The Broncos can find safety depth on day two and three of the draft

Apr 19, 2024, 2:48 PM

The 2024 NFL Draft will be here before you know it. This is a good draft class at multiple positions, and teams will be shuffling around to find the best fit for them on both sides of the ball.

My position previews are always fun to write. The scouting is over, and I’ve graded over 400 players in this draft class. Now, it’s time to give you a taste of what I’ve seen on film.

Here are some of the safeties from this draft you need to know.


Not a First but a Baller

There are no safeties who will be picked in the first round of the draft. This is a full class in the middle rounds, and starting in the second we’ll see plenty come off the board. These players are not day-one picks, but make no mistake about it – they can ball.

Jaden Hicks (Washington State) is the best of both worlds. He’s got linebacker size with cornerback movement ability. I like the way he can make plays on the ball in the air, and Hicks does a good job of watching a quarterback’s eyes to get to the play. He will make a receiver look open only to swoop in at the last second and make a play on the pass. Hicks does get overly aggressive at times, and he’ll need to play with more patience in the pros.

Javon Bullard (Georgia) arrives at the play with bad intentions. He’s a physical player who loves to intimidate on the field. Bullard is a strong player, and his hits can dislodge the ball. His coverage ability needs work, especially on deeper routes where his lack of long speed can show up. Bullard is aggressive and confident, plus he’s got plenty of special teams experience.

Cole Bishop (Utah) is a player who can be a better pro than he was a collegian. He plays with speed, and he flies to the play in a hurry. Bishop stays ahead of the play with his eyes, and that allows him to play close to the line of scrimmage or off-ball deep. Bishop gets to the play quickly, and he wants to destroy the guy with the ball. That’s a double-edged sword as quarterbacks can take advantage of his overaggressiveness with pump fakes and play fakes.

Tyler Nubin (Minnesota) has a nice size/speed combination. I like his range as a safety to play close to the line or deep centerfielder. He does a good job of attacking plays in front of him, and he’ll close on the receiver or ball-carrier quickly in such situations. Nubin doesn’t waste a ton of motion in his backpedal, but he’s not as smooth as others in this group. Instead, he relies on his football intelligence to stay ahead of the play.


Mid-Round Favorites

I do like those top three safeties, but there is another group of a few players in this class that I’ve enjoyed studying. Teams in need of safety help can turn to these guys in the third or fourth rounds.

Jaylen Simpson (Auburn) is a slender player, and he lacks the punch of others in this class, but I like his ability to play as a nickel corner or rangy safety. He plays the ball like a wide receiver, and Simpson does a good job of disrupting the pass (or intercepting it) at the highest point. Simpson is cocky, vocal, and known as a leader on the field and on special teams. He’s always – and I mean always – looking to make the big play. His small size (178 pounds) means he’s going to battle injuries and may be best suited as a sub-package player in the NFL.

Kamren Kinchens (Miami) can make plays on the ball. He may not be a great Miami safety (see Ed Reed, Sean Taylor), but Kinchens is a difference maker on the field. He brings the mind of a coach to the football field, and he can diagnose in space with the best of them. He’s a physical player who gets a bit wild at times. Lacking elite speed, Kinchens has to do the best to keep the play in front of him or it’s game over.

Malik Mustapha (Wake Forest) gets downhill in a hurry. He wins collisions regularly, and Mustapha has a tendency to always be around the ball. Mustapha is a sound tackler, and he can wrap up smaller or larger players like a linebacker. Injuries are a concern with him, as his play style (super aggressive) leads to him getting beat up in addition to beating up opponents.


Day-Three Gems

The best scouts can find starting-caliber talent on day three of the draft. While safety isn’t a great class this year, there are a couple of players who stand out even though they are likely to be late-round selections.

Trey Taylor (Air Force) is the type of player every team wants on the roster. First, he’s Ed Reed’s cousin and has the ability to play at a higher level than his draft status. Second, Taylor has the work ethic and dedication from his background as a member of our Armed Forces. Taylor plays with a calm mind, and he doesn’t get out of position too often. He’s not rattled by larger players coming at him, and he has no problem doing the dirty work in run defense. In coverage, Taylor uses his high football intelligence to anticipate the play as it breaks down.

Ryan Watts III (Texas) is the type of ‘Day 3 freak’ I love. He’s a big-bodied safety, but his testing numbers match that of much smaller/athletic players. He can jump out of the building, and that explosiveness shows up on tape. In addition to strength and burst, Watts has a large wingspan he uses to engulf ball-carriers and receivers. He’s a college corner but a pro safety (he played safety in high school). Watts needs to learn the nuances of the position, and that should help him have better ball production.

NFL Draft 2024

Jonah Elliss...

Andrew Mason

Jonah Elliss becomes penultimate 2024 Broncos draft pick to agree on terms

Only Troy Franklin is not yet under contract as Round 3 pick Jonah Elliss agreed to terms with the Broncos.

7 days ago

Broncos draft pick Audric Estimé...

Andrew Mason

Broncos get a majority of their draft picks signed to contracts

The Broncos got most of their rookie class to sign on the dotted line before beginning their rookie minicamp this weekend.

12 days ago

Justin Simmons...

Andrew Mason

Justin Simmons: No problem with his number getting re-issued

The No. 31 worn by Justin Simmons is already back in circulation for the Broncos, and some fans were angry -- until Simmons himself spoke.

12 days ago

Bo Nix...

Andrew Mason analyst: If Broncos traded down, Rams were poised to take Bo Nix's Chad Reuter told Orange and Blue Today that the Broncos couldn't have traded down and taken Bo Nix ... because of Sean McVay's Rams.

20 days ago

Zach Wilson...

Andrew Mason

No surprise: Broncos aren’t picking up fifth-year option on Zach Wilson

When the Broncos traded for Zach Wilson, they also traded for a fifth-year option. This week, they declined it, as expected.

21 days ago

Broncos Javonte Williams NFL Draft...

Andrew Mason

Seven returning Broncos most affected by the NFL Draft

Which returning Broncos had their outlooks most changed by the NFL Draft? The list includes plenty of familiar names.

22 days ago

The Broncos can find safety depth on day two and three of the draft