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2nd year Safeties Ready to Make Some Noise

Football is back! With week one of the preseason underway, football fans everywhere are rejoicing after a long off-season. Let’s take a look at three second year safeties poised to take their game to the next level in year two for your IDP fantasy leagues.

Ronnie Harrison – S – Jacksonville Jaguars

The Jacksonville Jaguars selected their potential future safety with the 93rd overall pick in the third round of the 2018 NFL draft in Alabama’s Ronnie Harrison. Harrison was the tone setter for the Crimson Tide secondary, making his presence felt weekly for the SEC powerhouse. He showed he was the real deal when he got his chance to start as a sophomore, amassing 83 total tackles (1.5 for loss) and two interceptions. He capped off his career at Alabama with a prolific junior season collecting 74 total tackles (4.5 for loss), two and half sacks, and three interceptions. Along with his stellar production, Harrison possesses the size (6’2’’ and 207 pounds) and athleticism scouts covet at the safety position.

He had to wait his turn to get on the field in his rookie season being stuck behind veteran safeties Barry Church and Tashaun Gipson. Harrison saw action in 14 games last year, making eight starts and replacing Church as the starting strong safety during the second half of the year. Harrison finished the season with 32 total tackles (three for loss), one interception, and one sack before being put on injured reserve with a knee injury in week 15.

Enter the 2019 season. Both veterans Gipson and Church are no longer with the team and Harrison is locked in as the starting strong safety. Head coach Doug Marrone has already labeled him one of the defense’s key playmakers after making noise in training camp with his strong play in coverage. Harrison is already known as a physical safety that excels in the box, so with gained experience and improvement in coverage he should be a force in the Jacksonville secondary. I expect Harrison to be a rock solid DB2 and an every week starter in lineups.

Terrell Edmunds – S – Pittsburgh Steelers

Looking for a captain to man their secondary, the Pittsburgh Steelers selected versatile safety Terrell Edmunds out of Virginia Tech with the 28th pick in the first round of the 2018 NFL draft. Edmunds comes from a family of NFL athletes with his brother Tremaine being selected 16th overall in the 2018 draft and father Ferrell also playing in the league for seven seasons. He burst onto the scene as a sophomore, accumulating 101 total tackles (4.5 for loss) and four interceptions. Edmunds junior season was cut short due to a shoulder injury, but he still managed to collect 61 total tackles (2.5 for loss), one and half sacks, and two interceptions.

In his rookie year, the plan was to bring Edmunds along slowly and have him learn from veteran safety Morgan Burnett. Burnett ended up suffering multiple injuries throughout the year, causing the rookie to play 966 defensive snaps, 92% of the team’s defensive total, and make 15 starts. Edmunds had a strong rookie season for the Steelers, learning and adjusting to the professional game, grinding his way to 78 total tackles (1 for loss), one sack, and one interception.

Going into year two, Edmunds has gained valuable experience physically and mentally from his rookie season. Edmunds entered camp in superior physical shape with his body fat at an astounding 2.1% after working extremely hard this offseason. He has been regularly impressing in training camp with his conditioning, strong play, and knowledge gained from his rookie season. An extremely athletic and versatile athlete, Edmunds is looking to make a big jump in year two and get the Pittsburgh defense back to the level that it is known for. Edmunds is a solid DB2 and possesses weekly breakout DB1 potential with his versatility to play deep and in the box.

Jordan Whitehead – S – Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Jordan Whitehead busted onto the scene with 110 total tackles (7 for loss) as a freshman at the University of Pittsburgh. His spectacular freshman season helped him earn a consensus nomination on the freshman All-American team. Whitehead’s production slipped a bit as a sophomore, collecting 65 total tackles and missing the final three games of the season with a broken arm. His junior year started off on the wrong foot as he missed the first three games due to a suspension for violating team rules. Yet he was still able to amass 60 total tackles and earn honorable mention on the All-ACC team. The Tampa Bay Buccaneers selected the versatile Pittsburgh safety with the 117th overall pick in the fourth round of the 2018 NFL draft.

Whitehead saw the field the plenty as a rookie, playing 660 snaps which amounted to 63% of the team’s defensive total. He appeared in 15 games and started in 11 of them becoming a regular in the Buccaneers secondary. Whitehead made his presence felt with his plentiful rookie snaps, collecting 76 total tackles (4 for loss). He also made noticeable strides in pass coverage as he adjusted to playing free safety in the NFL.

Now moving into year two, Whitehead is looking to build off of his solid rookie season. On the team’s first depth chart he’s penciled in as the starting free safety, but faces some competition from veteran Kentrell Brice. Known as a versatile safety that can play in coverage who is willing to come up in the box to mix it up, I expect Whitehead to keep his starting job and not look back. Although free safety isn’t the most productive IDP spot for DBs, Whitehead moves around the field and should produce solid tackle numbers in year two. Whitehead should be viewed as a solid DB3 and should be very usable on a weekly basis.

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