2022 NFL Draft Cheat Sheet: Safeties

Jaquan Brisker, Penn State

I seem to be saying this a lot, but it really rings true here: Jaquan Brisker is exactly what the modern NFL is looking for in a safety. Brisker has great size at 6’1, electric levels of athleticism, and really honed his instincts in college. Brisker is versatile, and is the archetypal “chess piece” at safety. He’s big enough to put in the box and stop the run, especially with his ability to change directions so quickly and effortlessly. And yet, something just isn’t clicking for me, and I don’t understand it.

I’m going to try to work this out as I go. Brisker, despite his instincts, feels like he gets lost sometimes. He often gets fooled by the quarterback’s eyes, and pro quarterbacks will prey on that early and often. If he lets his eyes get the better of his instincts in the NFL, there’s going to be blown coverages galore. The best way I can describe the problem I have with Brisker is that, while I think he understands it, he doesn’t get it. At least not yet.

Comparison: As long as Brisker keeps developing his instincts, he’s a bit like Justin Reid in how versatile he is.

Jalen Pitre, Baylor

Baylor’s Jalen Pitre has everything you can’t teach, except for maybe speed. He’s been described as a “coach’s dream,” he has all the intangibles, teammates gravitate to him, and he’s going to be a locker room glue guy wherever he goes. He might not be the fastest guy around, but his fantastic work with his eyes help him to be smarter than everybody else to make up for the lack of speed. He takes all the right angles in run support, and you can see the inner workings of his brain even before a play starts sometimes.

The biggest problem I have with Pitre is that he feels like when the driver in front of you won’t hit the gas when the light turns green. I feel like I’m trying to push him forward when I watch his tape. His hips are notoriously stiff and again, he’s not super fast. I hope that Pitre never gets caught trying to cover an NFL receiver in the open field, because he simply won’t be able to do it. I’m not sure he has the strength to bring down a tight end either. I think he can still be a good player in run support, but he doesn’t have that next-level versatility that I’ve been talking about this whole time.

Comparison: Pitre’s a (really) poor man’s Budda Baker. Not a huge fan of him if I’m being honest, but I can see that run-stopping potential poking through.

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