2011 NFL Combine: Safeties That Have A Lot To Gain And Lose

AUBURN AL - SEPTEMBER 18: Darvin Adams #89 of the Auburn Tigers fails to pull in this reception against DeAndre McDaniel #2 of the Clemson Tigers at Jordan-Hare Stadium on September 18 2010 in Auburn Alabama. (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)

Defensive Backs are probably the most effected by the NFL Combine. The drills really exploit any weaknesses that they may have. But just because a guy doesn't do well at the combine, he can still redeem himself at his respective pro day - a la Joe Haden from last years draft.

This year seems to be very deep at the defensive back position; particularly at the corner position, but we'll touch on those next Monday. Today's focus will be on the safeties.

The 49ers seem to have decent options in Dashon Goldson (assuming he returns), Reggie Smith, Taylor Mays, and C.J. Spillman (who was a special teams stud midway through the season last year). 

It's uncertain as to who will be starting on the back end for the 49ers next year, but the popular consensus has been a combination of Reggie Smith at free safety, and Taylor Mays at strong safety. Some people have even thrown out the idea of Nate Clements back there playing center field. If that winds up being the case, then where does that leave Goldson should he come back? It really seems that there is still an uncertainty as to who will be back there as the starting two for the 2011-2012 Season.

Should the 49ers grab a safety in the 2011 Draft? Or are the guys that are currently on the roster good for now? Those questions may not be answered until the preseason starts its decent to the regular season.

Let's jump down now to the guys this year that have a lot to gain and a lot to lose.

SAFETIES

Most to gain:

Deunta Williams (North Carolina), 6'2", 210 LBS: Williams' stock dropped significantly throughout the year. The year before, Williams was at the top of his class. Some even considered him to be the best safety prospect heading in to this year. Williams has a really good opportunity here come February 23rd-March 1st to show that he is still among the best of his class.

DeAndre McDaniel (Clemson), 6'1", 210 LBS: Much like Williams, McDaniel was at the very top of his repective class. Some people compared him to Eric Berry with his ability to ball hawk and hit guys hard enough to jar the ball loose. McDaniel's production tapered off from his junior year nearly getting chopped in half. However, a large part of that was due to the fact that teams simply were staying away from his side of the field. His teammate Marcus Gilchrist, who played corner on that side as well, made opposing offenses steer clear of their side. Some still consider McDaniel to be the best safety prospect in this year. He will have this one chance to showcase his skills and potentially be the number one safety off the board.

Robert Sands (West Virginia), 6'4", 215 LBS: Sands is by far the largest and most physical of the safeties entering in to the draft this year. It will be very important for Sands to show that he is more than an undersized outside linebacker that happens to be able to cover here and there. Should Sands do well in the turning drills and put up a nice 40-time, he quite potentially could have the most ground to gain. But on the flip side, because of his unique build, he could go the other way too.

 

Most to lose:

Rahim Moore (UCLA), 6'1", 200 LBS: Right now, Moore is by most considered to be the best safety coming out. His production fell from previous seasons, but his play did not. Pac 10 teams simply did not throw Moore's way too often. Moore and McDaniel will be going head to head for that number one spot as safety off the board even though one plays free safety and the other projects better as a strong safety. Either way, scouts and coaches that are looking for a good one, will be zeroed in on both players. Since Moore is seen as the best safety in the years class, he obviously has the most to lose if he doesn't do well.

Quinton Carter (Oklahoma), 6'1", 210 LBS: Carter was a bit streaky at the Senior Bowl, but did show signs and flashes that he could be good at the next level. He may be drafted initially to play as a back up, but he will earn his way through special teams. Carter had a very good season at Oklahoma, but was unable to stand out as a premier safety. He is rated pretty high on most boards, so it will be imperative that he at least has a solid performance and interviews well.

Ahmad Black (Florida), 5'9", 190 LBS: Mike Mayock has spoken rather highly of Ahmad Black. He is a bit on the smaller side of what a prototypical safety is, but that didn't seem to stop guys like Bob Sanders once they were in the NFL. Black's size will be a major concern, but if he blows away the competition, he's more than likley going to raise his stock quite a bit. However, the reason he is on the most to lose side, is because if he doesn't, its probable that the size thing will be enough to justify a later round pick on him which in turn could cost him quite a bit of money on his rookie contract. In essence, Black probably has the most to gain and lose.

 

Here are the rest of the safeties that were invited:

CARTER, QUINTON

 

OKLAHOMA

10

DB12

FS

CONTE, CHRISTOPHER

CHRIS

CALIFORNIA

10

DB14

FS

HILL, WILL

 

FLORIDA

10

DB22

FS

JARRETT, JAIQUAWN

 

TEMPLE

10

DB26

FS

LEGREE, MARK

 

APPALACHIAN ST

11

DB30

FS

MOORE, RAHIM

 

UCLA

11

DB35

FS

SANDS, ROBERT

 

WEST VIRGINIA

11

DB41

FS

TARRANT, JERRARD

 

GEORGIA TECH

11

DB48

FS

WILLIAMS, DEUNTA

 

NORTH CAROLINA

11

DB54

FS

GOMES, DEJON

 

NEBRASKA

10

DB19

OB

HAGG, ERIC

 

NEBRASKA

10

DB20

OB

BLACK, AHMAD

 

FLORIDA

10

DB3

SS

HINES, JERMALE

 

OHIO ST

10

DB23

SS

JOHNSON, JERON

 

BOISE ST

10

DB27

SS

KEO, SHILOH

 

IDAHO

10

DB28

SS

LEFEGED, JOSEPH

JOE

RUTGERS

11

DB29

SS

MCDANIEL, DEANDRE

 

CLEMSON

11

DB33

SS

SASH, TYLER

 

IOWA

11

DB42

SS

SEARCY, DA'NORRIS

 

NORTH CAROLINA

11

DB43

SS

SIMS, DAVID

 

IOWA ST

11

DB45

SS

WILLIAMS, NATHAN

NATE

WASHINGTON

11

DB55

SS

 

X
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