2022 NFL Combine Scouting Grade Preview: Safety (SAF)


Ahead of the Combine, we’re doing a preview scouting of all the prospects we haven’t previewed at the Senior Bowl or East-West Shrine. We’ll grade the fresh Combine prospects and integrate them with our Senior Bowl and East-West prospects/grades into one ‘big board’, ranked with all the players invited to Indy for 2022.

After the Combine, we’ll start doing the actual numeric grades and doing the deeper dive reports on the top prospects and prospects of interest from all levels).




SAF Jalen Pitre (pea-tree), Baylor (Post-SB scouting grade: B+)

*Pre-Senior Bowl scouting grade: B-/C+

Estimate = 5’11”/195

SB Measurements: 5’10.6”/196, 9.2” hands, 30.8” arms

Post-SB Note: I thought he had one of the best weeks of any player, regardless of the position. He’s just a really good-great football player despite his little-smaller-than-you-want size at safety. His play transcends size. He can cover, he can tackle, he has great instincts…like an Elijah Molden or Antoine Winfield.


Pre-SB Note: 75 tackles, 18.5 TFLs, 7 PDs, 3 FF…he does it all as a guy who played linebacker (mostly) in college but will for sure be a safety for the NFL. Can cover…can go inside and stop the run. A really nice defender prospect for the NFL. His measurables could launch him into a day two draft prospect or push him out of the draft.

NFL Comp? = Budda Baker, bigger Elijah Molden.



SAF Lewis Cine, Georgia (Pre-Combine scouting grade: B+)

Measurable Estimate = 6’0”/195

Pre-Combine Notes = I saw Cine for the first time, turning on the tape of him vs. Alabama in the title game. I though, at first: this guy is going to be marginal…too thin to be a real safety, must be more free safety or convert to CB. Then, I watched the rest of the tape…and there he is ‘hossing’ around ballcarriers on Alabama and fighting big ole RB Brian Robinson straight up. Very impressed here. The movement skills are there but then so is the tenacity. Legit in NFL player.

I also thought, after watching this, man…Georgia was a thousand times better than Alabama. Georgia has a collection of athletes on defense that is as good as I’ve seen in a while. A lot of ‘best in class’ prospects in this draft class, on defense…several candidates at various defensive positions reside from this Georgia title team.  

NFL Comp? = Better Marcus Williams (Saints).



SAF Nick Cross, Maryland (Pre-Combine scouting grade: B+)

Measurable Estimate = 6’0”/210

Pre-Combine Notes = One of the best, if not the best, hitter/tackler in the 2022 safety class…and he does it the right way. He’s not out there head hunting and causing other problems because he’s always trying to hit stick people for highlight tape – he just nails people shoulder first and sends them reeling.

Not only a great tackler, but very solid against the pass…can cover the RBs out of the backfield and especially man’s up on bigger TEs. A really impressive DB here…one that will be a draft steal for where he’s drafted at.

NFL Comp? = If Jonathan Abrams wasn’t an A-hole and was a very good in pass coverage.



SAF Juanyeh Thomas, Georgia Tech (Pre-Combine scouting grade: B)

Measurable Estimate = 6’2”/220

Pre-Combine Notes = First things first, I’d take Juanyeh Thomas at safety over Kyle Hamilton in two seconds…and then even more so considering Hamilton will go top 10 in the draft and Thomas will go day three if he’s lucky.

Thomas is near as big, definitely thicker/sturdier, a much better tackler and a threat in the return game…AND you could use him on offense as a possibility. Big fan of Thomas’s work. 2 kickoff return TDs as a freshman + a 95-yard INT TD return. He’s a weapon in pass defense and plays the run fine. A little immature/silly of a personality, but nothing red flag…and that can be fixed/dealt with.

Also, could be a linebacker/safety as well with five or so more pounds of muscle added.

NFL Comp? = Erik Harris



SAF Jaquan Brisker, Penn State (Post-SB scouting grade: B-/C+)

*Pre-Senior Bowl scouting grade: D+

Estimate = 6’0”/200

SB Measurements: did not attend

Post-SB Note: Declined to attend. Upgraded from original grade on more tape watching of him.


Pre-SB Note: Classic run stopping safety. Played some linebacker, has the mindset of a linebacker. OK in coverage, but he stands out more as a tackler/hitter. The media loves this guy.

NFL Comp? = Lesser Julian Blackmon? Need some more time in the weight room.



SAF Bryan Cook, Cincinnati (Post-SB scouting grade: C+)

*Pre-Senior Bowl scouting grade: B/C

Estimate = 6’0”/205

SB Measurements: did not attend

Post-SB Note: did not attend, unknown reason


Pre-SB Note: Probably the best tackler of the college pure safety group I previewed. He plays and moves like a legit NFL safety prospect. 96 tackles last season. He plays with a long sleeve shirt on, so it wasn’t easy to get a read on his full build. If he has NFL measurables, then he’s a solid ‘C’ prospect for the NFL with some ‘B’ upside.

NFL Comp? = Jesse Bates-like perhaps.



SAF Kyle Hamilton, Notre Dame (Pre-Combine scouting grade: C+)

Measurable Estimate = 6’3”/215

Pre-Combine Notes = Second year in a row where I still do not get the hype here. I want it to be true…Hamilton is pleasing to the eye – taller than most all safeties, and a good (not great) athlete. But all I see is a guy playing centerfield/free safety with the occasional sneak up blitz. Hamilton gets to be in on cool plays (a blitz or a centerfield interception) once a game or so but on most snaps he’s just floating around looking for a floating, errant pass.

He's not a big-time tackler or playmaker overall. He’s not as athletic as (like) an Isaiah Simmons was (the last ‘big freak safety/OLB) guy everyone loved…does anyone care about Simmons now? He should’ve never been taken in the draft as high as he was – but he’s a better prospect than Hamilton. Jamal Adams was a cool blitzing safety who was so bad in pass coverage he’s become a joke of a Seattle trade/signing. Now enter Hamilton as the latest ‘looks good/pleasing to the eye, moderately useless defensive asset that will be WAYYY overdrafted’ pile.

Hamilton is NFL-worthy, but not a 1st-round cornerstone defensive asset. Some team is going to waste draft capital here.

NFL Comp? = Smaller, less athletic, more useless Isaiah Simmons.



SAF Leon O’Neal Jr., Texas A&M (Post-SB scouting grade: C)

*Pre-Senior Bowl scouting grade: C+

Estimate = 6’1”/210

SB Measurements: 6’0.2”/211, 10.0” hands, 31.6” arms

Post-SB Note: A solid week from O’Neal. Just not sure he stood out in any way to get more draft heat, but he’s got some NFL chops.


Pre-SB Note: Good length, rangy safety prospect. A solid hitter with NFL speed. He seems to be around the ball a lot, but not always getting in on the tackles. He might be more of a ‘B’ prospect than ‘C’. We’ll see how he does against the competition at the Senior Bowl. He may get exposed in coverage…because there’s a lot of those drills at the Senior Bowl…and less hitting, which is what O’Neal is more known for.

NFL Comp? = A lesser Kam Chancellor.



SAF Quentin Lake, UCLA (Pre-Combine scouting grade: C-)

Measurable Estimate = 6’1”/193

Pre-Combine Notes = I can’t tell much of a difference between what Lake was doing for his defense as the highly-lauded Kyle Hamilton was doing for his – just playing a lot of centerfield and occasionally sneaking up for a backfield blitz. Not quite as smooth an athlete as Hamilton.

NFL Comp? = A lesser/similar Jevon Holland?



SAF Bubba Bolden, Miami (Pre-East/West Shrine Bowl scouting grade: C-)

Estimate = 6'2”/200

Good size and movement skills for the NFL but he's just not an exciting player. He can play, he's not bad. I just don't see anything that stands out about him.

NFL Comp? = Taller Eddie Jackson



SAF Delarrin Turner-Yell, Oklahoma (Pre-Combine scouting grade: C-/D+)

Measurable Estimate = 5’11”/200

Pre-Combine Notes = A really solid safety…good tracking the passing game and a solid hitter in the run game. He’ll be a guy no one really cares that their team drafted, but he’ll be a potential starter and a special team’s hand too. Not a star/elite, but just solid all the way around.

NFL Comp? = Xavier Woods



SAF Cam Taylor-Britt, Nebraska (Post-SB scouting grade: C-/D+)

*Pre-Senior Bowl scouting grade: C+

Estimate = 6’0”/205

SB Measurements: 5’10.4”/200, 9.6” hands, 31.7” arms

Post-SB Note: He’s a good tackler, showed it at the Senior Bowl…but can he cover in the pros? It’s a question. Came in smaller than expected too.


Pre-SB Note: OK corner but plays CB like a strong safety…he’s a hitter, not a coverer…in his heart. I’m moving him to the safety group over his likely-to-be listed CB spot.

NFL Comp? = Reminds me more of like an Antoine Winfield than he does any CB…maybe Bradley Roby-like at corner.



SAF Dane Belton, Iowa (Pre-Combine scouting grade: C-/D+)

Measurable Estimate = 6’0”/200

Pre-Combine Notes = Not a bad SAF/OLB type prospect. Can work as a DB or jump in as a small but tough OLB. Not a bad player, and very versatile…just not a star potential, as we see it so far.

NFL Comp? = Taylor Rapp-like



SAF Markquese Bell, Florida A&M (Pre-Combine scouting grade: D+)

Measurable Estimate = 6’1”/197

Pre-Combine Notes = A top FCS defender…big hitter (for FCS) with decent play covering he pass – but it all looks like (on tape) that he’s FCS good, but NFL very raw and thin-framed. Almost looks like a corner trying to play SAF but put SAF because he tackles aggressively. I don’t think he’ll be able to hit NFL talent like he does abusing the FCS guys. If he runs fast enough at the Combine, he should try to convert to CB.

‘D’ grade level SAF prospect but bump a bit for CB hopes with his good size.

NFL Comp? = Marqui Christian



SAF Tycen Anderson, Toledo (Post-SB scouting grade: D+)

*Pre-Senior Bowl scouting grade: D+

Estimate = 6’1”/205

SB Measurements: 6’1.3”/204, 9.6” hands, 33.0” arms

Post-SB Note: I noticed him around the ball a lot. A solid enough player, but not a standout. He helped himself here but not sure to a huge degree.


Pre-SB Note: Can play safety some nickel corner. Has some size. Moves around the field well. Not a huge producer of output. Isn’t the most instinctive player/defender, at a glance. He’s worth keeping tabs on, especially as a big corner, if he has the speed…but I don’t think he does.

NFL Comp? = Much lesser Tashaun Gibson, maybe. Deshon Elliott, perhaps.



SAF J.T. Woods, Baylor (Post-SB scouting grade: D+)

*Pre-Senior Bowl scouting grade: C+

Estimate = 6’1”/190

SB Measurements: 6’1.6”/188, 8.4” hands, 32.2” arms

Post-SB Note: Generic free safety. Tackling issues for the next level. He is losing momentum. He really needs to switch to CB.


Pre-SB Note: Very good speed and movement skills…quite the acceleration/closing speed. I think he could be a ‘B’ prospect as a cornerback. He doesn’t tackle all that well…he gets to ballcarriers but is pretty thin-framed and poor technique bringing them down. He has NFL speed/acceleration for free safety, nickel DB, or a straight move to corner (which is what they should consider quickly).

NFL Comp? = Sean Davis…former Combine freak, former high pick DB/safety who had a few moments in the NFL…but should’ve been pushed to CB right away.



SAF Kolby Harvell-Peel, Oklahoma State (Pre-Combine scouting grade: D+)

Measurable Estimate = 5’11”/205

Pre-Combine Notes = Might be an NFL roster-able defender to grow with. Not a top prospect. Not a guy who stands out, but a fairly smart, disciplined safety…more of a free safety. He can grind his way to a roster and eventual starting lineup someday, potentially. More of a forgettable prospect, but might be a nice no name defender and special teams guy in the NFL.

NFL Comp? = Mike Edwards?



SAF Smoke Monday, Auburn (Pre-Combine scouting grade: D+)

Measurable Estimate = 6’2”/195

Pre-Combine Notes = His draft stock is in his nice size/reach, but other than that he’s a very generic, poor tackling free safety type. Could be an NFL athlete. Has the size/reach. Just his play is very ‘meh’…sitting back in centerfield looking to track passes or hit receivers after the catch that have their backs to him. Great.

He should try to move to cornerback. The fact he hasn’t means he’s probably not a great man-to-man coverer.

NFL Comp? = J.R. Reed?



SAF Qwynnterrio Cole, Louisville (Pre-East/West Shrine Bowl scouting grade: D+)

Estimate = 6'2”/195

Nice size and wingspan. Looks and plays more like a skinny linebacker. Will pop you if he can get it lined up but too often misses tackles in the open field. Little lacking in long speed if he gets beat.

NFL Comp? = Julian Blackmon



SAF Verone McKinley III, Oregon (Pre-Combine scouting grade: D)

Measurable Estimate = 5’10”/190

Pre-Combine Notes = His claim to fame is lots of interceptions (11 in his career), with an NCAA high 6 INTs in 2021…but half of them were tipped by someone and it flew to McKinley, with the other 3 picks being balls thrown right to him playing centerfield. He has good hands, but he’s too slow without great size for the NFL otherwise.

NFL Comp? = Grayland Arnold



SAF Yusuf Corker, Kentucky (Post-SB scouting grade: D-)

*Pre-Senior Bowl scouting grade: D

Estimate = 6’1”/195

SB Measurements: 5’11.4”/204, 9.2” hands, 30.8” arms

Post-SB Note: Good effort all week. Really disappointed at the weigh in. Losing some draft momentum.


Pre-SB Note: Tall, lanky free safety. Moves OK. Gives an effort to go at tackling ballcarriers. Just what I watched was pretty vanilla/OK…with fears his legs/lower body is too thin to be a desired NFL safety prospect.

NFL Comp? = He looks like a slower, less capable Trevon Diggs…playing safety.



SAF Percy Butler, Louisiana-Lafayette (Post-East/West Shrine Bowl scouting grade: D-)

Estimate = 6'0”/190

Decent coverage skills but he's rather thin to be playing safety. Definitely needs to get stronger and work on his hitting because he's going to get run over in the NFL trying to tackle the way he is right now. I'd say he should convert to corner but don't think he's fast enough for that. Definitely a free safety. Maybe there's something here if he can get stronger.

NFL Comp? = Much worse Devin McCourty