In Part 2 of our Browns safety preview, we look at the remaining players fighting for a roster spot: J.T. Hassell, Elijah Benton, and Jovante Moffatt.
5. J.T. Hassell - Backup Safety
Height: 5-11 | Weight: 200 lbs | Age: 24
Experience: 2 years | College: Florida Tech
The Browns signed J.T. Hassell in 2019 as an undrafted free agent. He began the season on the team’s practice squad before being promoted to the main roster in November. During the preseason, he had 13 tackles and 3 tackles on special teams. During the regular season, he logged 3 tackles on defense and 2 tackles & 2 assists on special teams. Even though he only played 16 snaps on defense for the year, he technically earned the top tackling grade on the team from Pro Football Focus (87.7). That’s better than whiffing at least — make your limited reps count!
Hassell had an impressive Pro Day last year. Speaking of last year, it’s a good time to revisit an article from 2019, where Hassell defied the odds to make the NFL, especially since he was born with only two fingers on his left hand. Check it out. I don’t know if the Browns will keep five safeties, but he could grab a spot on the practice squad.
Final Roster Odds: 10%
6. Elijah Benton - Undrafted Rookie Safety
Height: 6-1 | Weight: 205 lbs | Age: 23
Experience: Rookie | College: Liberty
Elijah Benton was one of two undrafted free agents who the Browns signed this offseason at the safety position. He was the 84th-ranked safety on Dane Brugler’s list heading into the draft. You can see him making an interception for Liberty here:
Benton registered 85 tackles during his senior year. The consensus seems to be that he was a quality player, but didn’t do anything that made him stand out compared to the rest of the crowd. One interesting nugget, though, is that earlier this offseason, Terry Pluto of the Plain Dealer said this about Benton:
“I’ve heard the Browns scouts and coaches are very excited to see if Liberty safety Elijah Benton will look as good on the field as he did on video.”
Final Roster Odds: 5%
7. Jovante Moffatt - Undrafted Rookie Safety
Height: 5-11 | Weight: 213 lbs | Age: 23
Experience: Rookie | College: Middle Tennessee
Last on the list is Jovante Moffatt, the final defensive player for us to cover. He made headlines the other day for being one of two players to land on the reserve/COVID-19 list already, which hurts your odds of making the team when you’re trying to show the coaches what you can do. With that said, Moffatt was the higher-ranked of the Browns’ two undrafted safeties from this year’s class, at least according to Dane Brugler. Brugler had Moffatt as his 25th-ranked safety:
A two-star recruit out of high school, Jovante Moffatt helped lead Union City High to back-to-back state titles in 2013 and 2014, finishing his senior year with 50 tackles and six interceptions on defense, adding 890 rushing yards on offense. Ranked as the No. 98 recruit in the state of Tennessee, he committed to Middle Tennessee over Western Kentucky, becoming a sophomore starter at safety. He led the team in tackles in 2017 and 2019, missing most of the 2018 season due to a shoulder issue. Moffatt, who finished his career No. 5 in school history in tackles, is a rangy high-low run defender, running the alley with conviction and stroking ball carriers in space. While he has above average play speed, he can be caught freelancing and false-stepping and must become a more disciplined player, especially in coverage. Overall, Moffatt’s hyper-aggressive play style will lead to mistakes, but his competitive urgency will be more of a strength than a weakness in the NFL.
Moffatt started 55 games in college, showing off a physical presence, but the biggest weakness of his game is that he was too inconsistent. In other words, he was almost the opposite of Benton: Moffatt would flash brilliance some weeks, and then struggle in other weeks. Here is one optimistic assessment of him, though:
Been a big believer of Middle Tennessee safety Jovante Moffatt (@Jovante_Moffatt) for some time now. Physical presence at safety, Jovante exemplifies intensity as a football player. Really underrated range as well for his play style. Don’t overlook him folks. Really good player. pic.twitter.com/zaaGZloY3M— Ryan Roberts (@RiseNDraft) December 22, 2019
Final Roster Odds: 5%
Which of these three safeties intrigues you the most?
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