Top 5 safety prospects

After a deep 2013 class, the 2014 group is strong, as well

Originally Published: May 14, 2013
By Mel Kiper Jr. | ESPN Insider
HaSean Clinton-DixAP Photo/David J. PhillipHa Ha Clinton-Dix is a playmaker at safety for the Alabama Crimson Tide.

The 2013 NFL draft was loaded with safety talent. I said during the draft that there were at least a dozen players at the position who I'd project as eventual NFL starters. There was a time when safety seemed like a position of last resort -- too small for linebacker, too slow for corner -- but great modern safeties have become huge weapons for defensive coordinators. Instead of lacking traits to play other positions, more often you see players with extremely diverse skills.

Look at a player like Kenny Vaccaro, who was taken at No. 15 overall by the Saints, and you see what I'm talking about. He can cover both close to the line of scrimmage and over the top; he can step up and become essentially an extra linebacker against the run; and if needed, he can even be asked to blitz and show off the instincts of a pass-rusher.

I don't think the 2014 NFL draft will have quite the depth as the 2013 class did -- in part because of some juniors who left early -- but there are a number of good players to keep an eye on.

Here are my top 5 safeties for the 2014 draft:

Mel Kiper Jr.

Football analyst