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5 Safeties To Watch At 2017 Scouting Combine

Posted Feb 23, 2017

The Ravens want to inject some youth into their safety group, and here are five prospects they could consider at various points of the draft.

The NFL Scouting Combine kicks off next week and safeties are a good group to watch.

Assistant General Manager Eric DeCosta said the Ravens need a “young infusion of talent,” with two veteran starters in place with Eric Weddle and Lardarius Webb.

One of the top safeties, Ohio State’s Malik Hooker, won’t work out in Indianapolis after having core muscle and labrum surgeries, but the class is deep and Baltimore could find talent in the second or third rounds.

Here’s a look at some of the top prospects:

Jamal Adams, LSU
6-foot-1, 213 pounds

Adams has it all, which is why he’ll almost assuredly be a top-10 pick. The son of a former first-round pick, he’s grown up around football and is lauded for his leadership and knowledge of the game. He stood out in LSU’s top-notch secondary with 76 tackles, 7.5 for loss and one interception. He’s aggressive in tackling, gets his teammates aligned and has instincts to be a playmaker in pass coverage.

What he needs to prove at the combine: Adams dropped some interceptions, so watch for his ball drills. There are also some questions about his long speed, which will make his 40-yard dash important. Can he keep up with the fastest receivers deep down the field?

Jabrill Peppers, Michigan
6-foot-1, 205 pounds

Peppers was the first player that ESPN’s Mel Kiper mocked to the Ravens. He’s an intriguing, yet polarizing prospect mostly because he doesn’t have a true position. Peppers played cornerback, safety, linebacker and running back in college. While he flashed at each spot, he didn’t have fantastic production in any. He had one interception and 10 passes defensed over his career. Still, Peppers has obvious talent and athleticism. He can be an elite returner and should excel once he focusses on one position.

What he needs to prove at the combine: It will be interesting to see which group(s) Peppers works out with at the combine. He’ll look to prove he’s fast enough to play cornerback or safety, and big enough to handle in-the-box run-stopping duties. Peppers has to prove he’s dynamic no matter where you put him.

Budda Baker, Washington
5-foot-10, 192 pounds

Baker is a very passionate and aggressive player. A starter from the day he stepped on campus, he led the team in tackles as a junior (71) and notched two interceptions. Baker flies around the line of scrimmage, making quick reads and sprinting downhill to make big hits. He has the speed (high school 100-meter champion) and instincts to make plays on the ball in the deep secondary.

What he needs to prove at the combine: There will be a lot of eyes on Baker at the weigh-in and bench press because his smaller frame may be his biggest issue. He could have trouble matching up against tight ends or bigger receivers in the NFL, which could drop him into the second round.

Marcus Williams, Utah
6-foot-1, 195 pounds

Williams is a playmaker, pure and simple. He was targeted 44 times over the past two seasons and notched 10 interceptions. He showed off his ball-hawking instincts and superb hands during his three-year career. The second- or third-round prospect is big, smooth and fast, and he could rise up boards if he tests well.

What he needs to prove at the combine: Williams could add some muscle to his frame, and scouts will look to see if he’s been working out since the season ended. He’s more of a centerfielder, so he’ll also be asked about his desire to come down in the box and hit.

Obi Melifonwu, Connecticut
6-foot-4, 219 pounds

Melifonwu is a big-bodied safety who has elite traits. He could be one of the combine’s standout performers. The four-year starter was a former cornerback who has the size and athleticism to match up with receivers or tight ends. He’s a tackling machine around the line of scrimmage, and made 118 stops during his senior year.

What he needs to prove at the combine: Melifonwu needs to live up to the hype and post some of the best 40-yard dash, vertical and broad jump numbers among his peers. His football instincts and play diagnosis are question marks, so he’ll probably be grilled on the white board in interviews.

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