DB Khari Willis, Michigan St.

5’11” – 213 lbs. – 4.52

Started three of nine games played as a freshman before breaking his foot. Also started one of eleven games played the following year, totaling 41 tackles and three passes defensed over those two campaigns combined. Took over a starting role as a junior, posting a 71-5.5-3.0 line with two interceptions and three passes defensed, then picking up 77 tackles, another interception, and seven breakups as a senior. Big, well-built defensive back who played for a team which used field-side and boundary-side (short-side) safeties; he played the latter position, which was essentially a strong safety role. Smart player. Has solid instincts and flows toward the ball well in the run game, with the ability to pursue laterally and chase down ballcarriers in the open field. Although his overall level of athleticism is just average for the position, actually has a pretty good closing burst which he pairs with a solid tackling radius. Effective wrap tackler who makes the most of his opportunities and who can help set the tone defensively with physical play and good energy. Attacks blocks with power and aggression; gets good extension with his arms and uses heavy hands to shed. Coverage technique usually involved shuffling rather than backpedaling; has smooth, controlled footwork. When working in zone coverage, demonstrates a good feel for patterns developing underneath, with the timing to come up and deliver hits to break up would-be completions. Gets downhill to make tackles in the screen game quickly. Was utilized more heavily in coverage against receivers than he probably will be at the next level. Would occasionally drop down and get physical with opposing slot receivers, attempting to disrupt shallower routes, or line up in off-coverage almost like a cornerback. Even took some snaps out of press-man looks, although his average athleticism/fluidity might make that a bit of a risky gamble at the next level; got beat deep against Bowling Green as a junior but the pass fell incomplete. Also did a little bit of single-high but that probably won’t be his role as a pro. A smart player who has a good feel for the game, flows and tackles reliably in pursuit, and had an expansive role at the college level, but who will probably see that role constrained at the pro level because of his average athleticism. Looks like a potential mid-round pick.

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