The 2021 NFLPA Collegiate Bowl Big Board is being rolled out by position, featuring players to watch. Today, we continue with safeties:
*NOTE: We at the NFLPA Collegiate Bowl are disappointed for those players whose senior seasons have been disrupted by the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. In respect for those who may still play in 2021, we have altered our preseason Big Board to reflect only those seniors whose schools are actively preparing to play a fall season.
THREE TO WATCH
James Wiggins, S, Cincinnati: After a breakout 2018 season where he recorded 54 tackles and four interceptions and just two days prior to last year’s opener, James Wiggins suffered a devastating season-ending knee injury. In Coach Fickell’s quarters-style defense, Wiggins’ advantageous speed and man-to-man cover ability were regularly on display in 2018 while typically playing over the slot to the field. With smooth pedal ability and short burst turning to run in zone, the Miami native can be utilized in a variety of defensive roles. Though his urgency could be more consistent coming up in run support, Wiggins put on tape good form tackling technique while breaking down prior to delivering pop and wrapping up ball carriers.
JaCoby Stevens, SS, LSU:
At 6-1 and 228 pounds, JaCoby Stevens is one of the most versatile defensive players in the country. For the national champion Tigers last season, the former wide receiver could be seen aligning at safety, outside linebacker, nickel, out wide at corner, defensive end and even defensive tackle for some creative plays. And despite being limited by a shoulder injury last season, Stevens was very productive while recording 85 tackles, 8.5 tackles for loss, 5.0 sacks and three interceptions. With linebacker size, fluid movement skills and burst to close quickly on the ball, the Tennessee native will be a 2.5-year starter for LSU with skill sets that easily translate to the NFL.
Divine Deablo, FS, Virginia Tech:
Standing at 6-2 and 223 pounds, it’s difficult to miss Divine Deablo. With rare size and length for a safety, the three-year starter is an impactful centerfielder for the Hokie defense, oftentimes found roaming deep in the secondary where his ranginess helps get him in position to make plays on the ball. With the wingspan and speed to match up with tight ends, the Winston-Salem, North Carolina native has been productive in the passing game while picking up nine career passes defensed, including two interceptions. One particularly impressive aspect of Deablo’s game is his desire to get to the football and – when he lines up the ball carrier right – he can deliver a knock-back blow.
2021 NFLPA COLLEGIATE BOWL BIG BOARD: SAFETIES