Draft safety breakdown: Rapp leads ball-hawking group
The NFL Draft is Thursday-Saturday in Nashville, Tenn. Each day leading up to the first round, the Tribune-Review is compiling a positional preview of the top draft prospects.
1. Taylor Rapp
Washington, 6-0, 208
A three-year starter, Rapp declared for the draft after his junior year at Washington. He was a two-time all-conference cornerback after being named the Pac-12 freshman defensive player of the year in his first season on campus. He had seven career interceptions, including two as a junior when he also had five passes defensed and three fumble recoveries. The Pittsburgh Steelers met with Rapp at Washington’s pro day.
2. Nasir Adderly
Delaware, 6-0, 206
Adderly was a four-year starter at Delaware and a second-team FCS All-American as a senior after he led his team with four interceptions and seven passes defensed. He also made 87 tackles in 12 starts while doubling as an occasional kickoff returner. As a junior, he had a team-high five interceptions.
3. Johnathan Abram
Mississippi State, 5-11, 205
Abram started four games as a freshman at Georgia before his odyssey began. He enrolled at Jones County Junior College in 2016 and was rated the top JUCO safety recruit. He found a home at Mississippi State for his final two seasons. In 2018, he led the Bulldogs with 99 tackles (nine for loss), three sacks, two interceptions, five passes defensed and a forced fumble.
4. Chauncey Gardner-Johnson
Florida, 5-11, 210
After making three starts as a freshman, Gardner-Johnson moved into the starting lineup for his final two years at Florida before entering the draft pool. As a junior, he started 11 of 13 games and had 71 tackles (nine for loss), three sacks, four interceptions and two passes defensed. He also had two interceptions and seven passes defensed as a sophomore. He finished his freshman year by being named MVP of the Outback Bowl after intercepting two passes.
5. Deionte Thompson
Alabama, 6-1, 195
Thompson was named a first-team All-American as a redshirt junior at Alabama before declaring for the draft. He started 15 games last season and totaled 79 tackles (31/2 for loss), two interceptions, six passes defensed and four forced fumbles. He had only two starts as a sophomore, but he also contributed on special teams.
6. Juan Thornhill
Virginia, 6-0, 205
At the NFL Combine, Thornhill ran a 4.42 40-yard dash and had a 44-inch vertical jump. He also impressed on the field as a three-year starter and four-year contributor at Virginia. He was named first-team all-conference as a senior when he accumulated 98 tackles and six interceptions. He broke up seven other passes.
7. Darnell Savage
Maryland, 5-11, 198
Savage was one of three safeties, and the highest rated of the bunch, to visit the Steelers at UPMC Rooney Sports Complex during the predraft process. He contributed as a freshman for the Terrapins and then started his final three seasons. As a senior, he had four interceptions and two passes defensed while chipping in with 52 tackles (51/2 for loss). Savage ran the 40-yard dash in 4.36 seconds at the NFL Combine.
8. Amani Hooker
Iowa, 5-11, 210
Hooker, who declared for the draft with one season of eligibility remaining, was used as a hybrid safety/linebacker as a junior at Iowa, a position created for him by coaches. He was named the Big Ten defensive back of the year after accumulating 65 tackles (31/2 for loss), four interceptions and seven passes defensed. He started six games as a sophomore and played in all 13 as a freshman.
9. Jaquan Johnson
Miami, 5-10, 191
Johnson led the Hurricanes in tackles in his junior and senior seasons. He had 96 as a junior when he also tied for the team lead with four interceptions. The next year, he had 92 tackles while intercepting two passes and forcing a pair of fumbles. He also contributed as a freshman and sophomore for the Hurricanes.
10. Marquise Blair
Utah, 6-1, 195
A first-team JUCO All-American at Dodge City Community College, Blair joined Utah for his final two seasons. He started six games as a junior and had 48 tackles. As a senior, he started all 14 games and had 59 tackles (two for loss), two interceptions, four passes defensed and a forced fumble.
West Virginia, 6-0, 202
The Aliquippa product started 51 games in four seasons, the most in West Virginia history. His resume included 215 tackles, including 162 solo. He had 91/2 tackles for a loss, six interceptions and 10 passes defensed in his career. Henry was not invited to the NFL Combine, but the Steelers brought him to UPMC Rooney Sports Complex for an unofficial visit.
Best fit for Steelers
In 2016, the Steelers selected Maryland safety Sean Davis in the second round. Although the Steelers used a first-round pick on Virginia Tech safety Terrell Edmunds last year, they could address the position again. Davis will become an unrestricted free agent in 2020 unless the Steelers re-sign him this summer. They could be searching for a backup plan in this draft, and Savage projects as a second-day pick.
Joe Rutter is a Tribune-Review staff writer. You can contact Joe by email at [email protected] or via Twitter .