One of the bigger decisions the Detroit Lions have to make this offseason is determining if Quandre Diggs makes the permanent switch over to safety from nickel cornerback.
Diggs made the move late last year after starting strong safety Tavon Wilson was injured, and Diggs did well in the role. He was a natural fit and an instant playmaker.
That decision will obviously alter the team’s needs at the position, given Wilson is an unrestricted free agent.
Safety Miles Killebrew is also in the mix for playing time, giving Detroit options alongside Glover Quin.
Where the Lions have Diggs playing in 2018, how they see Killebrew fitting into the mix, and whether or not they re-sign Wilson will all play a factor in Detroit’s need at the position.
Whether the need is a priority or not, Lions general manager Bob Quinn and his staff will still evaluate every safety prospect and add them to their big board accordingly.
Here’s a look at some of the top talent at the position:
Ht/Wt: 6-1, 201
View photos of the prospects participating in the 2018 NFL Scouting Combine.
Best trait: Swiss Army Knife. There are few prospects that grade out well at both safety and cornerback. That’s how good Fitzpatrick is. He started 10 games as a true freshman on Alabama’s defense. That’s unheard of. He can step in Day 1 and play a number of different roles in a creative defense.
Concern: Not a pure cover man, probably more of an inside cornerback than outside if teams want to play him at corner.
Skinny: Fitzpatrick is rangy and athletic, and can step in and be a do-it-all safety, nickel cornerback or linebacker in sub packages. He has a wide-ranging skillset that will be attractive to a lot of teams.
School: Florida State
Ht/Wt: 6-3, 215
Best trait: Size and production. This big, strong safety recorded 84 tackles, 5.5 for loss, two interceptions and 11 defended passes this past season. He's just as comfortable over the deep middle as he is in the box playing the run. He can do it all when it comes to the safety position.
Concern: An ACL injury is in his past, so the medicals will all have to check out at the Combine.
Skinny: James was asked to play a number of roles at Florida State, and handled them all at an All-American level. The crazy thing with him is he still has a lot of room to grow.
Ht/Wt: 6-3, 214
Best trait: Fluid athlete. Harrison checks off all the boxes from a size, speed and skillset perspective for NFL teams. He tied for the Alabama lead with 74 tackles this past season. His athletic ability will allow him to smoothly transition into any defensive scheme.
Concern: Some analysts think he needs to clean up his tackling technique and become a better form tackler with an emphasis on wrapping up.
Skinny: He can cover, and isn’t afraid to stick his nose into run support in the box. He’s got the size, speed and necessary skillset, especially as a cover safety, to step right in and help a defense.
School: West Virginia
Ht/Wt: 6-2, 216
Best trait: Versatility. White played a hybrid safety/linebacker position at West Virginia that resulted in him racking up 94 tackles, 7.5 tackles for loss, a sack, three interceptions and two forced fumbles this past season. With sub packages being so popular in today’s NFL, he's tailor made for the role.
Concern: Long speed. His 40 times will be important in determining if he can play the deep safety role, or if he’s more of a hybrid defender.
Skinny: White comes from a good football pedigree, and isn’t afraid to mix it up. He’s a physical tackler that makes his presence known. He likely would start out covering tight ends and running backs, and then see where his role goes from there.
Ht/Wt: 6-1, 204
Best trait: Production. The younger brother of 49ers safety Eric Reid, Justin Reid comes from good stock. He was a second team All-American this season after recording 94 tackles (6.5 for loss), five interceptions and six pass breakups.
Concern: He doesn’t have the size or length of some of the other elite prospects, which limits his overall versatility, and might hurt his stock some.
Skinny: His combination of range, ball skills and production make for an overall solid safety prospect in the second day of the draft.