SS DION BAILEY, SOUTHERN CALIFORNIA*

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6’0” – 200 lbs. – 4.65e

STATISTICAL PROFILE:

2010: Redshirt
2011: 81 – 2.0 – 2.0, 1 FF, 2 PD, 2 INT (SLB)
2012: 80 – 8.0 – 1.0, 1 FF, 5 PD, 4 INT (SLB)
2013: 62 – 6.5 – 0.5, 1 FF, 6 PD, 5 INT (SS)

OVERVIEW:

Was recruited as a safety, but transitioned to linebacker during spring practice in 2011 after spending his true freshman season as a redshirt, starting at strongside linebacker in eleven games, earning All-Pac-12 Second Team recognition. Reprised his role in 2012, starting all thirteen games. Underwent offseason shoulder surgery, then transitioned to safety in 2013.

POSITIVES:

•    Will be leaving school with three seasons of starting experience for a major program.
•    Overall combination of size and bulk is solid for a safety prospect, free or strong.
•    Versatile, having spent time at strongside linebacker before transitioning to safety.
•    The type of player who will benefit from the league’s emphasis on sub packages.
•    Has been asked to line up in the slot, chipping receivers or covering in man or zone.
•    Capable of chipping a slot receiver and subsequently making a spot drop in zone.
•    Patient in run support, avoids being sucked in by misdirection/fakes by overcommitting.
•    Forceful hitter who can help set the tone defensively when he squares up opponents.
•    Soft hands, managed to come away with eleven interceptions over three seasons.
•    Having spent only one season at safety, likely has further developmental potential.

NEGATIVES:

•    Didn’t take many snaps as a traditional deep safety, almost always in the box or slot.
•    Consequently, teams looking for conventional high safeties need to use imagination.
•    Not particularly fast or explosive, average to below-average athleticism for safety.
•    Probably not someone teams will feel confident employing in man coverage in slot.
•    Takes some poor angles in deep coverage owing to his inexperience in that regard.
•    Backpedal looks sloppy, weight distribution is awkward, lacks controlled footwork.
•    Would need to add a significant amount of bulk in order to move back to linebacker.
•    Offseason shoulder surgery prior to this season will require further medical inspection.

SUMMARY:

A few years ago, Bailey may not have been considered a particularly high draft pick, but with the league now prioritizing finding “Star” personnel for their sub packages, a player who has played both Sam linebacker and safety is valuable. At this point, Bailey needs a lot of work on his backpedal and deep coverage instincts, the latter of which haven’t been on display at USC, but already possesses solid ball skills, contributing as a fairly effective run defender as well. Not a freak, but can do a few different things fairly well, with further upside.

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