Skip to main content
Presented by

2024 Draft Preview: Do The Seahawks Add More Competition At Safety?

A look at where the Seahawks stand at safety heading into the 2024 NFL Draft, as well as draft analyst Rob Rang’s top-ranked prospects at that position.

2024 Draft Preview - Safeties

The NFL Draft kicks off next week in Detroit, and while it will be the 15th in Seattle for general manager and president of football operations John Schneider, it will be his first with new head coach Mike Macdonald.

But while there are some adjustments to be made for Schneider and the player personnel department in terms of learning what Macdonald and his coaching staff look for in players, Schneider doesn't see this draft process playing out a whole lot differently than the previous 14 did with Pete Carroll as the head coach.

"There's so much preparation that goes into it, it's going to be the same," Schneider said last month at the NFL Annual Meeting. "The preparation is—really, think of it like a game; you're putting together a game-plan sheet. That's basically what your board looks like. So you're like, 'OK, well that happened, now we're going here. That happened. Now we're going here.' So that's really your preparation, and I don't see it being any different.

"Pete, he was a blast to work with throughout the preparation, and Mike and his staff are the same. It's going to be fun."

Unlike the past two drafts in which Seattle had multiple first and second-round picks thanks to the Russell Wilson trade, the Seahawks have a little less draft capital in 2024, though the 16thoverall pick is still a valuable asset, either to be used on an elite player or perhaps to be traded for a pick later in the first round along with additional picks. The Seahawks have seven total picks heading into the draft, but do not have a second-rounder having sent that to the Giants in last year's trade for Leonard Williams.

So with the draft coming up soon, is taking a position-by-position look at where things currently stand for the Seahawks, as well as the top draft prospects at each position. We'll also look at Seattle's draft history at each position over the past 14 drafts under Schneider.

So far we've covered quarterback, linebacker, offensive line, defensive line, outside linebacker, and running back, and today we turn our attention to safety. Check back tomorrow when we focus on receiver.

Seattle's 2024 Draft Picks: Round 1, No. 16 overall; Round 3, No. 81 overall (from New Orleans via Denver); Round 4, No. 102 overall (from Washington); Round 4, No. 118 overall; Round 6, No. 179 overall (from Washington); Round 6, No. 192 overall; Round 7, No. 235 overall.

Safety Draft History Under John 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), Ugo Amadi (No. 132, 2019), Jerrick Reed II (No. 198, 2023).

Where the Seahawks Stand

After releasing Jamal Adams and Quandre Diggs in salary cap-related moves, the Seahawks had a pretty clear need at safety despite the presence of 2023 Pro-Bowl selection Julian Love. Seattle addressed that need in free agency, however, signing Rayshawn Jenkins, who has started 79 games over the past five seasons, including all 34 the past two with the Jaguars, as well as K'Von Wallace, who started 12 games last season.

"I like that they're really tough football players," Macdonald said of Seattle’s two new safeties last month at the NFL Annual Meeting. "You turn the tape on and these guys play the right way. Talking to them and people that have coached them think they're really smart, so I think they'll be able to handle all the stuff we're going to ask them to do and spit all the calls out. It comes down to position flexibility so you're not just putting guys pigeonholed into roles. We'll see what they do best at, how they complement one another, see how they work together. But I think it gives us some flexibility to possibly be in some three safety sets based on how it shakes out at nickel, then we'll kind of go from there. Both guys can play man to man, they can play deep area of the field. Rayshawn played deeper more than you'd expect last year. Rayshawn has even moved down into the box in the second level, too. I think we have a lot of different skill sets we're bringing to the table up the middle. Combined with our corner situation I think we're in a good spot."

Yet even with those two added to the mix, the Seahawks could look to add to that position group to add some young depth and competition to the group, especially given the likelihood that Macdonald's defense will use plenty of three-safety looks, as was the case in Baltimore. The Seahawks also have Coby Bryant, who started playing safety last season after being Seattle's nickel corner as a rookie, as well as second-year safeties Jerrick Reed II, Jonathan Sutherland and Ty Okada, so they're not heading into the draft needing to add to that group. That being said, if the right player is available, it could still make a lot of sense to continue adding to that group, especially with Love, Jenkins and Wallace all on short-term contracts.

Rob Rang's Top 5 Safeties

Overview: Even with the signing of free agents Rayshawn Jenkins and K'Von Wallace, the Seahawks may be on the lookout for more help at safety, following the offseason release of past Pro Bowlers Quandre Diggs and Jamal Adams. Like most years, the 2024 draft has a number of projected safeties – players who starred at cornerback at the college level, but who some believe are best suited to the inside in the NFL – that could intrigue the Seahawks, including Iowa's Cooper DeJean, a do-everything playmaker who may be the only 200-plus pound defensive back selected in the first round of the 2024 NFL draft. Like Pete Carroll before him, Mike Macdonald preferred physical tacklers and ballhawks at the safety position and there are several of them in this class, including some intriguing in-state talent. In fact, of the players not listed below, Washington's toolsy Dom Hampton is among my favorite fits for the Seahawks, as are Georgia's Javon Bullard, Miami's Kamren Kinchens and Wake Forest's Malik Mustapha. Finally, given their success with former Army linebacker Jon Rhattigan, Seattle could once again turn to the service academies with Trey Turner from the Air Force, a surprising Combine snub despite winning the Thorpe Award this season as the nation's top defensive back.

1. Cooper DeJean, Iowa, 6-1, 203, First Round

DeJean played outside corner throughout most of his time at Iowa and I believe he's plenty athletic enough to remain there. However, I like him best at safety because of his excellent route-recognition, ball-skills and sure open-field tackling skills. There are elements of his play that remind me of Minkah Fitzpatrick at Alabama, who also lined up virtually everywhere at the college level but has since become an All-Pro free safety for the Pittsburgh Steelers. A natural ballhawk who is dangerous with the ball in his hands, DeJean returned three of his seven career interceptions back for touchdowns with another coming off a punt return.

2. Tyler Nubin, Minnesota, 6-1, 205, Second Round

Of course, if ball skills are the priority, Nubin's 13 career interceptions certainly will have Schneider and Macdonald's attention. Nubin didn't return any of these picks for a touchdown but that is one of the few criticisms of an otherwise very clean prospect, a three-time All-Big selection who combines prototypical size, awareness and open-field tackling skills to rank as one of the safest all-around prospects in the 2024 draft.

3. Cole Bishop, Utah, 6-2, 206, Second Round

It wasn't too long ago that NFL teams could get away with free and strong safeties that played very different roles. Today's NFL, however, often requires more interchangeability, an area that the ultra-versatile Bishop excels. He lined up all over the Utah secondary, even dropping down to play linebacker, at times, while filling up the stat sheet with 197 tackles, including 21.5 for loss, 7.5 sacks and three interceptions over his career. Clocking in the 4.4s at the Combine quieted the critics who pigeonholed Bishop as "just" a box safety.

4. Jaden Hicks, Washington State, 6-2, 211, Second-Third Round

Another PAC-12 safety perhaps being unfairly typecasted throughout the pre-draft process is Hicks, a talented redshirt sophomore likely to be the first Cougar drafted this spring. Like the aforementioned Bishop, Hicks was moved all over the field by WSU and he delivered enough bone-jarring hits among his 155 tackles the past two seasons to certainly handle playing near the line of scrimmage. He's savvier and smoother in coverage than his size and relative youth would suggest, collecting 10 pass breakups and three interceptions over the past two seasons and showing impressive agility at the Combine and his Pro Day workout, as well.

5. Dadrion Taylor-Demerson, Texas Tech, 5-10, 197, Third Round

While scouting this year's top NFL prospects I didn't come across enough of them who immediately reminded me of former Seattle players to justify writing a 2024 version of Seahawks doppelgangers' article. ( One candidate for that article, however, could have been Taylor-Demerson, who possesses the size, athleticism, awareness and soft hands that remind me of a young Quandre Diggs, who collected 220 tackles, including 14 for loss and 5.5 sacks. Diggs broke up 29 total passes with 11 total interceptions at Texas and measured in at 5-09 and 196 pounds at the 2015 Combine. Playing about a six-hour drive northwest in Lubbock, Taylor-Demerson, a team captain, collected 224 stops, including 8.5 for loss, two sacks and 10 interceptions with 33 passes defensed overall.

NFL Draft analyst Rob Rang ranked his top safeties for the 2024 NFL Draft.

Related Content