NFL Draft 2013: Projected Destinations for Top Safeties in Draft

Jesse ReedCorrespondent IApril 4, 2013

AUSTIN, TX - OCTOBER 15:  Safety Kenny Vaccaro #4 of the Texas Longhorns attempts a first quarter tackle of running back Joseph Randall #1 of the Oklahoma State Cowboys on October 15, 2011 at Darrell K. Royal-Texas Memorial Stadium in Austin, Texas.  Oklahoma State beat Texas 38-26.  (Photo by Erich Schlegel/Getty Images)
Erich Schlegel/Getty Images

Kenny Vaccaro would be an ideal player for the Dallas Cowboys in the 2013 NFL draft, but he might be selected before Jerry Jones' No. 18 overall pick. 

Vaccaro is one of the draft's top safeties, along with Matt Elam and Jonathan Cyprien. All three players are likely to be selected in the first round of this year's draft, and all three are ready to step into a starting lineup and make an immediate and positive impact for their new teams.

There are a handful of teams in need of safety help, so let's take a look at which teams are most likely to draft one of these top safeties in Round 1. 


Kenny Vaccaro, Texas

In today's NFL, traditional in-the-box safeties aren't as valuable as they once were. Safeties nowadays need to be able to do it all, and the best are capable of playing either position. 

Vaccaro fits that description. 

At 6'0" and 214 pounds, he has the size, athleticism, speed and skill to line up all over the field. Many times over the course of his career at Texas, Vaccaro covered slot receivers one-on-one without any help, but he also showed prowess in zone coverage. 

Though he wasn't asked to rush the passer often, Vaccaro did register two sacks and is quite capable of providing pressure off the edge on zone blitzes. 

He's a player that can turn the fortunes of a mediocre secondary, and it won't be a shock to see him drafted in the top 15 picks. 


Projected Destinations

  • San Diego Chargers (No. 11): The top three offensive tackles (Luke Joeckel, Eric Fisher and Lane Johnson) could already be off the board when Tom Telesco makes his first pick as the new general manager of the Chargers. Should this happen, Telesco would be wise to add Vaccaro to his roster to play opposite Eric Weddle. 
  • St. Louis Rams (No. 16): The Rams don't have a starting-caliber safety on the roster at this time, and there's no doubt this team will be looking to the draft to remedy the situation. 
  • Dallas Cowboys (No. 18): Dallas has two excellent cornerbacks in Brandon Carr and Morris Claiborne, but the team desperately needs a safety.


Jonathan Cyprien, Florida International

Cyprien wasn't as well known around the country as Vaccaro or Elam heading into the Senior Bowl and combine, but this young man has the chops to become an elite safety in the NFL.

Roughly the same size as Vaccaro, at 6'0" and 217 pounds, Cyprien provides more boom. He plays like an in-the-box safety near the line of scrimmage, but he's capable of covering a lot of ground in coverage, as well. 

A four-year starter at Florida International, Cyprien was highly productive in all phases of the game. He logged 365 career tackles, 13.5 tackles for a loss, one sack, six interceptions (one which he returned for a touchdown), 28 passes defended and six forced fumbles.

He's a playmaker and will be in high demand in the second half of Round 1.


Projected Destinations

  • Dallas Cowboys (No. 18): If Vaccaro is already gone, Dallas could pull the trigger on Cyprien. That said, if Chance Warmack or Jonathan Cooper are still available, the Cowboys might draft one of these top guards.
  • Cincinnati Bengals (No. 21): The Bengals never found a comfort zone with the safeties on the roster last year. Reggie Nelson is a good player, but he can't cover the back end all by himself. 


Matt Elam, Florida

Whenever you hear folks talking about Elam, it's the same story: He's undersized. 

Never mind that Elam is a big play waiting to happen. 

Never mind that he thrived in the SEC—the closest thing in the college ranks to the NFL. 

Sure, Elam is only 5'10", but lack of size never stopped Bob Sanders from becoming an All-Pro safety. 

Elam can play. 

In his three years at Florida, he tallied 176 tackles, 23.5 tackles for a loss, five sacks, six interceptions and three forced fumbles. 


Projected Destinations

  • Green Bay Packers (No. 26): The Packers released Charles Woodson this winter. M.D. Jennings, Charlie Peprah and Jerron McMillian struggled last year, and Green Bay could be looking to upgrade.
  • San Francisco 49ers (No. 31): The 49ers let Dashon Goldson leave via free agency, leaving a gaping void in the team's secondary. Elam would be able to fill that void.


Follow me on Twitter @JesseReed78