Landon Collins – SS
6’0” 228 Alabama
Pick 33, Round 2 (32) Giants
Landon Collins fell out of the first round, and the Giants traded up to capitalize. After being the first safety taken in the draft at the top of the second round, his college coach Nick Saban was quick to insist that Collins was worthy of a first round selection and the G-Men got a steal. At 6’0” and 228 he has the ideal size to play great in run support, and his aggressive demeanor will make him a leader for the Giants for many years.
Redraft: With no clear starters at safety for the Giants, expect Collins to start from day one. There is always a learning curve for DBs, especially against the NFL’s increasingly complicated passing game, but safeties tend to do very well statistically in the NFC East against all of the division’s downfield passing. DBs are a dime a dozen, but if he ends up in the SS position, it wouldn’t hurt to take a flier on Collins as a low-end DB2/high end DB3.
Dynasty: Essentially a first round pick for the Giants, they will give him every opportunity to be successful. There have been several productive IDP safeties play in Tom Coughlin’s backfield – while a little lighter, the 6’0” Antrel Rolle definitely comes to mind. Collins has DB2 potential early, and if things click well for him, DB1 in the long run.
Jaquiski Tartt – SS
6’1” 221 Samford
Pick 46, Round 2 (14) 49ers
Leader of the Samford defense, Tartt finished as an FCS All-American and one of the best defensive backs to come through Alabama in some time. A head-scratching draft pick for many 49er fans, Tartt joins a backfield where Antoine Bethae has the strong safety spot anchored down, and the 49ers have already invested high draft picks in Eric Reid and Tartt’s highschool teammate, Jimmie Ward. When his number is eventually called however, Tartt’s great size and physical skills will make him an immediate contributor to IDP squads.
Redraft: Unless he’s able to unseat Bethae early, or Bethae continues to struggle with injury at the age of 31 years young, Tartt doesn’t have much IDP value this season. Reid and Ward will get all of the reps at FS and Nickel so for Tartt to have any kind of impact, he will need to do it at the strong safety position.
Dynasty: The 49ers have traditionally and consistently posted DB2 numbers at strong safety, and when Tartt is called he should be no different. A 2nd rounder is no throwaway pick, so the 49ers will certainly try to groom him and get him on the field over the next few seasons to get him on the field. Bethae is a very good safety, but his physical play style has taken a few years off of his career.
James Sample – FS
6’2” 209 Louisville
Pick 104, Round 4 (5) Jaguars
Sticking to his guns, Gus Bradley is going to do everything he can to vamp up Jacksonville’s defense. After helping create the Legion of Boom in Seattle, no one understands the need for effective safeties better. At 6’2” with a mean burst, Sample will be very successful in Bradley’s deep zone system. The Sacramento standout has great closing speed and a motor that just doesn’t quit; if he can secure the starting FS job, he and John Cyprien will be one of the most feared safety tandems in the NFL.
Redraft: There’s an uphill battle for Sample to get on the field, but not an impossible one. Picked in the 4th round, he will compete with Sergio Brown and Josh Evans for the starting FS role this preseason, though he lacks the experience to get early reps as a nickel corner. The Jaguars obviously saw something in him, but short term he won’t be more than a risky DB4.
Dynasty: With a very high ceiling in Bradley’s defense, Sample could be a fantastic DB1 a year or two down the road. After Collins, he is definitely the DB with the most dynasty upside in this year’s rookie class – but the risk is equally as high. It just depends on how long you’re willing to wait; best case scenario, Sample wins the starting job and puts up great DB1/2 stats from day one… worst case, he’s a 4th round pick that Jaguar fans won’t remember two years from now.
Trae Waynes – CB
6’0” 186 Michigan State
Pick 11, Round 1 (11) Vikings
With a 4.31 40-time and lockdown press coverage skills, Trae Waynes comes to Mike Zimmer’s man-to-man defense ready to be the Viking’s shut down corner. Waynes had three stellar seasons at Michigan State, demonstrating his ability to press and drop back, as well aggressively support the run. Think Jonathan Joseph or Leon Hall in Zimmer’s system with the Bengals – but better.
Redraft: Waynes will see the field as a starter from day 1 and will produce IDP numbers; teams love to pick on rookie corners and Waynes will be tested early. Luckily, even if he does give up some passing plays, he is a great tackler and will earn IDP points that way. Probably the third best DB in the draft for short term IDP numbers, but as a corner he is really only looking at a DB3 gig at best on your roster.
Dynasty: This is where it gets a little trickier to predict… Best-case scenario for IDP owners is that Waynes is an above average defender that stays aggressive in the run game and helps make a play on every down. Worst-case scenario is he becomes a shut-down man-to-man corner a la Darrelle Revis and the ball never comes anywhere near him. My bet is on the former.
Jordan Richards – SS
5’11” 211 Stanford
Pick 32, Round 2 (64) Patriots
It’s hard to criticize the Bill Belichick regime on draft day, but most analysts feel this pick, even at the bottom of the second round, was at least two rounds too soon. Richards was a leader for the Cardinal defense that demonstrated durability over his three productive seasons and great attack towards the ball. As a pass defender, he struggled to make a real impact and in some cases was a liability. It will be interesting to see what Belichick has up his cut-off half sleeves.
Redraft: Patrick Chung clearly hasn’t been the Patriots ideal fit at strong safety as they have let him walk before, but he is currently a much better option than the unpolished Richards. Don’t expect much from Richards this year, as he will have a lot to learn before he ever sees the field. DB5 at best.
Dynasty: A blue-collar mentality and work ethic combined with some of the best defensive coaching in the NFL… certainly seems like a recipe for success. If/When he makes it to the field as a full time SS for the Patriots, expect low end DB2 numbers with some upside. Despite Belichick’s reach, Richards is definitely worth taking a late round flier on… In the past decade and a half, Belichick has only wiffed on a few picks taken this early (Dowling ’11, Wheatley ’08, Jackson ’06).