills, and tackling teams need to see from a complete safety prospect. He still has all of those traits, but didn’t take the step forward many were anticipating this year. He is still a very good prospect — he has experience playing all over a very good LSU defense, in coverage, run defense, and blitzing — but isn’t as highly regarded as he once was.

The Giants could target Delpit if they get a good offer to trade back in the first round. He and Love would make a formidable duo, and allow Jabrill Peppers to transition to more of a linebacker role, which is where he has played his best.

Xavier McKinney (Alabama)

The “other” top safety prospect in this draft, Alabama’s Xavier McKinney hasn’t received quite as much press as Delpit, but he is a very good prospect in his own right. He is a long, athletic safety with the ability to play in deep zones as well as play closer to the line of scrimmage as a run defender, blitzer, or even as a nickel defender.

He can have a tendency toward overly aggressive angles, but he makes up for it by also being a good, physical tackler.

Ashtyn Davis (Cal)

While the Giants might have to trade back in the first round to make the value of acquiring Delpit or McKinney palatable, they could likely acquire Cal’s Ashtyn Davis in the second round and nobody would bat an eye. Davis, a red-shirt senior, is an experienced player who has 45 games under his belt at the collegiate level. He isn’t a truly elite athlete, but he is a fluid mover with plenty of range and the mental footwork to maximize his athletic potential.

Davis has a good football IQ and competitive toughness, as well as a willingness to be a run defender. He should be a good all-around free safety at the NFL level and has the ability to be a special teams ace as well. He has experience on all special teams and lead the NCAA in kick returns in 2017.

Antoine Winfield Jr. (Minnesota)

Son of the former Buffalo Bills and Minnesota Vikings Pro Bowl cornerback, Winfield emerged on the national scene this year and played a big role in Minnesota’s rise.

The 21-year-old Winfield jr. is actually a red-shirt sophomore thanks to injury waivers granted in 2017 and 2018, but he was dominant once healthy in 2019. Winfield Jr. racked up 83 total tackles, 3.5 tackles for a loss, 3.0 sacks, and 7 interceptions (1 touchdown) this past year, and was a presence all over the field. He was only credited with one pass defensed this year, but that’s because he was picking them off rather than batting them away.

Assuming he declares, Winfield Jr. is almost certain to hear his name called on the second day of the draft and could see his stock rise throughout the process with a strong showing at the NFL Scouting Combine.

Julian Blackmon (Utah)

The Giants might be interested in trying another cornerback convert at the safety position. If so, they could look to Utah’s Julian Blackmon, who made the switch prior to the 2019 season. Blackmon has a protypical frame for a safety at 6-foot-1, 204 pounds and good athleticism as a former cornerback. He doesn’t have the fluidity or quickness to stay on the outside at the NFL level, but he might be able to play in the slot as a nickel defender as well as put his range to use in deep zones.

Blackmon has good ball skills, with 20 passes defensed and 9 interceptions (two returned for touchdowns) over the last three years. He is still raw as a safety prospect, but his physical tools, ball skills, and experience are intriguing. He could be a developmental prospect and a good value early on the third day of the draft.