FS NICKOE WHITLEY, MISSISSIPPI ST.

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6’1” – 205 lbs. – 4.65e

STATISTICAL PROFILE:

2009: Redshirt
2010: 52 – 1.5 – 1.5, 2 QBH, 1 FF, 3 PD, 3 INT
2011: 34 – 2.0 – 0.0, 1 FF, 1 PD, 4 INT
2012: 88 – 3.5 – 0.0, 1 FF, 3 INT
2013: 55 – 1.0 – 0.0, 1 QBH, 2 FF, 1 FR, 2 PD, 5 INT, 1 BK

OVERVIEW:

Redshirted in 2009, then started eleven of the thirteen games he appeared in in 2010. Started seven of nine games in 2011 before rupturing his Achilles’. Returned to start all thirteen games in 2012, then eleven in 2013 despite tearing his ACL in the third game of the season.

POSITIVES:

•    Despite injuries, managed to accumulate nearly four years of SEC starting experience.
•    Very tough; tore his ACL in the third week of 2013 and somehow finished the year.
•    Possesses a prototypical combination of height and bulk for an NFL free safety.
•    Overall style of play may make him better suited to working in-the-box at the next level.
•    Has lined up as a deep safety, in the slot, and as essentially a linebacker in college.
•    Plays with a physical, aggressive, nasty on-field demeanor coaches may appreciate.
•    Capable of lining up ballcarriers and making some big hits, has forced a few fumbles.
•    Showcases soft hands; has recorded three or more interceptions in every season.
•    Temperament and physicality appear well-suited to a special teams role in the pros.

NEGATIVES:

•    Torn ACL will likely prevent him from working out, create a medical question mark.
•    Also ruptured his Achilles’ in 2011, another cause for concern requiring investigation.
•    Adequate range in deep coverage but doesn’t have particularly impressive athleticism.
•    Aggressiveness can frequently be exploited via play fakes and misdirection plays.
•    Not exactly the type of patient free safety teams want as their last line of defense.
•    For every big play he makes for his own team, he enables one or two from opponents.
•    Also commits a few too many penalties, seemingly has trouble maintaining composure.

SUMMARY:

Whitley’s size, physicality, and soft hands are characteristic of a quality safety, but despite having four years of starting experience under his belt, his aggressiveness and impatience can be exploited too easily to feel comfortable letting him see the field on defense without making some major strides. To compound matters, he tore his Achilles’ in 2011 and ACL in 2013, with the latter injury potentially slowing a safety whose speed was already underwhelming to begin with. At this point, he is a defensive liability with serious health concerns.

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