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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 

Free Safety*

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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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