The 49ers drafted Eric Reid to replace Dashon Goldson at free safety, but Reid’s best position may turn out to be strong safety. The 49ers’ current strong safety, Donte Whitner, will be a free agent next offseason. If the 49ers choose to move Reid to strong safety in 2014, they might draft a free safety early in the draft next year.
With that in mind, here are the top five free safety prospects in the college football.
1. Ha Ha Clinton-Dix, 6-1, 208, Jr., Alabama. The No.1 safety prospect coming out of high school in 2010 and the No.7 prospect overall according to Rivals.com. Clinton-Dix started nine games in 2012 as a sophomore, made 30 tackles (19 solo) and 4 interceptions. He runs a 4.3 40-yard dash, according to ESPN.
2. Lamarcus Joyner, 5-8, 195, Sr., Florida State. The No.1 safety prospect coming out of high school in 2009 and the No.14 prospect overall. He runs a 4.34 40-yard dash and jumps a 36.5-inch vertical leap according to Scout.com. Joyner has been Florida State’s starting free safety the past two seasons, and over that span he’s made 105 tackles, 5 interceptions and defended 8 passes. Joyner reportedly will play cornerback this coming season. He’s a similar prospect to the Seahawks’ free safety, Earl Thomas.
3. Ty Zimmerman, 6-1, 204, Sr., Kansas State. A two-star recruit coming out of high school, the only schools that recruited Zimmerman were Northern Illinois, Northern Iowa and Kansas State. Zimmerman chose Kansas State, and in 2012 he was a third-team All American. Zimmerman has been a full-time starter since his freshman year, and over those three seasons he’s made 182 tackles, 10 interceptions and defended 10 passes.
4. C.J. Barnett, 6-1, 203, Jr., Ohio State. A four-star cornerback recruit in 2009, Barnett was the No.13 cornerback prospect and the No.145 prospect overall. Barnett had knee surgery in 2010, but in 2011, his first full season as a starter, he led Ohio State in tackles with 75. The past two seasons, he’s made 4 interceptions and defended 12 passes.
5. Ed Reynolds, 6-2, 205, Sr., Stanford. A three-star recruit in 2010, Reynolds chose Stanford over Notre Dame and Michigan. In 2012, Reynolds’ first full season as a starter, he was a third-team All American, making 47 tackles (28 solo), and 6 interceptions.