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The Post’s Ryan Dunleavy gives his top 10 safeties in this year’s NFL draft, based on evaluations and conversations with people around the league:

1. Kyle Hamilton, Notre Dame, 6-4, 220 pounds

If you believe in “generational” prospects, Hamilton is one. Could be first safety drafted in top four picks since 1991. Height, length and range combination feels like he covers whole field. Slow 40-yard dash (4.56 seconds) is only knock.

2. Daxton Hill, Michigan, 6-0, 192 pounds

Can cover in the slot or patrol center field. If he’s in the slot, watch out for the blitz. If he’s deep, watch the closing speed with the jarring hit to knock the ball loose.

3. Lewis Cine, Georgia, 6-2, 200 pounds

Downhill safety who packs better-than-expected punch at his size and can be an eighth defender in the box. Played in all 39 games in last three seasons. Could get exposed by receiving tight ends.

4. Jalen Pitre, Baylor, 5-11, 196 pounds

Linebacker Jalen Pitre #8 of the Baylor Bears signals for a safety
Baylor’s Jalen Pitre
Getty Images

Former starting linebacker who became a big slot back. Nose for the ball seen in three sacks, three fumble recoveries, three forced fumbles and two interceptions last season. Played all special teams units as a senior.

5. Bryan Cook, Cincinnati, 6-1, 210 pounds

Took long road filled with hard work after transferring from Howard, sitting out a season and shifting from cornerback. Surefire tackler who leads with his shoulder, which, not coincidentally, needed offseason surgery.

6. Jaquan Brisker, Penn State, 6-1, 200 pounds

Former No. 1-ranked JUCO recruit nearly entered 2021 draft but benefited greatly from a return to school. Two-year starter in Big Ten who will shed blocks but is limited, because of coverage deficiencies, to strong safety.

7. Nick Cross, Maryland, 6-0, 215 pounds

Cross giveth, Cross taketh away. Plays an aggressive style that helps create takeaways but is susceptible to letting the ball get behind him. Always looking for a big hit, sometimes forgetting to wrap.

Maryland Terrapins defensive back Nick Cross (3) brings down Penn State Nittany Lions wide receiver
Maryland’s Nick Cross
Getty Images

8. Verone McKinley III, Oregon, 5-10, 196 pounds

Knows how to read a quarterback’s eyes: Led Pac-12 in interceptions twice, including last season (six) as tops in FBS. Will become a young leader as long as his play earns teammates’ respect.

9. JT Woods, Baylor, 6-2, 188 pounds

Good instincts produced nine interceptions (and 22.3 yards per return) over the past two seasons (plus another in the Senior Bowl). Not many safeties run a 4.36-second 40-yard dash, so no problem with hybrid tight ends.

10. Kerby Joseph, Illinois, 6-1, 200 pounds

Couldn’t crack the defensive lineup for two years before trying receiver and then having five interceptions as a single-high safety in 2021. Wealth of special teams experience, including as a punt gunner.

Late Riser

Hill: Looked like a one-safety first round until the pre-draft process. More and more teams are using nickel personnel as base defense and Hill covers like a cornerback. Could sneak into top 20 picks.

Falling Fast

Smoke Monday, Auburn, 6-2, 199 pounds: Great name that fits a high-intensity player who flies around the field. Can’t hide some of the inconsistencies he showed as a two-year starter. What’s his best NFL position? No one knows.

Small-School Wonder

Percy Butler, Louisiana-Lafayette 6-0, 192 pounds: Covers a lot of ground with his track speed. No wonder he is a core special teamer, including a punt gunner. Rarely out of position but sometimes absorbs more of the hit than he delivers.

Source: NYPOST

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