Top 10 safeties in the 2021 NFL draft

TCU safety Trevon Moehrig (7) defends during an NCAA college football game against Oklahoma, Saturday, Oct. 24, 2020, in Fort Worth, Texas. Oklahoma won 33-14. (AP Photo/Brandon Wade)
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TCU safety Trevon Moehrig (7) defends during an NCAA college football game against Oklahoma, Saturday, Oct. 24, 2020, in Fort Worth, Texas. Oklahoma won 33-14. (AP Photo/Brandon Wade)

Credit: Brandon Wade

Credit: Brandon Wade

Here are the top 10 safety prospects (with projected round) for the 2021 NFL draft, which is set for April 29-May 1:

1. Trevon Moehrig, TCU, 6-foot-2, 202 pounds (first/second): He was a cornerback in high school before moving to safety in college. He won the Jim Thorpe Award as the nation’s top defensive back, first-team All-Big 12 and second-team All-American.

ExploreFalcons have a need to fill at safety

2. Jamar Johnson, Indiana, 6-0, 205 (second): A physical player who can drop down into the box and play the run very well. He had four interceptions in 2020 to go with 43 tackles in eight starts. He was named second-team All-Big Ten.

3. Jevon Holland, Oregon, 6-1, 201 (second): He had five interceptions as a freshman, which was tied for 10th in the FBS. He added four interceptions as a sophomore. He opted out of the 2020 season. He was coached in high school by former NFL running back Napoleon Kaufman.

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Central Florida defensive back Richie Grant (right) tackles Cincinnati wide receiver Jayshon Jackson after a reception Saturday, Nov. 21, 2020, in Orlando, Fla. (John Raoux/AP)

Credit: AP

Central Florida defensive back Richie Grant (right) tackles Cincinnati wide receiver Jayshon Jackson after a reception  Saturday, Nov. 21, 2020, in Orlando, Fla. (John Raoux/AP)
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Central Florida defensive back Richie Grant (right) tackles Cincinnati wide receiver Jayshon Jackson after a reception Saturday, Nov. 21, 2020, in Orlando, Fla. (John Raoux/AP)

Credit: AP

Credit: AP

4. Richie Grant, Central Florida, 6-0, 194 (second): He tied for third with six interceptions in the FBS as a sophomore. He was first-team All-American Athletic Conference after making 109 tackles over 13 starts. He continued to develop over his career.

5. Andre Cisco, Syracuse, 6-0, 209 (second): He had seven interceptions, 18 passes defensed and was named a third-team All-American as a freshman. Played in only two games in 2020 after suffering an injury during warm-ups. Over 24 games and 21 starts, he made 136 tackles, 29 passes defended, 13 interceptions, forced two fumbles and had one fumble recovery.

6. Ar’Darius Washington, TCU, 5-8, 178 (second): Combined with Moehrig to form one of the top safety tandems in the FBS. He redshirted in 2018 and moved into the starting lineup in 2019. He earned Big 12 defensive freshman-of-the-year honors after picking off five passes. A bruising hitter, who finished with 46 tackles. He was honorable-mention all-Big 12 in 2020.

7. Hamsah Nasirildeen, Florida State, 6-4, 220 (second): He played as a freshman and made two starts. In 2018, he finished with 91 tackles and was named the team’s most improved player as a sophomore. He played in the Senior Bowl and is compared with Falcons linebacker Foye Oluokun by NFL.com analyst Chad Reuter.

8. Tyree Gillespie, Missouri, 6-0, 210 (fourth): He started eight games and made 46 tackles last season. The Tigers move him around as he spent time at both free and strong safety. He was invited to the Senior Bowl.

Credit: AJC

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NFL Network’s Daniel Jeremiah projects Georgia safety Richard LeCounte to be a fourth-round selection in the 2021 NFL Draft.

Credit: AJC

9. Richard LeCounte, Georgia, 5-11, 190 (sixth): He played as a freshman and started 13 of 14 games as a sophomore for the Bulldogs. In 2020, he earned first-team All-SEC after playing in only six games before a horrific accident where he was hit by multiple cars while riding a dirt bike. His injuries didn’t require surgery, and he played a snap in the bowl game.

10. Talanoa Hufanga, USC, 6-1, 215 (sixth): He was a three-year starter for the Trojans, who played out of a 4-2-5 nickel base defense. He played near the line of scrimmage in a hybrid safety/linebacker role. He averaged 10.3 tackles per game and led the team with four interceptions. He was named the Pac-12′s defensive player of the year.

Best of the rest: Pittsburgh’s Paris Ford, Missouri’s Joshuah Bledsoe, Virginia Tech’s Divine Deablo, Illinois State’s Christian Uphoff, Florida’s Shawn Davis, Texas’ Caden Sterns, Auburn’s Jamien Sherwood and Cincinnati James Wiggins.

Need area for Falcons? Yes, the Falcons did not keep any of their top four safeties from last season in Keanu Neal, Ricardo Allen, Damonate Kazee or Sharrod Neasman. They did sign journyman safety Erik Harris and Duron Harmon in free agency.

Top 3 safeties for 2022 draft: 1. Kyle Hamilton, Notre Dame. 2. Marcus Hooker, Ohio State; 3. Bubba Bolden, Miami.

Explore2021 NFL Draft preview

AJC’S POSITION-BY-POSITION SERIES

QUARTERBACKS: How far will Justin Fields drop in draft? | Top 10 QBs

RUNNING BACKS: Plenty of prospects to pick from | Top 10 RBs

WIDE RECEIVERS: Draft deep with talent | Top 10 WRs

TIGHT ENDS: Ability to create mismatches is key | Top 10 TEs

OFFENSIVE TACKLES: A ‘nasty’ bunch | Top 10 OTs

OFFENSIVE GUARDS/CENTERS: The men in the middle | Top 10 C/OGs

END RUSHERS: Pass on this draft stock | Top 10 DEs

DEFENSIVE TACKLES: One star among lackluster block | Top 10 DTs

LINEBACKERS: Deep class for position | Top 10 LBs

CORNERBACKS: Plethora of options for first two rounds | Top 10 CBs

SAFETIES: Falcons likely will add position player | Top 10 Safeties

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