NFL Draft – FS Rankings

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Bob Donnan-USA TODAY Sports

6.) Tre Boston, North Carolina (6’0, 204): Boston has great ball skills (9 INTs last two seasons) and improved every year at NC. He’s not a burner, but has good instincts and if he continues to develop Boston has the potential to be a starting NFL free safety. Draft projection: 3rd-4th round

7.) Kenny Ladler, Vanderbilt (6’0, 207): Instinctive coverage safety and leader in the secondary. Ladler showed a knack for big plays his senior year with 5 INTs and 5 forced fumbles. Ladler is a good football player, but his draft stock dropped due to his 4.7 40-time at the combine. Draft projection: 4th-5th round

8.) Jonathan Dowling, Western Kentucky (6’3, 190): A better athlete then you would normally find at WKU, Dowling started out at Florida before being dismissed for “authority issues”. Dowling has great size for a safety, good ball skills, and a knack for forcing turnovers (9 INTs, 8 forced fumbles in 2 seasons). He has an issue with missing tackles due to his penchant for head-hunting, but is a legit enforcer in the middle. Dowling has the talent of a 2nd or 3rd rounder with the only concern being his willingness to accept coaching, stemming from his incident with Florida coaches over 3 years ago. Worth a the gamble early on day 3. Draft projection: 4th-5th round

9.) Nickoe Whitley, Mississippi St  (6’0, 205): Ultra-aggressive safety who constantly goes for the big-hit. His violent play tends to get Whitley in trouble at times, he racked up far too many personal fouls, including one for punching an opposing player. He needs to get his emotions under control, but his fiery playing style does cause plenty of turnovers; Whitley had 15 interceptions and 5 forced fumbles during his time with the Bulldogs. He has been injury prone with a ruptured achilles in 2011 and a torn ACL in 2013. The ACL tear happened in week 3 last season and he played through it the rest of the year! That’s pretty impressive. Draft projection: 7th-UFA

10.) Ty Zimmerman, Kansas St (6’1, 204): Just average speed and strength, but great instincts. Zimmerman was KSU’s starting free safety for three seasons and totaled 13 INTs. Zimmerman excels in coverage with good ball skills and reliable hands, but is not the best tackler. I think he has good enough football instincts to become a starter, but worst case he could contribute in sub packages and on special teams. Draft projection: 6th-UFA