2020 NFL Draft Preview: Are The Seahawks Set At Safety?

Taking a look at where things stand for the Seahawks at safety heading into the 2020 NFL Draft

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Seahawks safety Quandre Diggs returns an interception upfield for a 44-yard return in the second quarter.

The NFL Draft is set to take place, digitally, beginning on April 23, and as things stand now, the Seahawks are scheduled to pick 27th in the first round, and hold seven picks overall. Starting this week, Seahawks.com is taking a position-by-position look at where things currently stand on the Seahawks' roster, as well as the top prospects at each position. We'll also look at Seattle's draft history at each position under general manager John Schneider and head coach Pete Carroll.

So far we've looked at quarterbackcornerback, and receiver, and today we turn our attention to safety. Check back Monday for a look at where things stand at running back.

Seattle's 2020 Draft Picks: Round 1, No. 27 overall; Round 2, No. 59 overall; Round 2, No. 64 overall; Round 3, No. 101 overall; Round 4, No. 133 overall; Round 4, No. 144 overall; Round 6, No. 214 overall.

Draft History Under Carroll & Schneider: Earl Thomas (No. 14 overall, 2010), Kam Chancellor (No. 133, 2010), Mark LeGree (No. 156, 2011), Winston Guy (No. 181, 2012), Ryan Murphy (No. 248, 2015), Lano Hill (No. 95, 2017), Tedric Thompson (No. 111, 2017), Marquise Blair (No. 47, 2019).

Where The Seahawks Stand

Last season marked something of an end of an era, as 2019 was the Seahawks' first season with neither Kam Chancellor nor Earl Thomas on the roster since that duo was drafted in 2010. But while it's not fair to compare any current players to two franchise legends, the Seahawks will head into 2020 feeling pretty good about their safety group even if they don't add anyone in the draft.

Bradley McDougald has been one of Seattle's best and most consistent defensive players not named Bobby Wagner over the last couple of years, and as an added bonus he is versatile enough to play both safety spots. The midseason addition of free safety Quandre Diggs via trade also provided a big boost to the secondary, with him accounting for four turnovers—three interceptions and a forced fumble that he recovered—in his first four starts before going down with a high ankle sprain, and Diggs should only be more comfortable in 2020 having played half a season in Seattle's defense.

After the season ended, Carroll said the impact of Diggs on the defense was, "pretty obvious. We played cleaner with him. He helped us in a number of ways. I'll continue to tell you that he's helping other guys play well. The confidence that he brings in adds to those guys. I thought Bradley played better when he was playing with Q in the game. When he is in the game with the younger kids, he's got to control quite a bit more as opposed to focusing on his play. I think you can see that help. I don't know if statistically it shows up as much as it felt different when he's playing."

In addition to those Diggs and McDougald, the Seahawks also have Lano Hill, a 2017 draft pick who has started six games over the past two seasons, and Marquise Blair, a hard-hitting safety who showed a lot of potential in limited playing time last season. There's also Ugo Amadi, who practiced at free safety for much of the season, but as things stand now, we're lumping him in with the cornerbacks since he finished the season as Seattle's starting nickel corner. 

Having drafted three safeties—four if you count Amadi—dating back to 2017 while also acquiring Diggs in a trade, the Seahawks won't head into the draft feeling like that position is one of need, but with only four safeties on the roster—five including Amadi—they'll likely want to add more depth prior to camp, whether that is through the draft or undrafted free agency or some other means.

NFL.com's Top 5 Safeties

NFL.com's rankings of the top safety prospects in the 2020 draft.

1. Xavier McKinney, Alabama

Overview (via NFL.com): Ascending safety prospect offering a combination of plus athleticism, field awareness and versatility. McKinney split time equally at slot, free safety and in the box and is accomplished in each. His coverage instincts, athleticism and quick-twitch burst are more cornerback than safety, which is why he's likely to be a coveted toy for teams looking to upgrade and diversify their sub-packages. He can sit in center field all day if needed, and he's an adequate open-field tackler but has room for improvement in that area. McKinney represents the new breed of versatile, matchup safety with high upside as an early starter.

2. Antoine Winfield Jr., Minnesota

Overview (via NFL.com): Winfield isn't as tall or as long as teams like and he's an average athlete, but he's an interchangeable safety who can flat out play. Winfield is stout and strong with above average body control and balance. He can bang on tight ends in coverage and support the run near the box. His angles to the ball are efficient against the run or pass. He's very instinctive and sees plays unfold, but doesn't have ballhawking twitch to challenge a high number of throws. His tackle net isn't as wide in the open field, so he must tackle with excellent fundamentals. Winfield isn't a star but he's a quality building block with the toughness and intelligence to help fortify the back end.

3. Ashtyn Davis, California

Overview (via NFL.com): Late-comer to the game who has rare physical gifts that can't be taught but can be capitalized on. His instincts are just average right now, but he appears to have decent recognition skills. He just needs to trust what he sees. Learning to play under control in coverage and as a tackler will be the difference between being considered a good football player instead of an explosive athlete. The elite traits should get him drafted inside the first two days, but there are some boom/bust elements to his game right now. He should become a future starter at safety, but his size, length and speed could create interest in him as a potential cornerback conversion.

4. Kyle Dugger, Lenoir-Rhyne

Overview (via NFL.com): It's rare to find a safety with elite size, speed, explosiveness and production at a Power 5 school and almost impossible to find one at a Division II school. Dugger crammed the stat sheet full and used those elite traits to dominate the opposition. At times, he seems bored with his level of competition, but his engagement can be instant and urgent when it needs to be. He plays with controlled violence and carries an alpha demeanor on the field. He has soft hands and is rangy, but needs to train his eyes and improve his fundamentals before he's coverage-ready. Dugger is a versatile, scheme-friendly safety who helps immediately on special teams and could develop into a talented NFL starter.

5. Grant Delpit, LSU

Overview (via NFL.com): Aggressive, urgent striker with good upside who posted a disappointing follow-up to an exciting 2018 campaign. His evaluation requires a full load of 2018 tape, where his coverage potential was better illustrated. He transitions with instinctive eyes and plays physically against tight ends. Willingness to rush in and hit has never been a problem in the alley or in his fits, but tackle inconsistencies have plagued him throughout his career due to angles and technique that could be challenging to fix. LSU sources say NFL teams won't be getting the alpha leadership Jamal Adams provided for the Tigers, but Delpit should find a starting role early in his career as a versatile safety with big nickel potential.

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