NFL Draft 2022: Eagles’ top options at safety

·5 min read

Exploring Eagles’ top options at S throughout the 2022 draft originally appeared on NBC Sports Philadelphia

As the 2022 NFL Draft nears, we’re taking a look at every position on both sides of the ball to find some options for the Eagles throughout the three-day event. We started with QBs, RBs, WRs, TEs, OL, DTEdge, LB and CB. Up last: Safety.

The Eagles re-signed Anthony Harris this offseason but still have a pretty clear need at the safety position.

Rodney McLeod moved on to Indianapolis and maybe the Eagles end up signing Tyrann Mathieu. But if not, then it would make a lot of sense for them to add one early in the draft.

Even after the Eagles’ trade with the Saints, they still have two first-round picks and 10 total:

1-15 (from Miami)
1-18 (from New Orleans)
3-101 (from New Orleans)
5-154 (from Washington)
5-166 (from Arizona)
7-237 (from New Orleans)

Here are some safety options throughout the draft:

In first round

Kyle Hamilton (Notre Dame): It seems unlikely that Hamilton will available when the Eagles are on the clock but if he slides out of the top 10 he could perhaps be a very good trade-up candidate. The Eagles have never drafted a safety in the first round but Hamilton is definitely worth a first-round pick. He’s a special player who covers a ton of ground and was a start at Notre Dame. He ran a poor time at the combine, which might lead to a slight slide but the tape is there.

Daxton Hill (Michigan): If the Eagles have reservations about using a first-round pick on a pure safety, then maybe Hill’s versatile skillset would be more intriguing. He can play a deep safety role but can also play in the nickel. He isn’t huge at 6-0, 191 pounds but has great speed. He showed it off with 4.38 at the combine. Hill might be a slight stretch in the Eagles’ range but maybe a slight trade down for him would offer some more value.

In the middle rounds

Lewis Cine (Georgia): One of the thousand or so Georgia defenders set to go in the first few rounds, Cine is a good one with a chance to possibly sneak into the end of the first round. If not, the Eagles can hope he’s there at 51. Cine (6-2, 200) is a versatile back-end defender with plenty of speed and range to play in pretty much any defense. He has the speed to get all over the field and packs a wallop when he tackles.

Jalen Pitre (Baylor): Another name among several excellent safeties who might go in the second round. Pitre (5-11, 198) converted from linebacker to the “star” position while at Baylor and became a two-year starter. He had a great showing at the Senior Bowl and followed it up with a strong combine. Some question his speed and coverage ability but he did run a 4.46 at his pro day.

Jaquan Brisker (Penn State): At 6-1, 206, Brisker has the desired length. He was also a two-year starter for the Nittany Lions and is coming off a strong senior season as a versatile piece of the back end of that defense. The Eagles prefer their safeties to be interchangeable so that versatility is important.

Kerby Joseph (Illinois): After just one season as a starter at Illinois, Joseph projects to be a Day 3 pick next week. He’s long at 6-1 with 33-inch arms and has great ability as a centerfielder of a defense. He had five interceptions in 12 games in 2021, but playing deep is where he belongs. He doesn’t appear ready to log snaps in the box.

Nick Cross (Maryland): There’s an awful lot to like about Cross, who has positioned himself nicely as a Day 2 pick. Cross (6-0, 212) started 21 games for the Terps and had six interceptions in his college career. He also has that required versatility and turned heads by running a 4.34 at the combine. Has a ton of upside.

Bryan Cook (Cincinnati): Cook began his college career at Howard but transferred to Cinci and became a full-time starter in 2021. He had 96 tackles, 5 TFLs and 2 INTs in his one year as a starter. He couldn’t test this offseason because of a shoulder injury. He’s a steady tackler but has some flaws like his penchant for getting beat on double moves.

JT Woods (Baylor): The 6-2, 195-pound Woods started 28 games in his college career, including 14 as a senior in 2021. He had 6 INTs in his final college season. While he has a slight frame, Woods has great speed and range. He ran a 4.36 at the combine. But he’ll need to become a better decision maker and tackler.

Late-round sleeper(s)

Markquese Bell (Florida A&M): The Bridgeton, New Jersey, native has some really desirable physical traits. He’s 6-2, 212 pounds and the former track athlete has an impressive athletic profile. He was a two-year starter at Florida A&M of the FCS. His athleticism alone makes him worth a late-round lottery ticket.

Quentin Lake (UCLA): Lake doesn’t have the athletic profile of Bell but has the experience as a four-year starter at LSU. He’s had some injuries, which will push him down the board. But the son of former NFL safety Carnell Lake would be a nice addition for the special teams units late in the draft.

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