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PFF names Rod Moore, Makari Paige among highest graded returning safeties

The safety duo is projected to be one of the best in the country.

Syndication: Detroit Free Press Kirthmon F. Dozier / USA TODAY NETWORK

While the Michigan football offseason drags on, the hype train continues to pick up steam, with safeties Rod Moore and Makari Paige being the latest to be recognized by Pro Football Focus.

PFF recently named Moore (No. 3) and Paige (No. 7) two of the highest graded returning safeties in college football for 2023.

The most notable mention here? Rod Moore. The Clayton, Ohio native is back after a massive step forward in 2022 that saw him appear in each of Michigan’s 14 games on his way to an All-Big Ten selection.

Moore led all defensive backs on the team with 71 tackles and 1.5 tackles for loss. He didn’t just stop there — compiling a team-leading four interceptions, along with seven pass breakups.

What analysts love most about Moore is that pass coverage is not his only skill. According to PFF, Moore tallied three quarterback pressures, 11 run stops and missed just five tackles all season. He also held opponents to an NFL passer rating of 63.6 in coverage, while allowing just one completion of more than 26 yards in 37 targets.

Moore is only behind Miami’s Kamren Kinchens (No. 1) and West Virginia’s Aubrey Burks (No. 2) on the list.

While most onlookers certainly wouldn’t have been shocked to see Moore’s ranking be so high, Paige at No. 7 may come as a bit more a surprise to some.

Appearing in 12 games and started five at safety, Paige recorded 41 tackles, one sack, three pass breakups and one beautiful interception against the Ohio State Buckeyes.

According to PFF, Paige finished second only to Will Johnson as the Wolverines’ highest-graded defender overall at 81.5. He also had a safety grade of 79.1, which puts him among college football’s elite.

Also notable is the recent transfer of RJ Moten, who held a firm grasp on the No. 2 safety spot until Paige overtook it over the course of the 2022 season. A battle that carried over into the spring ball, Paige winning the job ultimately led to Moten’s transfer to Florida.

Only time will tell if this safety group is able to meet the lofty expectations that have been set, but the Michigan faithful should rest easy knowing what they have waiting in the defensive backfield.