Potential Patriots: 5 safeties to keep an eye on in NFL draft

Ryan Hannable
April 23, 2019 - 11:13 am
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The NFL draft is quickly approaching and the Patriots have 12 overall picks, including six in the top 101. Given their lack of moves during free agency, the team should be very active. This will be a series broken down by position of players who could be of interest to the team. Today, we look at the safeties. Here’s earlier editions of the series.

Safety is arguably the best overall position on the roster with three tremendous players in Devin McCourty, Patrick Chung and Duron Harmon. But, all three players are getting closer to the end of their careers, which is why the Patriots may consider looking at this position in the draft. Given other needs on the roster it isn't a top priority, but selecting a safety really any where in the draft can be justified.

Here are five players to keep an eye on.

Taylor Rapp, Washington — Rapp is a safety who can play all over, including in the box at times. As a junior this past fall, he totaled 59 tackles, four sacks and two interceptions. He’s expected to be one of the first safeties taken and reportedly formally met with the Patriots at the combine. He plays most of his snaps in the box, which is very similar to Chung.

Chauncey Gardner-Johnson, Florida -- The Florida product has been connected to the Patriots by some in recent weeks just because of his versatility. He isn't just a safety either, as some say he could be a NFL cornerback as well. In 13 games in 2018, he had 71 tackles, three sacks and four interceptions. If the Patriots use one of their first two selections on a safety Gardner-Johnson could be a good selection, but he should be off the board very quickly on Day 2, if not Day 1.

Johnathan Abram, Mississippi State — He is more known for his ability to play in the box and make a lot of plays in defending the run. Abram has had a unique path as he played at Georgia as a freshman, didn’t play in the bowl game for “personal reasons,” went back to junior college, and finally enrolled at Mississippi State in 2017 where he's been the last two seasons. Abram should be a Day 2 pick.

Nasir Adderley, Delaware — Adderley didn’t participate in drills due to a high ankle sprain at the combine, but he stands out to the Patriots for a few reasons, including spending part of his meeting with the media talking about the importance of special teams. He also reportedly had a formal meeting with them there and everyone knows how much the Patriots value special teams.

Lukas Denis, Boston College — This is a nice hometown story, as he’s from Everett, Mass. and then went on to play locally at BC, but is considered a late-round prospect, if drafted at all. Perhaps the team uses one of its last selections on him and sees what happens.

Related: What it's like to trade with Bill Belichick during NFL draft

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