With the NFL draft firmly in the rearview mirror, it is time to look closely at the slew of defensive players joining the NFL. The we need to decide which players are ready to contribute for your IDP rosters. Up first: The Safety, these Safeties are all superb additions to the NFL and to your IDP teams.
A surprise slide into round 2, many had tipped the Southern Illinois man to be a 1st round pick. Jeremy Chinn landed in Carolina and instantly rose to the top of Matt Rhule’s depth chart. Quite simply, Chinn should be your number 1 target in IDP rookie drafts. Carolina’s new #21 is primed to become a key piece of the revamped Carolina defense for years to come and can do the same for your IDP roster.
Should the draft capital not be enough to convince you, Chinn has virtually no competition for playing time in the Panther’s secondary. Though the 6’3” 219lb frame may deter GMs who like their safeties to fit the smaller Minkah Fitzpatrick/Jamal Adams size, Chinn’s measurables are off the charts. Boasting a 4.45 40-yard dash, a 41-inch broad jump and 20 reps on the bench dress, Chinn is a superb NFL-ready physical specimen.
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Once NFL coaches sharpen his football IQ and increase Chinn’s ability to digest the routes being run around him, Chinn could genuinely become a Kam Chancellor figure for the Panthers and develop into a top 5 safety in IDP. Lining up against division rivals Michael Thomas, Alvin Kamara, Mike Evans, Chris Godwin, Rob Gronkowski, Calvin Ridley and Julio Jones (yikes!) guarantee a ton of tackles, possible INTs and even pick 6s for the Panthers rookie.
Those AFC South studs point towards pass-heavy, shootout style divisional battles this season and (McCaffrey aside) Carolina look to have the weakest offense of the lot. Chinn is assured a ton of time on the field this year with the team likely to be playing from behind. Though he may not have the biggest name of other newly drafted DBs, Chinn is my favourite prospect of the lot. Besides, who does not want to be rooting for Chinn when he faces Tom Brady and the 6’6”, 245lb Rob Gronkowski?
Similar players: Kam Chancellor, Reshad Jones
One player who does fit the prototypical NFL safety is new Giants man Xavier McKinney. Taken early in the 2nd round by the G-Men, McKinney will slide into the New York secondary alongside the newly extended Jabril Peppers.
Arguably the most talked-about DB prospect. The Alabama graduate comes a close second to Chinn and can start on your roster from day 1. McKinney is comfortable anywhere in the secondary. Lining up at free safety, strong safety and even at cornerback whilst at Alabama. Unlike the more physical reliant Chinn, McKinney has an impressive football IQ and recorded 95 tackles and 16.5 big plays last year for the Crimson Tide.
With the Giants facing Amari Cooper, Michael Gallup, Terry McLaurin, Zach Ertz. Plus new draftees Jalen Reagor and CeeDee Lamb in the NFC East this year. A slam-dunk rookie DB was a must for New York. McKinney loves coverage, defending 15 passes over his last two college seasons and will become a headache for NFC East pass-catchers. McKinney can easily stack up tackles, picks and most importantly points for your IDP team.
Similar players: Minkah Fitzpatrick, Jessie Bates
After trading Jabri Peppers away in the infamous Odell Beckham Jr. trade, Cleveland needed to address the secondary in this year’s draft. GM Andrew Berry opted for LSU man Grant Delpit in the 3rd round. Instantly rising to the top of their depth chart.
A very similar player to McKinney, the 6’2” 213lb man differs when we investigate tackling. The LSU Tiger missed 18 tackles in 2018 and a further 20 this past college season. Whilst NFL scouts have blamed bad angles, this is something that can certainly be coached out in the NFL. Delpit’s versatility, size and speed will give him a starting berth alongside Karl Joseph in the Cleveland secondary.
The AFC North has long been the laughingstock of the NFL; yet Baker Mayfield, Lamar Jackson and rookie Joe Burrow are looking to turn the tide on the division with their newly revamped rosters.
Delpit follows a long line of all-star LSU defensive backs and his playing time alone makes him a must-draft prospect. Should Cleveland DB coach DeWayne Morris Walker mould Delpit into a more tackle friendly prospect, the safety could mix his 6’3” frame and good size hands to become one of the best IDP options taken in this draft.
Similar players: Harrison Smith, Ha-Ha Clinton Dix
Small school? Check. Sub 4.50 dash? Check. 40” + vertical jump? Check. In hindsight, we should not have been so surprised. Bill Belichick selected Lenoir-Rhyne’s Kyle Dugger with their 1st pick in the 2020 draft (after trading back into the 2nd round).
Big, fast, crazy athletic and able to play both safety and run support. Dugger was born to play in New England. The Patriots rookie is a natural playmaker with a versatility that makes him a perfect fit for the NFL’s best defense.
So why does Dugger sit so low? As previously mentioned New England boasted the best defence in the league last year. Any rookie coming into a top-tier defense without a major departure is going to struggle for playing time. Dugger currently sits 3rd on unofficial depth charts. He needs to dislodge Belichick favourite’s Patrick Chung and Devin McCourty to see regular starting time.
Although a day 1 starting berth looks unlikely. Dugger will also be used for run support in a run-heavy division. And will, therefore, rack up tackles when not playing safety. The Patriots have yet to add to a Brady and Gronk-less offense. They could yet again ask their defense to do the heaving lifting. Meaning increased game time for Dugger. Draft him in dynasty and stick him on the watchlist in redraft. If watching the NFL has taught me one thing, always trust Bill.
Similar players: Patrick Chung, Derwin James
You are telling me there is a DB who finished his college career with an 83 tackle, 3.5 sack, 2 forced fumble and 7 interceptions career year and he sits at number 5 in the rankings? Please welcome Tampa’s new safety Antoine Winfield Jr.
As impressive as his final college numbers are, Winfield Jr. still needs to dislodge Mike Edwards and Justin Evans from the Buccaneers secondary. The draft capital is certainly there, with Tampa spending a 2nd round pick on Winfield to bolster their Safety room. Tampa’s new rookie is on the smaller side at 5’9”, 203lbs and the measurables point towards a ‘box safety’ with the ability to both get his hands on the ball and rack up his tackle count.
Tom Brady may be the GOAT, but we have no idea how the NFL offseason will currently work. Should the Tampa offense take time to gel, Winfield will have further opportunities on the field to rise-up the depth chart and lock a starting spot.
His interception record is indicative of a high football-IQ, great vision and ability to read both receivers and Quarterbacks. Throw in a 40-yard dash time of 4.45 and it becomes easy to see why the Minnesota product had such a high tackle count in his final college year. If he can acclimatize to the NFL early and get onto the field consistently. We could be looking at another great Tampa DB.
Similar players: Budda Baker, Earl Thomas Jr.
So that’s the Safeties covered. Hold tight for Cornerbacks next up!