The Square Pigeon’s 2020 NFL Draft Coverage – Safeties

by Jason Belschner | April 11, 2020 |

This might be the only position group that I covered that won’t have a first-round pick. Maybe someone will stretch to take one of these guys, but I don’t believe there is a true guy who deserves it. Well, I guess my top player I’d take late in the first round.

1) Antoine Winfield     Minnesota                                                

In 2019, Antoine Winfield Jr. led Minnesota in tackles with 88. Winfield’s father (obviously of the same name) was a three-time pro bowler during his NFL career. The younger Winfield was a first team All Big 10 and All American.

Watching Winfield was really fun. There is absolutely no quit in his game. His speed allows him a very large range, and he has an explosive quickness to close on the ball. He’s also a big hitter but doesn’t miss tackles to make the highlight reel.

Injuries are a huge concern for Winfield. He only played in the first four games of his sophomore and junior seasons because of injuries. Couple that with his height, and it limits his draft stock. He needs to clean up his over commitment to play action.

2) Xavier McKinney     Alabama

Xavier McKinney looks like the guy with the most talent walking into the draft. Alabama’s leading tackler this year (95) was selected to the first team of the All SEC. McKinney also landed on the third team All American squad.

Play diagnosis is key to McKinney’s performance. It looks like he knows what the offense is doing better than most of the other team’s players. He is great in run support which allows him to pile up the tackles. He is the best when he is playing up in the box.

The coverage skills are a little worrying. His lack of overall speed (4.63 40 at the combine) limits his range when playing deep zone. He also struggles with man coverage. At the next level, he will clearly make an impact on the field as a nickel linebacker and on special teams until he gets more effective in coverage.

3) Grant Delpit     LSU

The winner of this season’s Jim Thorpe award as the nation’s best defensive back, Grant Delpit put together back-to-back great seasons. In 2018, Delpit was a first team All American; despite the Thorpe award, he fell back to the second team this year.

Delpit is a quality cover safety. He is able to line up and mirror the guy in front of him. When crashing down to make the tackle, he consistently unloads big shots against the ball carrier. He reads the play quickly and makes moves to halt the play.

The only thing that kept him below McKinney was his tackling. He does lay the lumber, but that is only when he puts him in position to touch the runner. His angles can be poor which allows the runner to break an arm tackle. Runners with any kind COD skill will make him look silly in the open field.

4) Kyle Dugger Lenoir-Rhyne

Here you go small school football fans; this is the only Division II player ever on one of my lists. I’ve watched a few, but Kyle Dugger is definitely the first one that is actually going to get drafted. Dugger played only seven games this season, but it was enough to get an invite to the Senior Bowl.

Dugger outplayed everyone on the field. This is a star athlete with FBS level schools stuck two levels down. He’s clearly the best player on the field every game. He took great angles to coral runners and tracked deep balls incredibly well.

Everything looks great, but he did it against low quality. How is he going to play when he isn’t the best player in the team, game, or conference? It is so hard to judge his film because he’s an NFL talent playing against high school JV teams. Big time boom-or-bust pick.

5) Jeremy Chinn Southern Illinois

Another small school guy but this time from the FCS. Jeremy Chinn is another player like Dugger who plays against lesser talent but has enough physical talent to play in the FBS. His size and athletic ability alone are enough to get him to the NFL before we talk about his skills.

His size and athleticism are highly remarkable. He ran a 4.45 forty with 20 reps in bench press, 41” vertical, and 138” broad jump. He uses his natural gifts to play with a great physicality and take down any ball carrier.

Chinn needs to work on his game sense. He tends to make poor decisions and fails to react properly to plays. In the FCS, he got away with his lack of football smarts, but in the NFL, he is going to need to learn what is going on around him. There is a good chance he will be a special teams player for the first few years before ever seeing the field. When he does see the field on defense, he might be better off as a linebacker.

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