In the lead-up to the 2020 NFL Draft, Vikings.com is taking a position-by-position look at prospects who have garnered a range of attention from national outlets. The series will include rankings by national outlets, stats and background information for multiple prospects. We'll also include comments that experts shared during interviews.
EAGAN, Minn. — The 2020 NFL Draft is just days away, and we've reached the conclusion of our positional breakdown of draft prospects.
Where does safety fall into that mix? The Viking currently have two of them under contract in starters Harrison Smith and Anthony Harris, with the latter getting the franchise tag earlier this offseason.
Minnesota currently holds 12 total picks — including the 22nd and 25th overall selections — and is poised to add a handful of young talent to the roster.
Former Vikings linebacker Ben Leber, now an analyst for KFAN 100.3-FM and Vikings Entertainment Network, broke down the 2020 class of safeties.
NFL.com's Daniel Jeremiah currently has four safeties in his overall Top 50: 22. Xavier McKinney, 38. Grant Delpit, 43. Jeremy Chinn, 47. Antoine Winfield, Jr. Note: Jeremiah listed Clemson's Isaiah Simmons as a LB/S and his No. 3 overall prospect. We included Simmons with linebackers.
ESPN's Mel Kiper, Jr., has a single safety in his overall Top 25: 24. Winfield, Jr.
PFF included six safeties in its overall Top 100: 18. Delpit, 25. Ashtyn Davis, 32. McKinney, 45. Terrell Burgess, 79. Winfield, Jr. and 89. Julian Blackmon.
Positional rankings by NFL.com's Bucky Brooks, ESPN's Mel Kiper, Jr., analytics site Pro Football Focus and The Athletic's Dane Brugler impacted the players listed for this series. Rankings by each are noted under each prospect.
Rankings: No. 1 by Brooks and Brugler; No. 2 by Kiper and PFF
School: Alabama | Year: Jr. | Ht: 6-foot-0 | Wt. 201 pounds
2019 stats: Recorded team-high 95 tackles, 5.5 tackles for loss, 3.0 sacks, five pass breakups, three interceptions (including a pick-6), four forced fumbles and a blocked kick; First-Team All-SEC selection by coaches and media; Consensus All-American, including Second-Team All-American honors from multiple outlets; semifinalist for the Thorpe Award, which is presented annually to the nation's top defensive back
Opportunistic player: McKinney tied for fourth in the country with four forced fumbles in 2019, a total that led Alabama and the SEC. McKinney also had an interception return for a touchdown in each of the past two seasons. He finished his college career with five interceptions, five forced fumbles and a fumble recovery in two seasons as a starter.
Rankings: No. 1 by PFF; No. 2 by Brooks; No. 3 by Kiper; No. 4 by Brugler
School: LSU | Year: Jr. | Ht: 6-foot 2 | Wt. 213 pounds
2019 stats: Recorded 65 tackles, 4.5 tackles for loss, 2.0 sacks and seven pass breakups, two interceptions, one forced fumble and one fumble recovery; First-Team All-SEC selection by coaches and media; Consensus All-American, including First-Team All-American honors from multiple outlets; winner of the Thorpe Award, which is presented annually to the nation's top defensive back
What's in a number?: Delpit requested to wear No. 7 in college, a historic digit within the LSU program. Previous players to wear that number include safety Tyrann Mathieu, cornerback Patrick Peterson and running back Leonard Fournette, all of whom have had notable NFL careers. Delpit was a two-time All-American with the Tigers.
Learnings from Leber: "Everybody is really high on Grant Delpit, and rightfully so. He has so much position flexibility, and that's the one thing that really shows out when you watch his tape. He can blitz a little bit on the outside, can play in the box and shows an ability to be a deep center fielder. He's really good at understanding spatial awareness and route recognition and puts his body in a good position to close off windows."
Antoine Winfield, Jr.
Rankings: No. 1 by Kiper; No. 4 by Brooks and PFF; No. 6 by Brugler
School: Minnesota | Year: Redshirt Soph. | Ht: 5-foot 9 | Wt. 203 pounds
2019 stats: Recorded team-high 88 tackles, 3.5 tackles for loss, 3.0 sacks, two forced fumbles and tied school record with seven interceptions (including one pick-6); First-Team All-Big Ten selection by coaches and media; Big Ten Defensive Back of the Year; Gophers Team MVP; won Carl Eller Award as team's Outstanding Defensive Player; Consensus All-American selection
Like father, like son: The prospect's father, Antoine Winfield, enjoyed a notable 14-season NFL career that included 2004-12 with the Vikings, a span highlighted by three Pro Bowl appearances. Winfield played nine seasons in Purple, starting 115 games and recording 21 interceptions, including a pair he returned for touchdowns. Winfield, Jr., spoke of his father's impact on him at the combine.
Learnings from Leber: "He's just a stud. The nice thing about the draft, from the end of the season until now, is that we have all this time. For a guy like this, it takes that amount of time … to watch the tape and break down a stigma. He didn't come from a blue-blood university. Yes, he carries a name, but if Antoine Winfield, Jr., was playing in the SEC, he'd be getting a lot more love. I think people are starting to respect his game a little bit more. He can compete for being the top safety taken off the board, and I think that is deserved."
Rankings: No. 3 by PFF; No. 5 by Kiper, Brooks and Brugler
School: California | Year: Redshirt Sr. | Ht: 6-foot 1 | Wt. 202 pounds
2019 stats: Recorded team-high 57 tackles, one tackle for loss, two forced fumbles, two fumble recoveries, two interceptions and four pass breakups; Second-Team All-Pac 12 selection
Two-sport star: Davis began his collegiate career at California in track in field, as he was a four-time All-American and was the Pac-12 champion in the 100-meter hurdles as a junior. He did not play football as a freshman, and primarily played on special teams in his first two seasons with the program. He was one of three national finalists for the Burlsworth Trophy, which is presented annually to a player who began his college football career as a walk-on.
Learnings from Leber: "He's got fantastic track speed and you can see that in his game. I think he's better in long runs and as a deep center fielder … he can really close some ground and take the ball out of the air. He doesn't have the greatest athletic movements in a short area — not the best feet or fluid hips — but he's going to come down and is going to hit you."
Rankings: No. 3 by Brugler; No. 4 by Kiper; No. 5 by PFF
School: Lenoir-Rhyne (Division II) | Year: Sr. | Ht: 6-foot 1 | Wt. 217 pounds
2019 stats: Recorded 31 tackles, one tackle for loss and two interceptions in just seven games due to injury; First-Team All-South Atlantic Conference selection; Consensus All-American, including First-Team selection by D2Football.com; winner of the Cliff Harris Award, which is given to the best defensive player in Division II; participated in Reese's Senior Bowl
Versatile specialist: Dugger is Lenoir-Rhyne's all-time leader in punt return yardage, as he averaged 13.9 yards on 67 career returns and had six touchdowns in college. And although he was hampered by injuries in 2019, Dugger made an early impact, recording a 30-yard interception return for a score on Lenoir-Rhyne's first defensive series of the season. Dugger also was named National Special Teams Player of the Week on Oct. 7 after returning two punts for touchdowns against Virginia-Wise. It was the second game of his career with two punt return touchdowns.
Rankings: No. 3 by Brooks; No. 2 by Brugler; No. 6 by Kiper; No. 10 by PFF
School: Southern Illinois | Year: Sr. | Ht: 6-foot 3 | Wt. 221 pounds
2019 stats: Recorded 71 tackles, 2.5 tackles for loss, 1.0 sack, four interceptions and one fumble recovery in 10 games; First-Team All-Missouri Valley Football Conference; Consensus All-American; participated in Reese's Senior Bowl
Conference accolades: Chinn was named to the Missouri Valley Football Conference's All-Newcomer team as a freshman in 2016. He followed that up with Second-Team All-MVFC honors as a sophomore before jumping up to First-Team All-MVFC accolades as a junior. Chinn then repeated First-Team honors as a senior to gain an all-conference honor in each of his four seasons at Southern Illinois.
Rankings: No. 7 by PFF and Brugler; No. 9 by Kiper
School: Utah | Year: Sr. | Ht: 5-foot 11 | Wt. 202 pounds
2019 stats: Recorded 81 tackles, 0.5 sacks, 7.5 tackles for loss, one interception, two fumble recoveries and six passes defensed in 10 starts; Honorable Mention All-Pac-12 selection
Converted wide receiver: Burgess began his college career as both a wide receiver and defensive back, but he switched to defense full-time after his first season at Utah. He had one catch for seven yards as a freshman. Burgess appeared in 45 games but wasn't a season-long starter until 2019.