Home Steelers DraftDraft Analysis SCB Steelers Draft Position Profiles 2023: Safeties

SCB Steelers Draft Position Profiles 2023: Safeties

by Steeldad

Welcome to our Steelers Draft Profiles. What we’ve done is create lists of top prospects with our take on their abilities based on what we’ve seen of them. Once published, we will continue to update these very articles on a regular basis as new information comes in about the players. In today’s article, we feature the Safeties.

Brian Branch – JR. – Alabama – 6′ 195lbs

Extremely versatile player having seen action at both safety spots, cornerback and even linebacker… Always seems to be around the ball… Good instincts… Aggressive, solid tackler… Good blitzer from just about anywhere on the field… Much better cover man when asked to play zone versus man-to-man… I’m not convinced he would be a good slot cover guy in the NFL… Seems much more of an ‘in-the-box’ safety to me.

Key Combine Stats:
40-yard Dash: 4.58
10-yard Split: 1.56
Broad: 10.5′

Notes: Was one of the more disappointing players at the Combine. It’s not that he was “bad” but I think many had higher expectations.

Sydney Brown – SR. – Illinois – 6′ 200lbs

Twin brother of Chase who is also entering the Draft this year as RB out of Illinois… Another highly versatile DB who can play deep or up in the box with equal success… Above average athlete whose track background is evident in his explosion and desire to get to the ball… Bigger receivers and tight ends may give him some issues in man coverage… Not sure where he will fit in terms of box or free safety…

Key Combine Stats:
40-yard Dash: 4.47
10-yard Split: 1.51

Antonio Johnson – JR. – Texas A&M – 6’3″ 195lbs

Big and physical… Versatility on display often whether in zone or man coverage… Could be the best tackler of the safety group… Really enjoyable to watch him analyze what’s happening in front of him… Quick with his reactions… Not a lot of evidence that he’s a ball-hawk… Much better man cover skills than I expected considering his size… I’m very curious, because of his size, where he lines up…

Key Combine Stats:
40-yard Dash: 4,52
10-yard Split: 1.57

Jordan Battle – SR. – Alabama – 6’1″ 205lbs

Tons of experience with over 50 games played for the Crimson Tide… He’s smart/Diagnoses things quickly… Physical player… Tackles aggressively but can stand to improve his overall skills here… Definitely more of a zone coverage guy than a man-to-man guy… Can get a little ahead of himself in pursuit/Can overrun plays… Any team that is looking for an ‘in the box’ safety could plug him in quickly.

Key Combine Stats:
40-yard Dash: 4.55
10-yard Split: 1.56

Brandon Joseph – SR. – Notre Dame – 6’1″ 195lbs

Originally played at Northwestern before transferring… Smart player… Excels when he sits back and diagnoses what’s happening in front of him… Ball-hawking tendencies… Has good experience with NFL-style coverages and calls… Physical tackler but must improve his overall ability especially in the open-field… If he can step in and play center field I can see him excelling big time.

Key Combine Stats:
40-yard Dash: 4.62
10-yard Split: 1.56

Christopher Smith – SR. – Georgia – 5’11” 190lbs

Highly recruited cornerback who became a ‘man for all positions’ for the Bulldogs… Named a Team Captain… During his time in Athens he played free safety, strong safety and slot corner/nickel and did all well… Ability to diagnose and jump routes is really impressive… His tackling needs serious work and I believe that keeps him from being rated higher… His toughness and physicality is very good… Likely a Special Teams guy immediately but I can see him being a team’s nickel corner quickly.

Key Combine Stats:
40-yard Dash: 4.62
10-yard Split: 1.56

Jay Ward – SR. – LSU – 6’1″ 180lbs

Former cornerback who transitioned nicely to safety… Had to endure multiple coordinators at LSU… Plays with great energy… Has some real positives in both zone and man-to-man coverage… Aggressive and physical tackler… I’d call him a ‘disruption-type’ player who finds ways to create havoc on outside plays… Impressive overall range in the secondary… Capable of being a ball-hawk… Major concern I have is his build which is very slight… Playing as aggressively as he does, can his body hold up?

Key Combine Stats:
40-yard Dash: 4.55
Vertical: 34.5″

DeMarcco Hellams – SR. – Alabama – 6’1″ 210lbs

Led Alabama with over 100 tackles in 2022… Has position flexibility like most of Nick Saban’s secondary players… Good range… Plays very well against the run… Man-to-man coverage is a huge concern for me/Beaten often on deep routes especially… Doesn’t possess the desired speed… I see him as a strong safety period.

Key Combine Stats:
40-yard Dash: 4.57
10-yard Split: 1.57

Jammie Robinson – JR. – Florida State – 5’11” 200lbs

Came over prior to the 2021 season from South Carolina… Tremendous versatility having played at free safety, strong safety, nickel corner and linebacker… Not a big turnover producer… Very good against the run… Very good tackler overall… Uses his athleticism in coverage to stick with guys in man-to-man… Likely more suited to a spot closer to the line of scrimmage…

Key Combine Stats:
40-yard Dash: 4.59
10-yard Split: 1.58

JL Skinner – SR. – Boise State – 6’4″ 215lbs

Impressive straight-line speed comes from his track background… Very intimidating presence with his size… Excels in zone when he can watch, react and come forward and hit… Man skills aren’t bad with tight ends or bigger, slower receivers but quick twitchy guys give him problems… Really good against the run… High motor player… Not sure where he fits in a given defense… He’s fast but not overly quick with lateral movement.

Jartavious Martin – SR. – Illinois – 6′ 195lbs

Originally played at Virginia… Wicked athleticism was on display at the Combine… Has the ability to play corner or safety… Really good range from his free safety position… Ability to go get the ball really popped in 2022… Might be one of the better tacklers in this group… Will be an instant Special Teams contributor…

Key Combine Stats:
40-yard Dash: 4.46
10-yard Split: 1.47
Vertical: 44″
Broad: 11.1′

Notes: Martin came out of nowhere to dominate the agility portion of the Combine. He was first in the forty, broad and vertical and represented himself well in the field portion.

Others to watch… Bennett Williams – Oregon, Kendall Smith – Illinois, Brandon Hill – PITT


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