Tuesday, May 6, 2014

Safety Rankings

There are three skills I look for in safeties to gauge if they fit what Chip Kelly wants: range, physical tackling, and man coverage ability.

Players like Calvin Pryor and Deone Bucannon aren't on my draft board because their skill-set doesn't translate well to the NFL under those three criterion. Both players will struggle in man coverage vs. slot receivers, something Chip asks his safeties to do, ask Patrick Chung.

Here's my top ten:

1. Ha Ha Clinton-Dix (6-1, 208)

Clinton-Dix is a tall, long center-fielder who has good instincts. He may not lay the lumber, but he's a reliable wrap-up tackler. He has a skill-set that translates well to man coverage. Clinton-Dix can play overaggressive at times, and should add some bulk to his frame. His speed doesn't time well, but he plays fast.

2. Terrence Brooks (5-11, 198)

Brooks has great speed (4.42 40), good athleticism, and fluid movement. He doesn't have elite height, but has a 38" vertical which helps in jump ball situations. Brooks has great range and good man coverage ability, a cornerback background. He is a physical, willing tackler, and a great presence in the locker room. He's only been a safety for two years and while he's physical, he will duck his head and miss a tackle. Brooks should add a little more weight to his frame.

3. Jaylen Watkins (5-11, 194)

Watkins is a very versatile player, a CB/S hybrid. While his frame is lean, he is a strong player (22 reps on bench) who plays fearless football. Watkins has great speed (4.41 40) and is willing in run support. He should add some weight, possessing only average size for safety. He can come in overaggressive for the tackle and leave his feet. Watkins is physical with receivers down-field, which could draw flags in NFL.

4. Jimmie Ward (5-11, 193)

Ward is a very fluid athlete with cornerback coverage ability. He is versatile and physical, possessing extremely loose hips. His 38" vertical makes up for average height. Ward is also an emotional player on the field, very willing in run support. He has a slight frame that needs more bulk and, like Watkins, may draw flags for grabby down-field play. There are maturity issues with Ward that must be looked into.

5. Brock Vereen (6-0, 199)

Vereen is an athlete with good speed (4.47 40) and strength (25 reps on bench). He showed great movement and change-of-direction at the Combine. Vereen is smart and can handle occasional man coverage duty. He has great character and versatility. He needs to bulk up and become a more consistent tackler. Vereen's durability could also be an issue at the next level.

6. LaMarcus Joyner (5-8, 184)

It pains me to put Joyner all the way down at six. He's a great player with tremendous playmaking ability and versatility. He is a violent striker and an asset vs. the run. He is a team leader with great instincts and closing speed. But the fact is, he's 5-8 without elite athleticism. He could struggle vs. big TEs. Great player with poor measurables.

7. Craig Loston (5-11, 217)

Loston is not a tremendous athlete, but he's strong, smart, and fearless. He can handle man coverage vs. tight ends and reads routes well. He was the quarterback of the defense at LSU. He can play overaggressive and his athleticism isn't off the charts. He could struggle vs. quick slot receivers. He will struggle to play center-field. What he lacks in speed and quickness, he makes up for with intelligence.

8. Dezmen Southward (6-0, 211)

Southward is a tremendous athlete, posting a 4.38 40 and 42" vertical at his Pro Day. He has great change-of-direction and loves contact. His size is good for the position. Southward doesn't play up to his timed speed and is a raw prospect. His man coverage skills aren't polished, but he has the physical tools to develop.

9. Antone Exum (6-0, 213)

Exum has a tremendous build, and is a very physical player. He plays an athletic brand of football despite an average Combine showing. Exum can handle man coverage, but does tend to face guard down-field. He could wrap up more securely and his toughness is a concern. Exum is a bright guy, but has a very arrogant personality that may clash in the locker room.

10. Ahmad Dixon (6-0, 212)

Dixon has good size and length, playing faster than his timed speed and covering a lot of ground. He very willing to aid in the run game, showing he can be a reliable tackler. He's an athletic player with quick movements. His hips are a little tight and he may struggle in man coverage. His instincts are raw and he could probably use some time to work on technique.

Two UDFA Targets:

John Ojo (6-3, 203)

Ojo has tremendous athleticism, posting a 41" vertical leap at his Pro Day. He obviously has good height, but he also has ridiculously long arms (35 3/8"). He is a good tackler and can handle center field, covering a lot of ground. He's a strong character guy as well, but does only possess average speed. He's 24-years-old and has raw technique. He's a developmental guy with gigantic upside if he figures it out.

Eric Pinkins (6-3, 220)

Pinkins posted an eye-popping 4.40 40 at his Pro Day, also displaying a shredded physique. He also recorded a 39.5" vertical and showed great strength, with 25 reps on bench. He's physical against the run but his technique is far from refined. He is a raw player who isn't ready to contribute in 2014, but the talent and work ethic are there to succeed.

No comments:

Post a Comment