NFL Draft

2023 Draft Safety Prospects: PFF Grades And Big Board Ranks

Today I wanted to look at safety prospects in the upcoming draft, a position at which the Pittsburgh Steelers could be looking to upgrade/add depth. The graph below uses their 2022 PFF Grade and their current rank on PFF’s Big Board that updates through the draft process:

The top overall player on PFF’s current board at the position is Alabama safety Brian Branch at number 14. He saw an increased workload each of the last three years (768, 624, 290), and primarily played in the slot (569, 411, 202) along with 100+ the last two seasons in the box. In 2022, he had the top ranked 89.5 overall grade, excellent 90+ run defense grade, mid 80 coverage grade, along with an excellent 3.3% missed tackle rate, good 15.8% forced incompletion rate, and a 3.1 average depth of run tackle. Branch tied for the top rank in college football with 19 coverage stops, allowed 36 receptions on 57 targets (63.2 completion rate) and two touchdowns, had two interceptions, tied for tenth with a great 24 run stops, a 69.3 passer rating allowed (172nd), and a great nine forced incompletions (T-eighth). His production improved as well, with 74 tackles and 15 assists last season, 45 tackles and 11 assists previously, and 21/4 on much less opportunity in 2020. Branch was a combine invite, and while many were underwhelmed with his testing, was very comparable to the recently departed Cameron Sutton athletically (link from RAS) that Pittsburgh met with formally at the event.

The first player that would start day two of the draft on PFF’s current board is Texas A&M’s Antonio Johnson. He had the most snaps in 2021 (800), compared to just 159 previously and 582 last season, playing the slot primarily along with 100+ in the box the last two years, and 110 at deep safety in 2022. He had a low 80 overall grade, mid 80 run defense grade, upper 70 coverage grade, along with an average 15.5% missed tackle rate, but a 0% forced incompletion rate, and 3.9 average depth of run tackle. Johnson had 11 coverage stops (T-32nd), allowed 20 receptions on 29 targets (69% completion rate) and one touchdown, no interceptions, had 17 run stops (T-64th), a 91.2 passer rating allowed (358th) and no forced incompletions. His tackle rates improved last season on over 200 less snaps, with 55 tackles and 16 assists, compared to 58 tackles and 18 assists in 2021. He was a combine invite, and had an informal meeting with the Steelers there.

Sydney Brown of Illinois had 360 snaps in 2020 when he played 139 snaps at deep safety along with 109 in the box, then saw the most opportunity in 2021 with nearly 800 snaps with 433 in the box and 100+ at deep and slot alignments, and 742 total snaps last season with over 400 in the box again and 177 in the slot. In 2022, he had an upper 70 overall grade, awesome upper 80 coverage grade, and average upper 60 run defense grade, along with a slightly below average 16.5% missed tackle rate, a good 17.4% forced incompletion rate, and 4.7 average depth of run tackle. Brown had nine coverage stops (T-81st), allowed 27 receptions on 46 targets (58.7 catch rate) and one touchdown, had a whopping six interceptions, 16 run stops (T-81st), a strong 49.6 passer rating allowed (63rd) and eight forced incompletions (T-13th). His tackling production was better in 2021 when he had 67 with 11 assists, compared to 56/15 last year and 28/10 in 2020. Brown was a Senior Bowl participant, with our own Alex Kozora noting a good practice week showing physicality but size a negative, Tyler Wise highlighting his playmaking with the second rank in interceptions last year, a tape grinder good in coverage and against size, putting impressive pass breakups on tape. He was also a combine invite, posting elite numbers in his testing but confirming concerning height (5096) that’s lower than Pittsburgh typically looks for.

Florida State’s Jammie Robinson saw an increased workload each year (796, 755, 679), playing over 400 snaps in the slot and 100+ in the box in 2020, then 350+ in the slot, over 200 at deep safety, and 178 in the box the following season, and shifted to more deep safety role in 2021 with 352 snaps, along with 252 in the box and 150+ in the slot. Last year, he had low 80 overall and run defense grades, an upper 70 coverage grade, along with a great 7.4% missed tackle rate, good 16% forced incompletion rate, and a 7.1 average depth of run tackle. Robinson had eight coverage stops (T-113th), allowed 14 receptions on 25 targets (56% completion rate) and one touchdown, had one interception, 15 run stops (T-98th), a 74.3 passer rating allowed (205th) and four forced incompletions (T-130th). His tackling numbers increased particularly last year, with 65 tackles and 23 assists in 2022, 58 and 13 assists the prior year, and 56/13 in 2020. Robinson was a Senior Bowl participant and made my game notes with two good tackles on catches that included a swing pass, and had a fantastic special-teams play downing a punt at the one-yard line, but poor downfield coverage on a severely underthrown pass leading to a touchdown. He was also a Combine invite and had a formal meeting with Pittsburgh.

Jordan Battle of Alabama played a ton the last three seasons (907, 964, 820), primarily at deep safety each year along with 243 in the box in 2020, 250+ in the box and slot corner in 2021, and over 100 at box and slot in 2022. He had a low 80 overall grade, mid 80 coverage grade, low 70 run defense grade, along with a good 11.8% missed tackle rate, slightly below average 9.1% forced incompletion rate, and an 8.4 average depth of run tackle. Battle had six coverage stops (T-230th), allowed 17 receptions on 22 targets (77.3 completion rate) and one touchdown, had an interception, just five run stops (T-502nd), an 87.9 passer rating allowed (T-321st), and two forced incompletions (T-361st). His best tackling production came in 2021 with 63 tackles and 23 assists, 51/19 the previous season, compared to less tackles of 42 and 18 assists in 2022 despite more opportunity. Battle was a Senior Bowl invite but withdrew and was a Combine participant with good size and speed numbers that met formally with the Steelers.

Georgia’s Christopher Smith had increased snaps the last three years (812, 597, 415) and played deep safety primarily, along with 100+ slot snaps each season, and 130+ in the box in 2022. He had a mid 70 overall grade, mid 80 run defense grade, low 70 coverage grade, along with a slightly above average 15.1% missed tackle rate, above average 11.8% forced incompletion rate, and a 5.3 average depth of run tackle. Smith had a good 11 coverage stops (T-32nd), allowed 20 receptions on 34 targets (58.8 catch rate) and one touchdown, provided three interceptions, but seven run stops (T-391st), a good 50 passer rating allowed (65th), and four forced incompletions (T-130th). His tackling production improved as expected, with 52 tackles and ten assists last year, compared to 30 and four previously, and 19/9 in 2020. Smith was a Senior Bowl participant and made my game notes with a few positive run tackles (one on the edge). But negatives included a missed pass breakup, a missed tackle on a run, and a big defensive pass interference when he was beat on a double move. Smith was also a combine invite.

Now for players outside PFF’s top 100, starting with Boise State’s JL Skinner, who had the most snaps in 2021 (716) when he played around 300 in the box and deep safety, with just over 400 total snaps in 2020 playing 183 deep and 100+ in the box, and 618 last year primarily in the box (346) and 128 deep, and played 100+ in the slot in each of the last two seasons. In 2022, he had a mid 70 overall grade, low 80 coverage grade, but mid 60 run defense grade, along with an above average 12% missed tackle and 12.5% forced incompletion rates, and a 6.9 average depth of run tackle. Skinner had just five coverage stops (T-318th) allowed 17 receptions on 32 targets (53.1 completion rate) and one touchdown, provided four interceptions, had 14 run stops (T-122nd), a strong 40.1 passer rating allowed (38th), and four forced incompletions (T-130th). His best season as a tackler was 2021, with 72 tackles and 16 assists, compared to 52 and 14 last season on nearly 100 less snaps, and 31/six in 2020. Skinner was a Senior Bowl invite but was dealing with a family issue, and confirmed elite size at his Combine weigh-in.

Ohio State’s Ronnie Hickman had 700+ snaps the last two years after a minimal 47 opportunities in 2020, playing primarily in the box along with 200+ at deep safety and 100+ in the slot each of the last two seasons. Last year, he had a mid 80 overall grade, an upper 80 coverage grade, mid 70 run defense grade, along with a slightly below average 16.9% missed tackle rate, a good 20% forced incompletion rate, and a 5.8 average depth of run tackle. Hickman had just five coverage stops (T-318th), allowed 13 catches on 30 targets (solid 43.3 catch rate) and no touchdowns, one interception, but seven run stops (T-391st), a solid 39.2 passer rating allowed (33rd) and six forced incompletions (T-43rd). He had 39 tackles and 15 assists, a down year in production last season compared to 79 tackles and 18 assists in 2021 on similar snaps. Hickman was a Senior Bowl participant that was notably beat bad in coverage in practice and weighed in at the Combine with good size.

Ji’Ayir Brown of Penn State had the most snaps in 2021 (721) with 300+ box snaps, 269 at deep safety, and 121 in the slot, following that up with 679 last season when he played 345 deep and 100+ in the box and slot, after just 130 opportunities in 2020. In 2022, he had an upper 70 overall grade, mid 70 coverage grade, mid 60 run defense grade, along with an above average 13.9% missed tackle rate, but poor 3.4% forced incompletion rate, and a 6.1 average depth of run tackle. Brown had an impressive 17 coverage stops (T-fourth), allowed 22 catches on 29 targets (poor 75.9 completion rate) and no touchdowns, provided four interceptions, ten run stops (T-233rd), a 56.3 passer rating allowed (T-92nd), but only one forced incompletion (T-511th). He had 60 tackles and eight assists last year, compared to 66 and seven in 2021 on a bit more opportunity. Brown was a Senior Bowl invite but didn’t participate. He worked out at the Combine where he had a formal meeting with Pittsburgh.

Jartavius Martin of Illinois saw an increased workload each of the last three years (791, 592, 245) playing primarily in the slot, along with 177 at deep safety in 2022. He had a low 70 overall grade, a great 90+ run defense grade, but mid 60 coverage grade, along with an average 56.8% allowed completion rate. Martin forced 15 incompletions which tied for 14th amongst cornerbacks, allowed 42 catches on 74 targets and three touchdowns, provided three interceptions, had nine coverage stops (T-113th), dropped two interceptions, and missed four tackles. Martin was a Senior Bowl participant with Wise noting a good first two days of practice and had a nice Combine workout with elite speed and explosion.

Memphis’ Quindell Johnson played the most in 2021 (928 snaps) with 300+ at deep safety and in the box along with 262 in the slot, with 766 total snaps previously when he had 365 deep, and nearly 200 in the box and the slot, and in 2022 had 743 snaps with 291 deep, 281 slot, and 163 in the box. He had a mid 70 overall grade, a great upper 80 run defense grade, but upper 60 coverage grade, along with a below average 18.9% missed tackle rate, a slightly above average 11.1% forced incompletion rate, and a 6.4 average depth of run tackle. Johnson had seven coverage stops (T-160th), allowed 32 catches on 54 targets (59.3 catch rate) and two touchdowns, provided four interceptions, had 14 run stops (T-122nd), a 63.7 passer rating allowed (141st), and a good six forced incompletions (T-43rd). His highest tackle totals came in 2021 as expected (80) with 21 assists, and had 69 and 15 previously, then matching the 69 tackles but a lower 8 assists last season on similar opportunity.

Rashad Torrence of Florida saw the most opportunity in 2021 (803 snaps) playing the most at deep safety (386) and around 200 in the box and in the slot, had 195 total snaps in 2020 snaps in the 60’s at each spot, and 670 snaps last season with 370 deep, 184 in the box, and just over 100 in the slot. Last season, he had mid 70 overall and coverage grades, but an upper 60 run defense grade, along with an above average 12.1% missed tackle rate, slightly below average 8.7% forced incompletion rate, and an 11 average depth of run tackle. Torrence had just five coverage stops (T-318th), allowed 14 catches on 23 targets (60.7 completion rate) and two touchdowns, had no interceptions, just six run stops (T-452nd), a poor 106.8 passer rating allowed, and just two forced incompletions (T-361st). His tackling improved the last two seasons despite less playing time in 2022, when he had 65 tackles with 22 assists compared to 65 and 14 the previous year. Torrence was a Combine invite and most notably posted a poor 4.72 40-yard dash.

Notre Dame’s Brandon Joseph had the most snaps in 2021 (816) with 346 in the box and 200+ at deep safety and in the slot, and previously played 620 total snaps with 270 in the box along with 100+ deep and slot snaps, then had 431 snaps last year with 231 deep and close to 100 at both slot and box alignments. In 2022, he had a low 70 overall grade, upper 70 coverage grade, but a below average 62 run defense grade, along with a good 11.1% missed tackle rate, below average 5.9% forced incompletion rate, and 9.1 average depth of run tackle. Joseph had only four coverage stops (T-402nd), allowed 11 catches on 17 targets (64.7 completion rate) and one touchdown, had one interception, three run stops (T-628th), a 70.7 passer rating allowed (182nd), and one forced incompletion (T-511th). His tackling production aligned with his snap counts, 60 tackles with 21 assists in 2021, 39 and 12 the previous season, and 23/nine in 2022. Joseph was a Combine invite and received interest from Pittsburgh with an informal meeting.

Trey Dean of Florida had similar snaps the last two years (785, 796) after having 300 in 2020, when he had 150 in the box and 98 at deep safety, following that up with 300+ in the box and deep along with 100+ in the slot in 2021, and had 381 in the box, 269 deep, and just over 100 in the slot last season. He had mid 60 overall and coverage grades, an upper 60 run defense grade, along with a 12.6% missed tackle rate, good 17.1% forced incompletion rate, and an 8.7 average depth of run tackle. Dean had just three coverage stops (T-489th), allowed 20 catches on 35 targets (57.1 completion rate) and no touchdowns, but no picks either, a good 17 run stops (T-64th), 92.1 passer rating allowed (T-370th), and solid six forced incompletions (T-43rd). His tackling improved each year, providing 63 tackles with 20 assists in 2022, compared to 60 and 19 previously, and 20/9 in 2022. Dean was a Shrine Bowl participant and won defensive MVP, with our own Josh Carney noting the physical player having a fantastic end to the practice week, provided an interception in the end zone including a nice run back, and made my game notes with a great tackle for loss in the run game, but also took a poor angle on another run. He was also a Combine invite with good size and great explosion, and had an informal meeting with the Steelers.

Virginia’s Chamarri Conner had the most opportunity in 2021 (833) compared to 746 previously and 673 last season, starting the three-year span with 500+ slot snaps nearly 200 in the box in each of the first two years, then playing 279 in the slot and a much higher 253 at deep safety, along with 121 in the box in 2022. He had a 65 overall grade, upper 60 coverage grade, but poor 57.3 run defense grade, along with a below average 17.3% missed tackle rate, a slightly above average 10.8% forced incompletion rate, and an 8.3 average depth of run tackle. Conner had seven coverage stops (T-160th), allowed 19 catches on 27 targets (51.4% catch rate) and two touchdowns, no interceptions, nine run stops (T-282nd), a 92.5 passer rating allowed (T-378th), and four forced incompletions (T-130th). His tackles went down each year (49, 68, 70) with assists varying (13, 20, eight). Conner was a Senior Bowl participant, and made my game notes with a few positive plays, highlighted by good coverage for an end zone pass breakup, and showed up as a tackler on a few occasions. He was also a Combine invite and had a good workout that was highlighted by great explosion.

Next, I would like to look at players that are day three options on PFF’s current big board that had above the mean grades. Iowa’s Kaevon Merriweather saw increased opportunities each of the last three seasons (806, 671, 365) playing the most at deep safety along with 200+ the last two years in the box, and 100+ all three years in the slot. In 2022, he had upper 80 overall and great coverage grades, a mid 70 run defense grade, along with an above average 12.7% missed tackle rate, good 15.4% forced incompletion rate, and a 6.7 average depth of tackle. Merriweather had a great 12 coverage stops (T-25th), allowed 11 catches on 26 targets (strong 42.3 catch rate) and no touchdowns, provided three interceptions, but only five run stops (T-502nd), had the top ranked passer rating allowed in college football in 2022 (11.7!), and forced four incompletions (T-130th). His tackles increased each year (42, 39, 20) with the most assists in 2021 (six, 11, three). Merriweather was a Senior Bowl participant and had a few positive plays including a run tackle limiting a would-be long gain, provided good coverage on a trick play and on a fourth-down play, but missed an interception opportunity off a tipped pass. He was also a Combine invite, with a good workout highlighted by historically elite acceleration.

Houston’s Gervarrius Owens saw an increase in snaps each year (784, 627, 319) playing the most at deep safety every season, along with just over 200 in the box in 2021, and 185 there in 2022. He had a low 80 overall grade, a great upper 80 coverage grade, but upper 60 run defense grade, along with a below average 17.8% missed tackle rate, great 22.2% forced incompletion rate, and a 7.6 average depth of run tackle. Owens had just three coverage stops (T-489th), allowed 19 catches on 27 targets (70.4 catch rate) and two touchdowns, one interception, nine run stops (T-282nd), a 99.9 passer rating allowed (446th), and good six forced incompletions (T-43rd). His tackling production increased with his opportunities, providing 63 tackles with 11 assists last season, compared to 40 and 14 previously and 22/2 in 2020. Owens was a Shrine Bowl participant and had some nice moments, and was a Combine invite that posted great explosion.

Jordan Howden of Minnesota had increased snaps each of the last three seasons (733, 661, 413), spending the most time every year in the slot (300+ in 2022) along with 200+ the last two seasons at deep safety, and 100+ every year in the box. In 2022, he had an upper 70 overall grade, low 80 coverage grade, but upper 60 run defense grade, along with an excellent 3.1% missed tackle rate, good 18.4% forced incompletion rate, and an 8.3 average depth of run tackle. Howden had seven coverage stops (T-160th), allowed 20 catches on 38 targets (50.6 catch rate) and no touchdowns, two interceptions, seven run stops (T-391st), a good 47.8 passer rating allowed (56th), and strong seven forced incompletions (T-23rd). He saw an uptick in tackles (49, 40, 30), and assists (14, seven, six) each season. Howden was a Shrine Bowl participant, with Carney noting a good week of practice, a smart leader that fared well in the box, and made my game notes with a good play in coverage. He was also at the Combine, with great speed highlighting his workout.

AJ Finley of Ole Miss had the most opportunity in 2021 (915) when he played 466 snaps at deep safety, 200+ in the slot, and 196 in the box, compared to 689 total snaps in 2020 with 342 deep, 192 in the slot, and 100+ in the box, and in 2022 had 832 snaps with 371 in the slot, and 200+ deep and in the box. He had and upper 70 overall grade, mid 70 coverage and run defense grades, along with an above average 13.6% missed tackle rate, but poor 2.7% forced incompletion rate, and a 9.7 average depth of run tackle. Finley had a good ten coverage stops (T-56th), allowed 28 catches on 37 targets (poor 75.7 catch rate) and three touchdowns, two interceptions, 14 run stops (T-122nd), a poor 110.9 passer rating allowed (T-544th) and just one forced incompletion (T-511th). He had the most tackles in 2021 as expected (67) with 28 assists, improving overall last season on less opportunity (66, ten), compared to 50/11 in 2020. Finley was a Shrine Bowl participant, with several on our crew high on him at the event, impressively having three picks in one practice, with our own Melanie Friedlander noting him as a hybrid player that always seems to be around the ball. He had a tackle in the game but was dragged for additional yards, and also had a block in the back on special teams.

Now for some more late round prospects on PFF’s current big board with below average grades, and I will discuss some of them. Alabama’s DeMarcco Hellams saw an increased workload each of the last three years (903, 758, 453), playing the most at deep safety (535, 499, 223) along with opportunities in the box (206, 152, 112) and the slot (151, 101, 106) largely growing as well. In 2022, he had a low 70 overall grade, a good mid 80 run defense grade, but 66.4 coverage grade, along with good 10.1% missed tackle and 17.5% forced incompletion rates, and a 6.9 average depth of run tackle. Hellams had eight coverage stops (T-113th), allowed 25 catches on 40 targets (62.5 catch rate) and two touchdowns, one interception, a good 17 run stops (T-64th), 94.4 passer rating allowed (397th), and solid seven forced incompletions (T-23rd). His tackling (84, 67, 37) and assists (23, 18, 15) improved each year as he saw more snaps. Hellams was a Senior Bowl participant and was a defensive player of the week including an interception to kick things off. He was also a Combine invite, with several good numbers but a poor 31” vertical that is lower than Pittsburgh has typically drafted.

Brandon Hill of Pittsburgh had the most snaps in 2021 (796) with 340 in the box, 259 at deep safety, and nearly 200 in the slot, following this up with 707 total snaps last season (407 box, 208 in the slot), and 265 in 2020. Last year, he had a mid 60 overall grade, upper 60 coverage grade, but low 60 run defense grade, along with an above average 13.7% missed tackle rate, below average 7.1% forced incompletion rate, and a 13.1 average depth of run tackle. Hill had eight coverage stops (T-113th), allowed 30 catches on 42 targets (71.4 catch rate) and one touchdown, no interceptions, seven run stops (T-391st), a low 103.9 passer rating allowed (T-476th), and three forced incompletions (T-217th). His tackling production matched his opportunities, with the most in 2021 (52 tackles and 21 assists), compared to 50 tackles and 13 assists last season, and 19/7 in 2020. Hill was a Combine invite and had a good workout, highlighted by elite speed numbers.

California’s Daniel Scott had increased snaps each of the last three seasons (860, 794, 169) and played the most at deep safety, along with notable time in the box (255, 187) and the slot (157, 129) the last two years. In 2022, he had a mid 60 overall grade, upper 60 coverage grade, but poor 59.4 run defense grade, along with a slightly below average 16.3% missed tackle rate, below average 7.4% forced incompletion rate, and a 5.9 average depth of run tackle. Scott had eight coverage stops (T-113th), allowed 41 catches on a high 54 targets (poor 75.9 catch rate) and three touchdowns, provided three interceptions, had ten run stops (T-233rd), a 90.9 passer rating allowed (T-351st), and four incompletions (T-130th) and his tackles (69, 67, 16) and assists (18, ten, one) increased each year. Scott was a Senior Bowl participant and made my game notes with good instincts to nearly undercut a pass for a pick though made the tackle, had a couple great run tackles, but also missed a tackle. He was also a Combine invite and posted solid numbers across the board, particularly with elite speed, explosion, and great agility.

Tyreque Jones of Boise State had the most opportunity in 2021 (759 snaps) when he played 200+ in the slot, deep safety, and in the slot, compared to 315 total snaps the previous season with 100+ slot and deep snaps, and played 580 snaps in 2022 when he had nearly 300 slot snaps and 181 in the box. He had a mid 60 overall grade, mid 70 run defense grade, but 61.3 coverage grade, along with a poor 25.5% missed tackle rate, below average 5.6% forced incompletion rate, and a nice 2.9 average depth of run tackle. Jones had only four coverage stops (T-402nd), allowed 24 catches on 36 targets (66.7 catch rate) and three touchdowns, one interception, ten run stops (T-233rd), a poor 110.9 passer rating allowed (T-544th), and just two forced incompletions (T-361st). His tackling production followed his snap opportunities, with 51 tackles and 15 assists in 2021, compared to a very low five and three the previous year, and 28/7 last season. Jones was a Shrine Bowl participant, and made my game notes with two solid run tackles including one on a reverse, but also missed a tackle opportunity. He was also at the Combine, but his shuttle and vertical were outside of Pittsburgh’s past draft tendencies.

Jaiden Woodbey of Boston College saw an increased workload (824, 583, 274) with most of his snaps coming in the box each year, along with 100+ at deep safety and in the slot each of the last two seasons. In 2022, he had a low 60 overall grade, mid 60 coverage grade, but 59.9 run defense grade, along with a great 6.9% missed tackle rate, above average 12.5% forced incompletion rate, and a 5.6 average depth of run tackle. Woodbey had just two coverage stops (T-583rd), allowed 19 catches on 32 targets (59.4 catch rate) and one touchdown, no interceptions, 12 run stops (T-169th), an 86.7 passer rating allowed (T-309th), and four forced incompletions (T-130th). His tackles (48, 37, 23) and assists (33, 15, four) increased as expected with more playing time. Woodbey was a Shrine Bowl participant, with our own Dave Bryan enjoying the prospect, and Carney noting the safety turned linebacker was the best of the bunch during the practice week.

LSU’s Jay Ward had the most snaps in 2021 (704) when he played 351 at deep safety along with 172 in the box and 100+ in the slot, compared to 378 total snaps the previous season playing 200+ in the slot and 142 at corner, and 633 in 2022 with good versatility at slot (230), corner (178), and 100+ in the box and deep. Last season, he had a mid 50 overall grade, a low 70 run defense grade, but poor 53.6 coverage grade, six forced incompletions that tied for 294th among cornerbacks, a good 13 coverage stops (T-37th), 14 missed tackles, allowed 27 receptions on 41 targets (65.9 completion rate) and three touchdowns, one interception, and a 99.9 passer rating allowed. Ward was a Senior Bowl participant and made my game notes running a couple plays out of bounds but had poor coverage on a couple plays (making the tackle on one), but most notably fell in coverage on a severely underthrown deep ball that was caught for a touchdown. He also participated in the Combine, with his broad jump and acceleration being the highlights.

The final player at the position on PFF’s current big board is Oklahoma State’s Jason Taylor, who saw a snap increase each year (877, 801, 162), playing the most at deep safety in 2020, then had 366 snaps in the box, 200+ deep, and 184 in the slot the following season, and returned to deep safety primarily in 2022 (433) along with 234 box snaps, and 193 in the slot. He had a low 70 overall grade, mid 70 coverage grade, but 60.2 run defense grade, along with a slightly above average 14.7% missed tackle rate, an average 9.8 forced incompletion rate, and an 8.4 average depth of run tackle. Taylor had six coverage stops (T-230th), allowed 28 catches on 51 targets (54.9 catch rate) and three touchdowns, provided a whopping six interceptions, had 16 run stops (T-81st), a good 54.7 passer rating allowed (T-88th), and five forced incompletions (T-89th). His tackling improved each season, making a big leap last year (80, 44, nine) along with 19, ten, three in assists. Taylor was a Combine participant and had elite speed and explosion numbers, particularly a historically elite 43” vertical.

It will be interesting to see how the position room unfolds for the Steelers, and if any additions are made in the 2023 NFL draft. While the ranks on PFF’s board will certainly change, and surely some names missing from this list, I hope you enjoyed and learned something from the grade data and notes from the all-star games.

What are your thoughts on this year’s prospects and the data? Thanks for reading and let me know your thoughts in the comments.

To Top
error: Alert: Content is protected !!