Being considered a “safe” NFL draft selection seems to carry a negative connotation, but it shouldn’t.
A prospect described as safe is typically a player who had impressive production throughout his collegiate career but is not considered to have exceptional physical tools or untapped potential.
By definition, however, the safest prospects are the ones who are the most likely to succeed to some degree, regardless of whether or not they have the most potential to excel.
In an era where even one bad season can cost an NFL coach or general manager his job, safe prospects should be considered even more valuable, as early-round draft busts can quickly derail a team’s chances at contention.
The debate between safer picks versus higher potential could come into play as early as the first two picks in the 2014 NFL draft. Will teams at the top of the board opt for safer bets in Louisville quarterback Teddy Bridgewater and Texas A&M offensive tackle Jake Matthews, or will UCF signal-caller Blake Bortles and Auburn offensive tackle Greg Robinson be projected as better NFL players because of their physical tools?
The following eight players aren’t all projected as early first-round selections, but all of them are among the draft’s surest bets to find next-level success.