Top Free Safety Prospects for the 2012 NFL Draft

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11. Rashard Hall, Clemson, 6’2″ 200 (Junior)

**No scouting report yet available**

12. Janzen Jackson, Tennessee, 6’0″ 187 (Junior)

The Vols are holding their breath that Jackson will return to the team in 2011 after leaving for personal reasons back in February. Jackson is a tough, hard-nosed player who hits like a ton of bricks and is absolutely fearless on the field. As a sophomore, he racked up 69 tackles (four for loss), a sack, five interceptions, and six passes broken up. If he wants to keep up the style of play that he is so good at, he might need to bulk up to around 200 pounds or so, possibly more. However, for now, he is a player that is very fun to watch, and he can really hit. Hopefully, Jackson will return for his junior season and give the Vols one of the better ball-hawking defensive backfields in college football, as he and Prentiss Waggner hauled in 10 interceptions last year and 13 turnovers in all.

13. Karnell Hatcher, LSU, 6’2″ 212 (Senior)

I look at a guy like Hatcher, and he just screams NFL starter. The size, the physicality, and the toughness indicate to me that this is a guy who can be a good safety in the NFL, and he has proven in three years at LSU that he is more than capable of making an impact in various areas. He has yet to record an interception as a Tiger, which is disappointing since he was an ESPN150 recruit back in 2008. As a senior, Hatcher is probably the leader of the LSU defense both on the field and off. He is a big, in the box safety who will smack you in the mouth and simply make plays for your defense. He had 63 tackles last year along with a forced fumble and two passes broken up, and he has been a key contributor on special teams early in his career. In his second full year as a starter, expect Hatcher to make an impact in the LSU secondary, and cement himself as a top 10 safety in next year’s draft.

14. Tramain Thompson, Arkansas, 6’0″ 198 (Senior)

**No scouting report yet available**

15. John Boyett, Oregon, 5’10” 190 (Junior)

**No scouting report yet available**

16. Trenton Robinson, Michigan State, 5’10” 195 (Senior)

Undersized but extremely productive safety who had a breakout season as a junior with 76 tackles, four interceptions, and 12 pass deflections. Robinson was making plays all over the field for the Spartans last year, and is a very underrated player. Had a big sophomore season with 67 tackles and an interception, and returns for his senior season as one of the leaders of the Michigan State defensive unit. Has started 19 games for the Spartans, and was a 2nd team All Big Ten performer as voted by the coaches as well as Phil Steele. Hard-nosed, blue collar player with solid athleticism and good speed.

17. Trulon Henry, Illinois, 6’1″ 215 (Senior)

Henry is a big, fast safety who wears the same number that Arrelious Benn (his brother) used to, and to be honest, he wears it a little better. Henry is one of the more intriguing stories in all of college football. When he was a teenager, Henry robbed a Safeway and was sentenced to 60 months in federal prison. However, if you ask anyone close to him, the fact that he has spent time in prison would come as a shock to anyone who got to know him prior to learning that information. Henry spent some time in a “halfway house” of sorts which he described as similar to what Mike Vick went through. After watching his brother in the Rose Bowl, Henry decided to make a comeback to college football, though the road was much tougher than most. Whenever he would tell a prospective college about his situation, it seemed the interest in him disappeared, and no team was willing to take on someone with that kind of checkered past. That is, until he was taken in by the College of DuPage 150 miles away from the University of Illinois, where his brother played.

Henry made his mark at the College of DuPage, where he earned the trust of the coaches and became a top tier junior college recruit. Ron Zook and the Fighting Illini took him in, and he has not disappointed. Henry is a big, strong safety with excellent speed, and really the only downside to his game is going to be his starting age in the NFL, though we saw a 26 year old in Danny Watkins drafted in the first round by the Eagles this past year. Henry will be 27 this season, and 28 during his rookie year in the NFL, but that’s not going to stop him from knocking people out. Henry’s closing speed is absolutely phenomenal, and he has great instincts. His ball skills could use some improvement, but he led the Illini with three interceptions last year, and he hits like a wrecking ball. Henry is a father to his daughter Tatum, as well as a husband and has really turned his life around, and gives all the glory to God. In his first year with Illinois, he had 63 tackles, a forced fumble, and three interceptions. He should be one of the key players for the Illinois defense in 2011.

18. Bacarri Rambo, Georgia, 6’0″ 211 (Junior)

Bacarri Rambo is a guy you have to love if for no other reason than he has one of the coolest names in college football. The playmaking safety enters his junior year as a 2nd team All SEC pre-season performer by Athlon Sports, and was a third team All SEC player last year according to Phil Steele. As a junior, he had 82 tackles, three forced fumbles, and three interceptions. Rambo is really a game-changer at the safety position, and he is not afraid to lay his body out there in order to make the play (see hit on Mario Fannin against Auburn). This is a guy who is flying under the radar right now, but if he continues to make plays at this rate (two interceptions as a freshman, also), he could be one of the top safeties available in this year or next year’s class.

19. Brian Peters, Northwestern, 6’4″ 215 (Senior)

Peters was the best player in a weak secondary last season.  He recorded 107 tackles, which is an amazing number for someone who plays behind the front seven of a defense, and he also recorded 3 picks.  Peters is one of the largest safeties that I can remember and he might get moved to linebacker in the NFL if he can put on a little weight.  He is probably the 3rd or 4th best pro prospect on this team and will likely go in the 4th round. (Nick Hlebichuk, Big Ten Nation)

20. D.J. Swearinger, South Carolina, 5’11” 206 (Junior)

Hard hitting safety who is still very raw, but he has a ton of potential. As a sophomore, he had a very solid all-around season with 66 tackles, a forced fumble, and an interception. He also had two tackles for a loss, and showed that he is capable of being a solid kick returner (five returns for 21.8 yard average). Highly sought after high school recruit who is growing into his role in the South Carolina secondary. He has a long way to go in his development as an NFL player, so he could certainly be back for his senior year unless he has a huge junior season.