Bob McGinn of the Milwaukee Journal is a beast at finding out good information before the NFL Draft. He has a series in which we have been keeping up with on his website, and we wanted to share what the scouts from the NFL are saying about the top safeties of the draft . Here is what they said, and you can read others here as well:
1. KARL JOSEPH, West Virginia (5-9 ½, 206, 4.55, 2): Possibly the hardest hitter in the draft. “He will separate you from your helmet,” said one scout. “He hits you, the play is over. He’s knocked out I think eight people in his career. For a guy that is an absolute meteorite as a tackler, he’s a pretty good tackler, too. Before he got hurt this year he had five interceptions in (four) games. His biggest questions are height and prolonged durability.” Suffered a torn ACL in practice but is on schedule to play this season. “Love this kid,” said another scout. “Bright, humble. He’s built well, he will hold up physically and he can cover.” Started 42 games, finishing with 194 tackles (16 ½ for loss), 9 picks and 8 PBUs. “Oh, man, he’s tough as hell,” said a third scout. “He’s something else.” From Orlando, Fla. Wonderlic of 18.
2. VONN BELL, Ohio State (5-11, 201, 4.52, 2-3): Third-year junior. “There’s your free safety,” one scout said. “He’s got corner traits. Drops down, plays the spot. Does a lot of things good, nothing great. He’s not a banger but he’s a solid tackler. You think of him as a cover safety. Plays the post. Very good ball skills. Good speed, not great.” Started 28 of 42 games, finishing with 176 tackles (four for loss), 9 picks and 15 PBUs. “He’s a starter in the league,” a second scout said. “He’s more your intangible guy. I don’t think there’s anything special about him. Average size, average speed. He’d be third round at best.” From Rossville, Ga. Wonderlic of 16. “A lot of hype because the program he went to and their success,” said a third scout. “I feel he is way overrated. He doesn’t play very strong. He falls off tackles.”
3. KEANU NEAL, Florida (6-0 ½, 211, 4.60, 2-3): Third-year junior from Bushnell, Fla. “From the standpoint of being a hammer against the run and a tone-setting guy, he’ll be a starting strong safety,” one scout said. “You’ll worry a little bit if he gets matched up in man coverage. For the most part, he protects himself from being in bad position. He may get caught every blue moon. He’s not Kenny Vaccaro in coverage.” Started 19 of 34 games, finishing with 146 tackles (4 ½ for loss), 4 picks and 9 PBUs. “He’s got a really nice body and a great kid,” another scout said. “He’s a big-time hitter but he left a lot of plays on the field. He missed a lot of tackles. He has to clean up his open-field tackling. He’s got a lot of potential.” Extremely large hands (10 5/8). Wonderlic of 18. Added a third scout: “Good player, just not fast. He’s more (Deone) Bucannon.”
4. DARIAN THOMPSON, Boise State (6-2, 211, 4.61, 2-3): Intercepted 19 passes in a four-year career, breaking Eric Weddle’s record in the Mountain West Conference. “Probably the smartest safety in the draft,” said one scout. “I wish he ran just a step faster. I would envision him developing into a starter, probably in Year 2.” Wonderlic of 29. “Really good ball skills and natural cover skills,” said another scout. “Can match up with tight ends. Doesn’t have the explosive long burst but can cover the hash and be a single-high safety. He finds the ball. … His tackling is above average, at best. He doesn’t have knock-back power as a tackler. Kind of gets his guy down. More of a wrap-grab tackler.” Finished with 242 tackles (15 for loss), the 19 picks and 9 PBUs. “On tape I didn’t see the speed deficiency,” a third scout said. “He played a lot of man coverage. Like him.” From Lancaster, Calif.
5. SU’A CRAVENS, Southern California (6-0 ½, 223, 4.70, 3): Third-year junior from Los Angeles. “Probably the hardest guy to evaluate,” said one scout. “They played him at linebacker at USC. Is he a safety? I don’t think so. Is he a linebacker? I don’t think so. Is he a solid football player? Yeah. Arizona took Deone Bucannon two years, he started out at safety and now he’s an inside linebacker. I think that’s what this kid is. For a 4-3 team he’s probably not much different than Shaq Thompson that went first round last year.” Started all 40 games, finishing with 207 tackles (34 ½ for loss), nine picks, 16 PBUs and 10 ½ sacks. “Space player,” another scout said. “I don’t know how physical he is inside the box. He is athletic.” Wonderlic of 24. “He’s a pretend player in a lot of ways,” said a third scout. “Bucannon is where he fits. I read where he wants to be a safety. He better say I want to be wherever they want me to be. I don’t think he makes enough plays. He’s one of those guys that gets up late so you call his name. That’s a bit of an exaggeration but there was some pretending tough guy to him.”
6. MILES KILLEBREW, Southern Utah (6-2, 218, 4.55, 3): After not lifting weights as a high school player in Henderson, Nev., he redshirted in 2011 and then started all four seasons at SS. “When he hits you he knocks you back,” said one scout. “Really good tackler. More of a box player than a guy you want playing the deep half. Kind of rigid athletically but has really good straight-line speed.” Led safeties in the Wonderlic (38) and on the bench press (22 reps). Finished with 356 tackles (9 ½ for loss), 3 picks and 21 PBUs. On some boards as a WLB. “He’s really put together but he can’t cover,” said a second scout. “He’s tight. He has no change of direction.”