Most of the Denver Broncos mock drafts we see out there have Denver taking a defensive lineman or cornerback. But with Mike Adams in the last year of his contract, Quinton Carter in legal trouble, and Rahim Moore not exactly ending the season on a high note, safety is a higher position of need for the Broncos than many realize. Let's take a look at some of this year's top prospects at the position.
Kenny Vaccaro, Texas - 6'0, 217lbs
Kenny Vaccaro ain't afraid of no contact.
The gist: Kenny Vaccaro is considered by many as the top safety in this year's draft. Despite having a strong junior year he returned to Austin for his senior year and put up big numbers yet again.
Pros: Extremely physical. Kenny Vaccaro ain't afraid of no contact. This Longhorn will aggressively run down hill to get to the runner. He is an excellent tackler with a ton of energy. Vaccaro is a sideline-to-sideline kind of player, he will find his way to the ball and make an impact once he gets there. He was used mainly around the line of scrimmage, which would explain how he racked up an insane 92 tackles.
Solid open-field tackler, uses great effort and his upper-body strength to drag down ball carriers.
Cons: Since Vaccaro played mainly around the line, his back field skills come into question. While he excels at man coverage can you trust him in the back as the single high safety in a cover one shell? Not yet at least.
Matt Elam, Florida - 5'10, 208lbs
Matt Elam is a human highlight reel of hits.
The gist: Surprisingly, the movie "Here Comes the Boom" was not about Matt Elam. This kid lives for doling out bone crushing hits. With an on field personality similar to the great Brian Dawkins, Elam is always exciting to watch.
Pros: Matt Elam is a human highlight reel of hits. At five feet ten inches tall some have questioned his size, but anyone who has received a hit from Elam will tell you that it hardly matters.
Cons: You live by the big hit and die by the big hit. Elam tried too hard sometimes to force the highlight. He is not a consistent tackler and will throw his body into a player which will lead to whiffed tackles at the next level. Since he was used mainly around the line of scrimmage his coverage skills are thrown into question.
Tries to make the big hit far too often, lunges, leads with shoulder, or leaves his feet rather than just wrapping up.
Denver probability: Low. Elam's lack of coverage skills for a team that is not in dire need of a safety will be a turn off.
Jonathan Cyprien, FIU - 6'0, 217lbs
Small school, big numbers.
The gist: A prospect on the rise. Before the Senior Bowl not many knew of Jonathan Cyprien. After a stellar week in Mobile, the safety from the small Sun Belt Conference is flirting with the first round.
Pros: Small school, big numbers. Cyprien was absolutely dominant during his time at Flordia International University racking up 365 tackles in 45 games. Durability is something that can sometimes be overlooked when assessing a prospect. Cyprien has had very little injury trouble over his career.
Cons: Cyprien's speed keeps him just a touch out of the elite range of safeties this draft. While he plays well in zone coverage his speed could prohibit him from playing the single high safety role at the next level.
Doesn't have elite range or the height/length combination to play as a single-deep safety. Quick enough to make a hit after the catch when deep, but is often a step slow to recognize the pass coming into his area.
Denver probability: Medium. Cyrpien is that hard working kind of player the Broncos will pin onto their draft board.
Eric Reid, LSU - 6'1, 213lbs
The gist: Eric Reid was once apart of an insane secondary. As a freshman Reid, Patrick Peterson, and Morris Claiborne played side by side, terrorizing SEC quarterbacks. However, after those two left for the pros Reid was left exposed and struggled a bit during his junior year.
Pros: Eric Reid shows versatility by playing up in the box and back in coverage. As a physical player, Reid is no stranger to giving out big hits. His height provides him an advantage in 50/50 balls and gives him the versatility to cover tight ends. Reid comes from an extremely athletic pedigree.
His [Reid] father is in the school's athletic hall of fame as an All-American hurdler, winning the NCAA championship in the 110-meter hurdles as a senior in 1987.
Cons: Reid's performance fell after the departure of Morris Claiborne. He has a tendency to be over aggressive which can cause him to take a bad angle and get burned on the play. Reid was burned on more occasions than you would have liked to have seen during his junior season.
Denver probability: Medium-Low. There is a lot to like about Eric Reid and the Broncos may see that too. He would do well sitting behind Mike Adams and coming in for special packages. However, there is a lot of buzz that the Packers are interested in Reid, even enough to pick him with at the 26th selection. The Broncos might have to feel pretty frisky to land Eric Reid.
Which of these guys should the Broncos target, if any, Broncos fans?