5 Things NFL Scouts Look For in Safeties

As the heartbeat of a defense, safeties play a pivotal role in the game of football. Their ability to read plays, cover ground, and deliver bone-crushing hits can turn the tide of a game in an instant. But what exactly are NFL scouts searching for when evaluating college safeties? Let’s dive into the playbook and uncover the key attributes and skills that catch the eyes of NFL talent evaluators.

1. Coverage Skills

In today’s pass-heavy NFL, safeties must excel in coverage. Scouts closely scrutinize a safety’s ability to blanket receivers, tight ends, and running backs in both man-to-man and zone coverage schemes. They look for safeties with fluid hips, quick change-of-direction ability, and exceptional instincts to diagnose plays and break on the ball. Whether it’s tracking deep routes, covering slot receivers, or matching up against speedy tight ends, a safety’s coverage skills are paramount.

2. Ball Skills and Playmaking Ability

The best safeties possess a nose for the football and a knack for creating turnovers. NFL scouts value safeties who can highpoint passes, make acrobatic interceptions, and jar the ball loose with bone-jarring hits. Playmaking safeties not only disrupt passing lanes but also capitalize on opportunities to swing the momentum in their team’s favor. Whether it’s intercepting a pass in the end zone or forcing a crucial fumble, safeties who make game-changing plays are highly coveted by NFL teams.

3. Tackling and Run Support

In addition to their coverage responsibilities, safeties must be willing and able tacklers in the run game. NFL scouts assess a safety’s tackling technique, form, and physicality when diagnosing running plays and attacking ball carriers. Safeties who can fill alleys with aggression, shed blocks, and wrap up securely are valued for their ability to limit gains and set the tone for their defense. Versatility is key, as safeties must be able to seamlessly transition from coverage to run support based on the flow of the game.

4. Football IQ and Communication Skills

Safeties serve as the quarterbacks of the defense, responsible for aligning teammates, making pre-snap adjustments, and communicating coverage responsibilities. NFL scouts seek safeties with high football IQs, who demonstrate a deep understanding of offensive concepts, route combinations, and situational football. Leadership qualities, on-field awareness, and the ability to command the secondary are essential intangibles that elevate a safety’s draft stock.

5. Athleticism and Versatility

In today’s NFL, safeties are asked to wear many hats, from covering slot receivers to blitzing off the edge to lining up as a pseudo-linebacker in sub-packages. Scouts value safeties with elite athleticism, versatility, and positional flexibility to thrive in various roles within the defense. Whether it’s matching up against speedsters in coverage or flying downhill to stuff the run, safeties who can impact the game in multiple ways are highly coveted by NFL teams.

Conclusion: Blueprint for Success

In conclusion, NFL scouts seek college safeties who possess a rare combination of coverage skills, ball-hawking ability, tackling prowess, football IQ, and athleticism. Safeties who excel in coverage, make game-changing plays, provide stout run support, communicate effectively, and showcase versatility are the blueprint for success at the next level. As college safeties aspire to make their mark in the NFL, honing these key attributes and skills will undoubtedly catch the eyes of talent evaluators and pave the way for a successful transition to the highest level of the game.

Author: Chad Wilson

Chad Wilson is the owner of All Eyes DB Camp and author of "101 DB Tips". He played college football at the University of Miami and briefly in the NFL for the Seattle Seahawks. Over his 15 year high school football coaching career, he tutored over a dozen Division I defensive backs and as a trainer has worked with NFL All Pros, first round draft picks, college football All Americans and Top 10 ranked high school football prospects.

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