August 5, 2021

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2021 NFL draft; The top 11 safeties in the 2021…

3 min read
2021 NFL draft; The top 11 safeties in the 2021...

(AP Photo/Rusty Costanza)

Height: 6’3″ (98th) Weight: 215 (87th)
Arm Length: 34 1/2 inches (100th)
40-Yard Dash: N/A
Bench Press: 17 reps (60th)
Vertical Jump: 32 inches (9th)
Broad Jump: N/A
3-Cone Drill: 7.05 seconds (36th)
20-Yard Shuttle: 4.31 seconds

Bio: A four-star safety prospect out of Concord High School IN North Carolina, Nasirildeen chose the Seminoles over Alabama, South Carolina, and just about every other big school in the country. He had two starts in 2017 as a true freshman with 22 solo tackles, and then became Florida State’s Most Improved Player in 2018 with 51 solo tackles, an interception, and two pass deflections. A torn ACL cost Nasirildeen an appearance in the Sun Bowl at the end of the 2019 season, and seven games in 2020. Still, in 2019. he had 61 solo tackles, two tackles for loss, a sack, two interceptions for 80 return yards and a touchdown, three passes defensed, and two forced fumbles. In two 2020 games (against North Carolina State and Duke), he totaled five solo tackles, 1.5 tackles for loss, an interception, and a pass defensed.

In four seasons with the Seminoles, Nasirildeen had 629 snaps at free safety, 598 in the box, 313 in the slot, 81 along the defensive line, and 17 at outside cornerback. He allowed 56 catches on 81 targets for 718 yards, 300 yards after the catch, five touchdowns, four interceptions, and an opponent passer rating of 96.6.

Stat to Know: In 2019, Nasirildeen’s last full season, he gave up 15 catches on 24 targets for 205 yards, 121 yards after the catch, one touchdown, two interceptions, and an opponent passer rating of 68.9. He also had one sack and 10 total pressures.

Strengths: Moves better than you’d expect from a defensive back his size; Nasirildeen can get from sideline to sideline to make plays and had an acrobatic sideline pick of Trevor Lawrence in 2019.

Downhill enforcer who forced three fumbles with aggression and technique in his junior season. Ballcarriers tend to stay hit when he hits them. Transitions well in coverage from the deep third and linebacker level to his assignment. Outstanding blitz potential — this could really become a feature point for him at the next level. Has no problem dealing with bigger receivers and athletic tight ends from the line through the route.

Weaknesses: Nasirildeen can get himself out of position both as a run-stopper and as a coverage defender, leading to big defensive busts on both counts. Still working on pre-snap diagnosis. Nasirildeen doesn’t have the quickest recovery speed, which means his ability to see what’s in front of him will have to improve. Could stand to be more disciplined as a tackler.

Conclusion: Nasirildeen will be an interesting evaluation for NFL teams. As is the case with Virginia Tech’s Divine Deablo (the next safety on our list), Nasirildeen could be seen as a smaller movement linebacker, a bigger strong safety, or a developmental combination of the two with intruiging athletic potential. I wouldn’t make him a slot defender against the Davante Adamses of the world, and I’d probably limit his deep-third snaps, but if I was looking for an intermediate enforcer with blitz potential, this might be my first stop.

NFL Comparison: During his pro day media availability, I asked Nasirildeen about his thoughts regarding the play style of former Seahawks safety/enforcer Kam Chancellor.

“Growing up, I loved to watch those physical safeties play,” Nasirildeen responded. “Kam Chancellor was my favorite player growing up. Just watching the physicality he brought to the game. They’d have pullers come around and he’d be smacking O-linemen like they were receivers. So, I used to just love watching him play the game.”

Since my nickname for Nasirildeen is “Ham Chancellor,” you can guess what the obvious comp is. Chancellor was a linebacker/safety hybrid out of Virginia Tech when the Seahawks selected him in the fifth round of the 2010 draft, and Chancellor eventually became the shot-caller of one of the best defenses in NFL history, as well as a dominant middle-of-the-field enforcer. Nasirildeen isn’t too far off from a potential standpoint.

The top 11 safeties in the 2021 draft class