Editor's note: This is the ninth installment in Bleacher Report's CFB 250 for the 2013 season. This signature series runs through December, with National College Football Lead Writer Michael Felder ranking the best players at every position. You can read more about the series in this introductory article. See the CFB 250 page for more rankings.
Given the rise in packaged plays, mobile quarterbacks and quick offensive checks, the safety position has become more important than ever in college football. They are not just pass defenders or run defenders. In fact, teams are not even able to truly play a strong and free safety as they have in the past because offenses shift and flip formations so often.
Thus, these players have to be versatile jacks-of-all-trades who are as comfortable against the run as they are dropping into a deep third or lining up over a tight end to play man coverage. They need to have the range to get off the hash and make a play on the sideline, and they must possess the aggression to come down into the box and fill the alley.
To evaluate our safeties, we took a look at each of them in three aspects: run defense, coverage and tackling. Each of these aspects factors heavily into what they are asked to do and speaks to the versatility expected from the position in the current era of college football. If there were any ties, the edge went to the player we would rather have.
Keep in mind, these safeties are being rated on their performance in college, not NFL potential. But to see where these players may go in the NFL draft (whether they are eligible in 2014 or later), check out Bleacher Report draft expert Matt Miller's projections at the end of each player slide.