Draft Snapshot: 10 Safeties to Watch

The clock is ticking on the 2018 NFL Draft.

One of the league’s most important events kicks off with the first round at 7 p.m. (CT) tonight in Dallas. The second and third rounds will be held Friday and begin at 6 p.m. (CT). Round 4 will start at 11 a.m. (CT) on Saturday and be followed by Rounds 5-7.

The Vikings currently have eight selections in the draft, beginning with the 30th overall pick.

Vikings.com is taking a glance at the top prospects at each position leading up to the draft.

April 16: Quarterbacks

April 17: Running backs

April 18: Receivers

April 19: Tight ends

April 20: Tackles

April 21: Centers & Guards

April 22: Defensive tackles

April 23: Defensive ends

April 24:* Linebackers*

April 25: Cornerbacks

April 26: Safeties

Where the Vikings Stand

The Vikings are returning Andrew Sendejo and All-Pro Harrison Smith – the duo has started 27 games together, including two playoff contests, in the past two seasons. They also have Anthony Harris, who has been a significant contributor on special teams as well as a dependable reserve on defense when Smith or Sendejo have missed time.

Jayron Kearse utilized his speed as a gunner on special teams. Jack Tocho, a late-round draft pick in 2017 also is on the roster.

Recent Draft History (over past five years)

Total number of safeties taken: 103

Round 1: 13

Round 2: 13

Round 3: 11

Round 4: 18

Round 5: 14

Round 6: 17

Round 7: 17

The Prospects (based on *rankings by CBS Sports *

Strong Safety*

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1. Derwin James  

Florida State, Redshirt sophomore, 6-foot-2, 215 pounds

Combine numbers

40-yard dash:* *4.47 seconds (tied for seventh among safeties)
Bench press: 21 reps of 225 pounds (tied for third among safeties)

Vertical jump: 40 inches (fifth among safeties)

Broad jump: 11 feet (third among safeties)

2017 stats: Started all 12 games played; 84 tackles (49 solo); two interceptions, including one returned for a touchdown; 5.5 tackles for loss; 1.0 sack; 11 passes broken up; added six kickoff returns for 170 yards and a touchdown; First-Team All-America (FWAA); Second-Team All-America (Walter Camp, *Associated Press, *Sporting News and AFCA); First-Team All-ACC

2. Ronnie Harrison   

Alabama, Junior, 6-foot-3, 214 pounds

Combine numbers

Vertical jump: 34 inches

Broad jump: 10 feet

2017 stats: Started all 14 games; 74 tackles (43 solo); three interceptions; 4.5 tackles for loss; 2.5 sacks; four passes broken up; Second-Team All-American (Sports Illustrated); First-Team All-SEC (Associated Press); Second-Team All-SEC (coaches); tied for the team’s leading tackler

3. DeShon Elliott  

Texas, Junior, 6-foot-1, 210 pounds

Combine numbers

40-yard dash: 4.58 seconds
Bench press: 15 reps of 225 pounds

Vertical jump: 36 inches

Broad jump: 10 feet, 1 inch

2017 stats: Started all 12 games; 63 tackles (50 solo); six interceptions, including two returned for touchdowns; 8.5 tackles for loss; 1.5 sacks; nine passes broken up; three forced fumbles; Jim Thorpe Award finalist (nation’s best DB); unanimous First-Team All-American; First-Team All-Big 12 (coaches, Associated Press)

4. Jordan Whitehead  

Pittsburgh, Junior, 5-foot-10, 195 pounds

Combine numbers

Bench press: 21 reps of 225 pounds

2017 stats: Started all nine games played; 60 tackles (41 solo); one interception; four passes broken up; one fumble recovery; also played on offense, rushing for 142 yards and a touchdown on 22 carries; Honorable Mention All-ACC (coaches)

5. Tray Matthews  

Auburn, Senior, 6-foot-0, 207 pounds

Combine numbers

Matthews was not invited to the 2018 NFL Scouting Combine

2017 stats: Started all 13 games; 59 tackles (36 solo); one interception; 2.0 tackles for loss; 1.0 sack; two passes broken up; Bednarik Award watch list; Reese’s Senior Bowl invitee 

<span style="text-decoration: underline;">Free Safety*</span>

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1. Minkah Fitzpatrick   

Alabama, Junior, 6-foot-1, 201 pounds

Combine numbers

Note: *Fitzpatrick was categorized as a CB in the on-field testing drills *

40-yard dash: 4.46 seconds

Bench press: 14 reps of 225 pounds

Vertical jump: 33 inches

Broad jump: 10 feet, 1 inch

2017 stats: Started all 13 games; 60 tackles (38 solo); one interception; 8.0 tackles for loss; 1.5 sacks; eight passes broken up; one forced fumble; also returned one kickoff for 39 yards; team captain; Bednarik Award recipient (nation’s best collegiate defensive player); Jim Thorpe Award recipient (nation’s top collegiate DB); third player in NCAA history to win both awards in same season, joining Charles Woodson and Patrick Peterson; unanimous First-Team All-American; First-Team All-SEC (Associated Press, coaches); Jason Witten Collegiate Man of the Year finalist

2. Justin Reid  

Stanford, Junior, 6-foot-1, 204 pounds

Combine numbers

40-yard dash: 4.4 seconds (tied for second among safeties)

Bench press: 16 reps of 225 pounds

Vertical jump: 36.5 inches (eighth among safeties)

Broad jump: 10 feet, 8 inches (tied for fifth among safeties)

3-cone drill: 6.65 seconds (third among safeties)

20-yard shuttle: 4.15 seconds (third among safeties)

2017 stats: Started all 14 games; 99 tackles (52 solo); five interceptions; 6.5 tackles for loss; 1.0 sack; six passes broken up; Second-Team All-America (defensive back – FWAA); Second-Team All-America (safety – Associated Press); First-Team All-Pac 12; Second-Team Pac-12 All-Academic team member; Bednarik Award watch list; Jim Thorpe Award semifinalist

3. Quin Blanding

Virginia, Senior, 6-foot-2, 207 pounds

Combine numbers

40-yard dash: 4.63 seconds

Vertical jump: 31.5 inches

Broad jump: 10 feet, 2 inches

*2017 stats: *Started all 13 games; 137 tackles (62 solo); four interceptions, including one returned for a touchdown; 3.5 tackles for loss; two passes broken up; became Virginia’s all-time record holder in career tackles (495); First-Team All-American (Bleacher Report, SB Nation); Second-Team All-American (Walter Camp, FWAA, Sporting News, USA Today, Phil Steele); Third-Team All-American (Associated Press); First-Team All-ACC; Touchdown Club of Richmond’s Defensive Back of the Year; Jim Thorpe Award finalist

4. Armani Watts

Texas A&M, 6-foot-3, 252 pounds

Combine numbers

Bench press: 13 reps of 225 pounds

Vertical jump: 35 inches

Broad jump: 10 feet

3-cone drill: 7.25 seconds

20-yard shuttle: 4.37 seconds

2017 stats: Started all 12 games; 87 tackles (57 solo); four interceptions; 10 tackles for loss; one-half sack; five passes broken up; two forced fumbles; Third-Team All-American (Associated Press); First-Team All-SEC; team captain; Reese’s Senior Bowl invitee

5. Jessie Bates III

Wake Forest, Redshirt junior, 6-foot-1, 200 pounds

Combine numbers

40-yard dash: 4.5 seconds (ninth among safeties)

Vertical jump: 35.5 inches (10th among safeties)

Broad jump: 9 feet, 9 inches

3-cone drill: 6.78 seconds (fourth among safeties)

20-yard shuttle: 4.26 seconds (fifth among safeties)

60-yard shuttle: 11.34 seconds

2017 stats: Started all 11 games played; 79 tackles (50 solo); one interception; 6.0 tackles for loss; five passes broken up; one forced fumble; also returned eight punts for 161 yards and a touchdown; All-ACC Honorable Mention

Join fellow Vikings fans tonight on the field at U.S. Bank Stadium for the *Miller Lite Vikings Draft Party. Follow the first round of the NFL Draft as we welcome the newest member of the Minnesota Vikings. Tickets available now – click here to learn more!*

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