Of interest to Colts, Safety draft class receives second-lowest grade from PFF

Safety remains a need for the Indianapolis Colts, but finding immediate impact help in the NFL draft could be a tall task.

Recently, Pro Football Focus graded the overall depth of each position group in this year’s draft class. The safety group received a C+, which was only ahead of the running back position and tied for the second-lowest grade among all position groups with linebacker.

Here is what Sam Monson of PFF had to say about his assessment of the safety class:

“This is a solid yet unspectacular safety class. There might not be a first-round player at the position — unless a team decides Cooper DeJean will play there at the next level — but there will likely be a run on them in the second and third rounds of the draft, which tallies with the current valuation of the position overall.”

On Daniel Jeremiah’s most recent big board, he didn’t have any safeties listed among his top 50 overall prospects.

Realistically, the Colts won’t be addressing this need until the second round at the earliest–there just won’t be a player from the safety group that GM Chris Ballard will be spending the 15th pick on.

The balance for Ballard, with somewhat limited options, will be in making sure that he gets the player he likes and fits best with the Colts without reaching for a prospect. And, of course, the further a team gets from the first overall pick, statistically, the lower the chances are of that player coming in and making a quick impact.

Unless the Colts add to the safety position through free agency before the draft begins, there is going to be some urgency for them in the draft when it comes to addressing this position group.

Below, you will find the six safeties that PFF has listed in their top 100 prospects, along with that player’s overall ranking:

26. Tyler Nubin, Minnesota

48. Javon Bullard, Georgia

61. Jaden Hicks, Washington State

87. Kamren Kinchens, Miami

97. Calen Bullock, USC

When it comes to Nubin and Kinchens, specifically, it’s worth noting that Nubin posted a Relative Athletic Score (RAS) of 2.91 and Kinchens 1.83. For some context, over the last five drafts, the average RAS of Ballard’s draft picks has been 8.76. In the last two drafts, the average RAS has been 9.55, so it’s possible neither player is on the Colts’ board, or at least not in the early rounds of the draft.

If the Colts wanted to address the safety need in free agency, there are still a few players availabl  who are currently on PFF’s best available free agents list. This includes Justin Simmons, Julian Blackmon, Tashaun Gipson, Micah Hyde, Jayron Kearse, and Eddie Jackson.

From a salary cap perspective, the Colts do still have some flexibility when it comes to making an addition, and at this stage of free agency, none of these contracts should break the bank by any means.

As noted by Zach Hicks of Horseshoe Huddle in a recent article, it is expected that Nick Cross and Rodney Thomas will compete this summer for the starting free safety role, but the Colts are still in search of their starting strong safety. 

Last season, Cross played 292 defensive snaps, allowing just three receptions on seven targets with an interception. Thomas played nearly 1,000 defensive snaps for the Colts, allowing 12 completions on 20 targets but at 21.2 yards per catch with two pass breakups. Limiting explosive plays is an area where the Colts’ defense will have to improve this season.

Story originally appeared on Colts Wire