Top 10 safeties in the 2024 NFL draft

Here are the top 10 safety prospects (with height, weight and projected round) for the NFL draft, which is set for April 25-27 in Detroit:


1. Jaden Hicks, So., Washington State (6-foot-2, 212 pounds, second): A big-hitter with good instincts. Some have questions about his speed and flexibility. He addressed the speed issue by running the 40-yard dash in 4.49 seconds at his Pro Day. He played two seasons and had 155 tackles, 3.5 sacks and three interceptions.

2. Calen Bullock, Jr., USC (6-2, 188, second or third): He’s rangy defender with excellent coverage skills. He can play over the slot receiver, but had a propensity to miss tackles that led to big plays. He ran the 40-yard dash in 4.48 seconds.

3. James Williams, Jr., Miami (6-4, 230, third): The big-hitter projects as a box safety or big nickel corner. He can cover tight ends and ran the 40-yard dash in 4.65 seconds.

4. Sione Vaki, So., Utah (5-11, 211, third for fourth): He played some running back for the Utes. He lifted 225 pounds 20 times and ran the 40-yard dash in 4.62 seconds at the NFL Scouting Combine.

5. Malik Mustapha, Jr., Wake Forest (5-10, 209, fourth or fifth): Started his career at Richmond. Was named second-team All-ACC last season. Played in 35 games at Wake Forest and had 175 tackles, 15 tackles for losses, four sacks and three interceptions.


1. Kamren Kinchens, Jr., Miami (5-11 3/4, 203, second): He was named first-team All-ACC last season. Played in 33 games and had 162 tackles and 11 interceptions, two of which were returned for touchdowns.

2. Tyler Nubin, Sr., Minnesota (6-2, 210, second): Has elite instincts and ball skills which are transferable to the pro game. He was highly productive over 48 games with 207 tackles and 13 interceptions.

3. Javon Bullard, Jr., Georgia (5-11, 197, third): Played at Baldwin High School. He was a second-team All-SEC selection by the Associated Press. He played in 12 games, starting all 12 at safety. Ranked third on the team in tackles with 56. He also had two interceptions and five breakups.

4. Cole Bishop, Jr., Utah (6-2, 209, third or fourth): He played Starr’s Mill High School. He played in 35 games and made 29 starts for the Utes. He was a three-time Pac-12 all-conference selection (second-team in 2023, honorable mention in 2021 and 22).

5. Tykee Smith, Sr., Georgia (5-10, 206, fourth): He was a second-team All-SEC pick by the coaches. He made 12 starts last season and led the team in tackles with 70 and recorded 8.5 tackles for losses and four interceptions.

Washington State defensive back Jaden Hicks (25) in the first half during an NCAA college football game against Arizona, Saturday, Nov. 19, 2022, in Tucson, Ariz. (AP Photo/Rick Scuteri)

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Credit: AP

Miami safety Kamren Kinchens is shown during the first half of an NCAA college football game against Miami (Ohio), Friday, Sept. 1, 2023, in Miami Gardens, Fla. (AP Photo/Wilfredo Lee)

Credit: AP

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Credit: AP

Georgia defensive back Tykee Smith (23) makes an interception against Vanderbilt wide receiver Junior Sherrill, right, in the first half of an NCAA college football game Saturday, Oct. 14, 2023, in Nashville, Tenn. (AP Photo/George Walker IV)

Credit: AP

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Credit: AP

Best of the rest

Strong safeties: Oregon State’s Kitan Oladap, TCU’s Mark Perry, Oregon’s Evan Williams, Texas A&M’s Demani Richardson and Washington’s Dominique Hampton. Free safeties: Auburn’s Jaylin Simpson, Maryland’s Beau Brade, Ohio State’s Josh Proctor, South Dakota’s Myles Harden and Texas Tech’s Dadrion Taylor-Demerson.

Local prospects

Jaylin Simpson, 6-1, 178, Auburn (Frederica Academy): He finished with 118 career tackles and seven interceptions. He had a 50-yard interception return for a touchdown in the 2023 season opener against Massachusetts. He had a strong showing in coverage at the Senior Bowl.

Teams in need: Cardinals, Browns, Bengals, Lions and Jets.

Need area for Falcons: No. Jessie Bates is an anchor for the defense, and DeMarcco Hellams took over for Richie Grant late last season. Micah Abernathy developed into one of the team’s top special-teamers last season.

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