Mel Kiper 2013 NFL draft big board: Safeties

Tim Heitman-US PRESSWIRE

We are taking a look at Mel Kiper's top 5 players at every position of need for the Eagles. For the rest of this series, check out our storystream.

Everyone is releasing their mock drafts fast and furious at this point and while that is fun to see, it really only gives you one name at one position usually in just one round for your team. The Eagles, however, have a lot of picks and a lot of holes to fill, so I thought we'd start combing through Mel Kiper's top 5 players at each particular position of need.

First up is safety.

Name School Height Weight
1) Kenny Vaccaro Texas 6-1 218
2) Matt Elam Florida 5-10 206
3) Tony Jefferson Oklahoma 5-10 199
4) Eric Reid LSU 6-2 208
5) Phillip Thomas Fresno State 6-1 215

Vaccaro is the top guy in this class, but could be out of the Eagles reach. He's projected all over the place in early mock drafts anywhere from a mid to late first rounder. If he's a guy the Eagles really like, there's a possibility of jumping up into the late 20s to get him. He's got ideal size, has very good cover instincts and is probably an average run defender.

Matt Elam is a guy that could certainly be there in the 2nd round. Rotoworld did a really nice breakdown of him that's worth checking out.

Jefferson is a sort of all around solid prospect. Here's what ESPN had to say about him.

Displays adequate awareness and diagnostic skills. Does not bite on play fakes and generally maintains strong positioning throughout plays. Does a nice job locating and marking crossers coming into his zone. Can read quarterbacks eyes as well as anticipate routes to get a quick break on the ball. Displays solid instincts when aligned near the box and makes a quick diagnosis in the run game.

Here's Eric Reid's quick scouting report.

Plays under control. Has a FS mentality. Reads his keys and consistently gets an early jump on the ball. Very instinctive in coverage. Impressed by his field awareness. Feels WRs coming through his zone but doesn't panic. Understands importance of leverage. Is disciplined but not slow to react. Takes very few false and does not get caught peeking in backfield.

Phillip Thomas is a somewhat under the radar guy given that he played at Fresno State, but he may be the best safety in this draft. This is from CBS Sports.

Positives: Well proportioned athlete with good straight-line speed, agility and terrific closing speed. Very good anticipatory skills. Recognizes where the play is going and arrives in time to make a play, whether it be against the run or the pass. Reliable ball-skills. Tracks the ball well, showing good leaping ability and soft hands to pluck the ball from the air. Physical hitter. Lowers his shoulder into the ball-carrier to make the forceful hit and wraps securely to assure the tackle. Possesses the light feet and surprisingly fluid hips to drop down and cover receivers out of the slot. Very good open-field running ability, due to his agility, speed and vision to be a threat with the ball in his hands.

Negatives: May not possess top-end timed speed some teams are looking for in a true centerfielder against NFL passing attacks. Trusts his instincts and will occasionally get burned when gambling on play-action or double-moves by receivers. Missed the entire 2011 season with a broken left leg and dislocated left ankle that occurred during a non-contact drill just three days prior to the Bulldogs' first game.

Compares To: Michael Griffin, FS, Tennessee Titans -- Like Griffin, Thomas boasts an impressive combination of size, athleticism and playmaking ability.

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