(WIVB) — It takes confidence to play 54 games across four seasons at Alabama under Nick Saban.

DeMarcco Hellams certainly has that confidence, calling himself one of the best safeties in the NFL Draft this season.

In the 2022 season for the Crimson Tide, Hellams registered 108 tackles, leading the team and good for sixth in the SEC. Three of those tackles were for a loss, and he also had a sack, an interception and a forced fumble on what is always one of the best defenses in the country in Tuscaloosa.

“Toughness, instincts, I’m a guy that’s physically imposing the way I play is different from a lot of guys. I play with a lot of passion,” Hellams said.

During his time at Alabama, the program won 48 games, including a national championship in his sophomore year in 2020. As a senior in 2022, Alabama went 11-2, concluding the season with a victory in the Sugar Bowl.

Hellams, who is projected to be selected in the fifth or sixth round on the draft’s third day, is a versatile safety. He is comfortable playing deep as well as in coverage, but he is also solid near the line of scrimmage and can stop the run.

Analysts believe that early in his career, Hellams is likely to see much of his contribution come on special teams, but he certainly has the ability to develop into a quality starter over time, and that very well could happen in Buffalo. The Bills have the No. 137 overall pick in the fifth round and the No. 205 overall pick in the sixth round.

No matter what happens, Hellams is ready to make an impact at the next level.

“I like being wherever the ball is going to be whether that’s in the air or in the box I like playing football,” Hellams said. “I’m a ball player.”

Aidan Joly joined the News 4 staff in 2022. He is a graduate of Canisius College. You can see more of his work here.

Josh Reed is an award-winning journalist who has served as News 4’s Sports Director since 2015. See more here.