Though there’s no top-10 type safety and maybe only one who will be drafted in the first round this year, this year’s class has a strong group of prospects with good size (210 pounds ore more) and decent athletic ability, as measured by the testing at the scouting combine at that position. Not all players did all tests, and some did none or only one.
The Packers are in the market for a starting safety after cutting Charles Woodson this offseason and are a decent candidate to use a pick at that position in the first three rounds.
The safety who tested best isn’t among the best prospects at the position. Syracuse’s Shamarko Thomas had the fastest 40-yard dash among the safeties (4.42 seconds), the most bench-press reps (28), tied for the highest vertical jump (40 ½ inches) and had the third-longest broad jump (11-feet-1). But he’s only 5-feet-9, so even though he’s a stout 213 pounds he’s probably a third-round type prospect. Some teams, the Packers included, have height minimums (around 5-10 or 5-10 ½ inches) that they rarely if ever ignore, so they likely have Thomas downgraded. Other teams might think his vertical jump goes a long way toward compensating for his height. Keep in mind the Packers thought that about cornerback Ahmad Carroll when they selected him in the first round of the 2004 draft even though he was only 5-9 5/8. He ended up a total bust.
The safety generally rated No. 1 going into the combine, and who might be selected as high as the middle of the first round, is Texas’ Kenny Vacarro (6-0 ½, 210). His 4.63-second 40 was mediocre for the position, which might give some teams pause about his range, but his vertical (38 inches) and three-cone drill (6.78 seconds) suggest he has good quickness and explosiveness. In the end he probably didn’t hurt his draft standing.
Another lower-rated player who might have helped himself was Georgia’s Sanders Commings. He played primarily cornerback in college and looks like a late-round pick, but has a safety’s body type (6-0, 216) and might move up some if looked at as a prospect at that position. If he’d been grouped with the safeties at the combine, then he ran the fastest 40 at the position, 4.41 seconds, one one-hundredth of a second faster than Thomas. Commings’ other tests weren’t of Thomas’ caliber – 34 ½-inch vertical, a 9-9 broad jump.
Florida’s Matt Elam is potential late first round or early second round pick, though his height (5-10) is a concern. His 40 (4.54 seconds) and vertical (35 ½ inches) and broad jump (9-10) were respectable.
Of the possible second- to third-round type safeties, LSU’s Eric Reid (6-1, 213) had a good workout, especially for a bigger safety. His 40 (4.53 seconds) and three-cone (6.99 seconds) were good, and his vertical (40 ½ inches) was excellent.
Florida International’s John Cyprien is another bigger safety (6-0 ¼, 217) and did only the vertical, where he had a strong 38 ½-inch leap.
Georgia’s Shawn Williams (5-11 7/8, 213) ran an excellent 4.46 seconds, was strong for a safety on the bench press (25 reps), and had a solid broad jump (10-0) and three-cone drill (7.01 seconds).
Oklahoma’s Tony Jefferson (5-11, 213) ran slow (4.75 seconds), which has to raise some red flags.
South Carolina’s D.J. Swearinger (5-11, 210) didn’t run all that well either (4.67 seconds) but had an exceptional three-cone (6.70 seconds) and broad jump (10-4), and a good vertical (38 inches).