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Top Prospects In the 2024 NFL Draft: The Safety Group

Wrapping up Nate Gosney's 2024 NFL Draft "My Guys" list is the Safety Class. With a lack of top-end talent, there are plenty of gems late.

Wrapping up Nate Gosney‘s 2024 NFL Draft “My Guys” list is the Safety Class. This year’s group has plenty of talented individuals in the later rounds, giving teams value selections. That being said, the top-end talent is quite lacking, and due to Safety not being a premium position, I would expect zero Safeties to go in the first round.

Note: This list is curated as more of a favorites list; or a “my guys” list, not exactly the absolute best players from each position.

Jaden Hicks

Jaden Hicks is the dark horse Safety #1 for me in the 2024 NFL Draft. The Washington State Safety will be 21 years old on draft night and looks to be drafted on day two, as he is currently ranked 72 on the 2024 NFL Draft Consensus Big Board.

Standing at 6’1 211, with a strong RAS score of 8.94, Hicks brings NFL-caliber size. Beyond his basic athletic profile, Hicks brings great physicality to the run game, having experience tackling from all different depths on the field. This leads to his coverage versatility, playing anywhere from linebacker, to the slot, to deep safety, to robber safety. Furthermore, great communication and general football IQ lead to big plays all over.

The main concern for Hicks lies in a lack of range. If he’s late to his assignment, which is rare, he will likely not be able to make it in time to make the play. He couples the lack of straight-line speed with poor pursuit angles which definitely leads to more big plays to pop up. Hicks projects as a day-one starter with room to become a true decade-long reliable starter.

Malik Mustapha

Do you need a Safety to set the tone? Someone that you may worry is a little crazy? A player who strikes fear into opposing ball-carriers? Look no further than Wake Forests’ Malik Mustapha. The 2024 NFL Draft prospect plays like a bull who sees red and is only projected to go in the fifth round.

Ranking at 142 on the NFL Draft Consensus Board, Mustapha can easily come into an NFL team and establish himself a role both on defense and on special teams. His skill set as a box safety who will completely lay the boom, projects very well as a special teamer. Furthermore, the 9.38 RAS score, shows an upside for Mustapha to eventually grow into a well-rounded safety. A player who is more than a run defender who can strike fear.

As hinted before, the Wake Forest Safety does struggle in coverage, playing much more reactive than proactive. Play experience is a very likely way for Mustapha to get better in his reaction times. Beyond the minor coverage concerns, the main thing that scares scouts is his biggest positive. Hitting the absolute heck out of receivers. This can lead to penalties, suspensions, and fines. Beyond that, his aggression can lead to missed tackles, and poor angles because of his want to lay the boom rather than making the play.

Kitan Oladapo

Kitan Oladapo is someone who is getting some buzz to be a complete steal in the 2024 NFL Draft. Oladapo is from Oregon State, being labeled mainly as a box guy, but has shown more than enough to play many different spots. His current projection is to be a special teamer who can play on defense. Lastly, Oladapo was a team captain for Oregon State, and will now look to continue doing so in the NFL.

The main positives with Oladapo are his size, ball skills, and toughness. He is able to line up on tight ends and create big plays with his immaculate ball skills. This combined with his want to be the “guy” in the run game, gives good value for someone who is 159 on the 2024 NFL Draft Consensus Big Board.

The main concern with Oladapo is that he lacks agility. When in transition from his back pedal to a full sprint he cannot do so smoothly. Furthermore, his age of 23 is something that some scouts may dislike. His RAS score of 8.12 is really strong, but he did not test in the agility area. This causes more questions in that aspect of his game. Overall, I would look to see Oladapo as a player who will be around for a long time, but may not ever be a top-10-level safety. A solid player for a long time in the fifth is great value to me.

Main Photo: Craig Strobeck-USA TODAY Sports


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