Draft Positional Analysis Safeties
February 15th 2002
By Bryan Hersh of 49ers Paradise
The 49ers had one of the best safety tandems in the NFL last season. Zack Bronson took the league by storm with seven interceptions and in providing most of the play calling in the defensive secondary. Lance Schulters was no push over either as he came off a good season. Schulters however is a free agent, and with the 49ers also declaring hopefully prospect John Keith eligible for the expansion draft, the 49ers may indeed be looking for some help at safety. However, should the 49ers lose both player, they still have Ronnie Heard and Al Blades both of who have looked impressive when with the team. Safety doesn't appear to be a pressing concern for the moment, but the 49ers would love to get Schulters under contract before the draft to help clear up some of speculation in this area.
Top Five Safety Prospects
Edward Reed is a heck of a defensive player. He's a team leader and highly productive. Was part of a defense that put up 45 takeaways this past season. Reed has been known to block kicks too. An all around player that hits hard despite not being a huge strong safety. Had 9 INTs in 11 games and broke up 18 passes. Intercepted 21 passes over his career at Miami. He's an impact player that will make a difference in whateverdefensee he's put in.
Roy Williams is right up their with the top safeties in this years draft. He has perfect size and speed for the position as has great instincts for the game. Is a great hitter, makes interceptions and shows up big in big games. The type of player that can solidify a defensive backfield. Is excellent near the line of scrimage on the blitz and has made a living making plays for losses. He had 11 tackles for losses and five sacks this past season. Has improved greatly in the passing game showing good instings, change of direction, turning ability, and quick hands. Had only three interceptions this past season, but defended an amazing 22 passes. Will benefit greatly from a good defensive system.
Michael Lewis is not the flashiest player but is extremely reliable. He has good size and speed and is a great run stuffer. Reliable in the open field and has great form for tackling. Hits hard, and wraps up, rarely missing the tackle. Has forced 8 fumbles over the last three seasons. A great overall athlete who is good in the passing game. He's quick and fluid, turns easily and is rarely caught out of position. He's a heck of a defender that will be one of the safest picks in the draft.
Lamont Thompson is a solid safety who if not for his injury in 2000 would have been rated higher. A neck injury kept Thompson inactive, and he was missed. Thompson is an incredible character off the field and in the locker room, he was never late for practice, weight lifting and is socially controlled. He doesn't drink or smoke and is religious - your all around great person. He excels on the field too and hits like a linebacker. He will completely take out offensive players launching them through the air. Yet he can play center field too and is constantly preventing the big play. Intercepted three passes in one game. A bit of a gamble because of his past injury, but he appears to have put that behind him and will make a difference on any NFL team.
Kevin Curtis has good size and speed for the position. He can hit very well from the strong position. He's lethal against the run and comes from an aggressive defensive scheme. Is a great danger along the line of scrimage. He had 15 tackles for loss in this past season. His pass defense skills improved dramatically over the past season, and while they don't match his run stopping skills are more adequate. Is quite good at recognizing the play action. Has the size and skill to take on NFL type tight ends effectively. An overall good prospect.
The safety position seems to be very heavily weighted to run stoppers who can also play the pass. A solid bunch that seem to be quite solid at the top level. The 49ers aren't in desperate need for a safety but this years crop has lots to offer that may temp the team. Talk about it in the 49ers Paradise Forum