Earlier this week, Mike Mayock posted his first positional rankings of the 2016 NFL Draft season. On Thursday, we took a look at quarterbacks, on Friday we took a look at inside linebackers, and then interior offensive linemen, and on Saturday we looked at tight ends. We're going to continue moving through these position-by-position, and for this post we move over to the safety position
Here's how Mayock ranked out the top five safeties in the 2016 NFL Draft:
1. Karl Joseph, West Virginia
2. Vonn Bell, Ohio State
3. Darien Thompson, Boise State
4. Miles Killebrew, Southern Utah
5. Jeremy Cash, Duke
Cornerback Jalen Ramsey has experience at safety, but is likely viewed as a cornerback heading into the NFL. I suppose he could end up sliding back to safety later in his career, but look for him to play cornerback this fall.
The 49ers head into this offseason with a safety depth chart that includes Eric Reid at one position, Jaquiski Tartt and Antoine Bethea on the other side, Jimmie Ward as the nickel back but with safety experience, and L.J. McCray as primarily a special teams player.
I could see the 49ers potentially adding a defensive back who can play both safety and cornerback for depth, but the bigger question is who will start next to Reid. Bethea was the starter before he got hurt, and has looked good for the 49ers over the last two years. But Tartt got a lot of time in his rookie year following Bethea's injury, and was getting opportunities even before that. He struggled at times, but showed plenty of potential.
One option would be cutting Bethea and moving forward with Tartt. The other option is starting Bethea, and giving Tartt a robust rotational role. If Tartt gets the starting nod, Bethea will not be around come Week 1. But I do think there is still a possibility we see Bethea sticking around.