DB #1 Jayron Kearse, Clemson*

6’5” – 220 lbs. – 4.60e

Played both quarterback and safety in high school. Has pro bloodlines; is the nephew of former defensive end Jevon Kearse and the cousin of former cornerback Phillip Buchanon. Started three of twelve games as a true freshman, but played a considerable number of snaps on the season before taking over as the full-time starter as a sophomore. Very tall defender who lines up all over the field; strong safety whose snaps are pretty evenly-distributed between those taken well off the line of scrimmage, those from a box position similar to a linebacker, and those taken as more of an edge defender. Has a somewhat top-heavy build with average bulk, long limbs, and a slightly top-heavy distribution. Speed is only average, limiting his range as a center-field option; won’t chase down any backs or receivers from behind. Change-of-direction, however, is above-average for someone with his frame. Not as good in run support as his size would indicate; gives good effort, but makes some diagnostic errors and isn’t particularly forceful or sound as a tackler, plays in which he’s able to unload on an unsuspecting receiver aside. Will let some running backs pick up yards after contact because he’s too upright. Tends to get caught up in trash, although he’s capable of holding up better than most safeties. That said, he will rarely put himself in a bad position by taking a weak angle. Can force runners back inside, and breaks down reasonably well in the open field. Rarely asked to defend against an opposing back or tight end in man coverage, but will shade over against bunch formation, periodically taking responsibility for slot receivers. Uses his length in press coverage, but can get a little bit grabby. Has enough speed to carry receivers downfield from a deep starting position. Pro teams will probably be interested in how well he can defend tight ends, but the games reviewed were inadequate to ascertain that. Has made some contributions on kick-coverage units as well. While his incredible height and length will draw plenty of attention, he may not have a clear-cut role in a pro defense at this point, as he is not athletic enough to work in center-field and is also not overwhelmingly physical or effective in run support. Best traits thus far are his abilities to work over slot receivers or take on blocks as an in-the-box safety, which could earn him snaps in a “big nickel” defense which substitutes a third safety for a third cornerback.

Games watched: Syracuse (’14), Florida St. (’15), Notre Dame (’15)

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