Category: Defensive Back

DB Xavier McKinney, Alabama*

6’1” – 200 lbs.

Was a reserve and special-teams contributor as a freshman, finishing with eight tackles, then took over a starting role the following season, a year in which he finished with 74-6.0-3.0, ten breakups, and two interceptions. Saw his stats improve to 95-5.5-3.0 with five breakups and three interceptions the following season. Two of his career interceptions were returned for touchdowns, and he also forced six fumbles and blocked a kick over the past two seasons. Has a solid build for a pro defensive back, with good size and length. Was asked to help make a lot of the defensive calls at Alabama and appears to be an effective pre-snap communicator. Defensive responsibilities were pretty varied; would play in zones or even spy opposing quarterbacks from closer to the line of scrimmage, but was usually working as a high safety in zone coverages. Can also drop down and pattern-match or play man coverage against opposing targets; able to turn and run downfield and does a good job of using his hands to feel routes developing. Has enough speed to carry opponents down the field or patrol in zone; probably best classified as a solid but not elite athlete. Looks comfortable backpedaling, with solid balance and pretty clean footwork. Demonstrates good awareness of his responsibilities when diagnosing route combinations. Manages to balance aggressiveness and conservatism effectively, playing within the defense and handling his responsibilities without giving up too many easy throws by playing far off of opposing receivers and tight ends. On-ball production was solid over the past two years, with good awareness and the length to break up passes when targeted. When defending against a throw or coming up to support the run, ability to plant and drive is pretty impressive. Takes sound angles to the ball, closes fast, and can generate plenty of pop on contact to help set the tone defensively; would like to see more consistent wrap technique, though. Loves to come up and deliver big hits on opposing ballcarriers, although it’s possible some teams may worry about the toll such a playing style may have on his long-term durability. May not be quite an elite athlete, but checks pretty much all the boxes as a responsible safety with a good feel for the game, polished technique, and a physical approach to the game. Looks like a pretty safe bet to be a starter sooner rather than later; consequently, it wouldn’t be surprising to see him come off the board in the first round on draft day.

DB Isaiah Simmons, Clemson*

6’4” – 230 lbs.

Redshirted in 2016, spending time on the school’s track team as well (long jump). Rotated into the defense as a safety over 258 snaps the next season and ended up with 45-3.0-1.0 and six breakups. Started fourteen games at safety the following year and posted 97-9.5-1.5, with seven breakups and a pick-six. Listed at linebacker this past year and totaled 102-16.0-8.0 with seven breakups and three interceptions before declaring for the draft. Tall, lanky player who is a little bit thinner than you’d like in a linebacker, but who has ideal size for a safety. Despite being listed as a linebacker, is more of a swiss-army knife for the Tigers who can clearly handle a lot of varied responsibilities. Often lines up opposite slot receivers and will shade over bunches in zone looks, even taking some snaps as more of a cornerback; more like a nickel defender than a box linebacker, although he does play in that capacity at times as well. Looks smooth in coverage, with relaxed technique and good change-of-direction skills. Plays with a conservative temperament, keeping the play in front of him and limiting yards after the catch. Plant-and-drive skills are good; smoother than he is explosive, but times his approach well. Overall route recognition skills are adequate; doesn’t get caught out of position often. Looks comfortable carrying opposing targets down the field into deeper zones. Would like to see him clean up some elements of his technique a little bit; for example, will turn all the way around instead of into a receiver at the stem, and could be more consistent about using his hands to feel routes. Looks very smooth bending an arc to the passer when rushing in blitz packages. When defending against the run, demonstrates good patience to read keys and flow toward the ball, with solid angles in pursuit; many of his tackles for loss came by closing from more of a nickel look. Able to extend his arms and lock out opposing blockers, but tends to rely on his athleticism instead of physicality. Looks pretty physical when attacking opposing tackles from more of an outside linebacker look, although his anchor strength appears just adequate and wasn’t asked to set the edge very much. Length gives him an impressive tackling radius, although he can occasionally lapse into hitting opponents instead of using his technique to wrap. One of the smoothest, most productive, and most versatile prospects in this year’s draft class, he will enable a pro coordinator to get creative with their defense; being well-suited to the modern game, looks likely to come off the board within the top ten picks or so.

DB Grant Delpit, Louisiana St.*

6’3” – 203 lbs.

Has been a major contributor for the past three seasons. Posted 60 tackles, eight breakups, and an interception as a freshman, then saw his production explode the following year (74-9.5-5.0, nine breakups, five interceptions). Won the Thorpe Award this past season, posting 65-4.5-2.0 with seven breakups and two interceptions. Has excellent size and length for a pro defensive back; looks a little bit lanky but could definitely handle more weight on his frame. Played a lot of high safety in college, whether patrolling the back end of the defense with another player or in single-high coverage; would creep down into the box at times to defend against the run, or shade over and play off-coverage against an opposing receiver in the slot. Overall temperament in coverage is pretty conservative; can typically be found well off the line of scrimmage, keeping the play in front of him. Backpedals with good balance and relaxed footwork. Timed speed will be interesting, as he can often be slightly late to get to the sidelines and provide help from high coverage. Has a good feel for routes developing, with some burst when planting and driving on a spot; times his hits well to dislodge receivers from the ball at the catch point on routes over the middle of the field. Comfortable identifying his responsibilities when defending against route combinations. On-ball production is very good; didn’t see him intercept passes during the games reviewed, but seven picks over the past two seasons suggests he has solid hands. Makes quick tackles to limit yards after the catch when in position. Unfortunately, wasn’t asked to play a lot of man coverage, but has intriguing length for that type of role. Not afraid to stick his nose in and deliver hits on opposing running backs; rushing off the edge actually constitutes a fairly large portion of his snaps for a prospect who’s more of a deep safety on passing downs. Able to shuffle and find open lanes to the ball, but can also throw his body around a little bit at times and disrupt opposing blockers. Not the most reliable or technically-sound tackler and can be overpowered by some running backs. Can come in too hot and run himself out of some plays; would like to see a little bit more discipline. Susceptible to having his legs cut out when playing downhill. A vey productive three-year starter with the length and pattern recognition skills teams look for in a safety, but who may lack elite athleticism and who doesn’t always play under control in the run game. Looks likely to come off the board in the first round, but that may be a little bit risky.

DB Marvell Tell III, Southern California

6’2” – 198 lbs. – N/A
Started in two of ten games played at strong safety as a freshman, missing time due to a broken collarbone. Took over the starting free safety job the following year and posted 43 tackles and an interception. Reprised that role the following season and posted 85 tackles, three interceptions, then saw his production dip to 56 tackles and one interception this past year. Tall, long-limbed safety whose arms measured over 33” at the Combine. Lined up well off the line of scrimmage, typically in single-high or cover-two looks. Has a controlled backpedal with good balance and a seamless transition to driving on a spot. Has pretty sound instincts and often finds himself around the ball; a smooth, fluid athlete with good top-end speed. However, at times looked just a little bit late to get to the sidelines and provide help over the top on downfield throws. Likes to come up and support the run, taking solid angles to the ball and using his length to wrap up ballcarriers. Physical when it comes to taking on blocks. Tendency to come downhill and help out can sometimes cause him to take false steps on play-action, although he didn’t get beat over the top during the games reviewed. Would occasionally drop down and line up on the edge of the defense, blitzing the quarterback; however, didn’t often see him slide down into the slot and play in man or zone coverage against opposing receivers. Ball skills are a little bit hard to get a feel for based on the games reviewed, but has the type of length and leaping ability to make plays when in position; a player with more of a conservative approach in coverage than the type to try and undercut routes for interceptions. Boosted his stock with an outstanding Combine workout; didn’t run the 40, but blazed a 6.63-second cone drill, put together a 42” vertical, and broad-jumped 11’4”. Doesn’t have the sexiest tape but looks like a trustworthy safety who stays under control and keeps the play in front of him to limit big plays over the top; also offers an excellent combination of height, length, and athleticism which could make him a starter at the pro level. Currently projected to go in the mid-rounds, but it wouldn’t be surprising if he snuck into the second day as a high-floor prospect with plenty of tools and experience.

DB Sheldrick Redwine, Miami (FL)

6’0” – 196 lbs. – 4.44
Was a cornerback in high school, then appeared in a reserve/special teams capacity the following season. Started five of twelve games played the following year, picking up 28 tackles, then took over a full-time starting job as a junior, recording 59 tackles and two interceptions. Added another 64 tackles and three interceptions as a senior. Has a solid frame for a pro safety, with adequate size and length. Tended to take snaps well off the line of scrimmage, playing frequently as a robber in shorter zones. Would also shade over opposing receivers in the slot. Doesn’t have quite as much experience backpedaling, and can occasionally look a little bit flat-footed when playing as a robber, although he has quick feet once he gets going. Would like to see him get a little bit more depth in his drops to keep the play in front of him more consistently; can also struggle to place his hands in off-man, causing him to give up favorable position. Gets too aggressive in coverage rather than making sure to keep the play in front of him. However, when he’s got a receiver in front of him, looks to have pretty good timing and the plant-and-drive skills to break up throws with well-timed hits. A fast player, but who doesn’t quite have the smoothest movement skills. Didn’t take as many snaps in single-high or cover-two looks during the games reviewed. Has temperament of a strong safety; first instinct is to come up and support the run. Takes pretty good angles in pursuit and uses effective hit-and-wrap technique to bring down ballcarriers. Gets extension with his arms and can play off of blocks from opposing receivers to work his way to the ball with active hands. Would occasionally drop down to the edge and demonstrates good burst and bend as a run blitzer. Started for two and a half years at Miami, but still doesn’t have the best feel for coverage, with his aggressiveness allowing opposing receivers to create throwing windows for their quarterback. Looks more comfortable when he’s closer to the line of scrimmage, helping to defend the run as a box safety, a role which allows him to use his physicality and wrap technique to make an impact on the game. May need to begin his career on special teams while he either refines his game for a free-safety role or bulks up to play strong safety.

DB Will Harris, Boston College

6’1” – 207 lbs. – 4.41

Started three of twelve games played as a freshman (20 tackles, one interception, one breakup), then took over as the team’s full-time starter at strong safety the following season (47 tackles, two interceptions, four breakups), a role he retained for the remainder of his collegiate career. Recorded 83 tackles, another interception, and two breakups as a junior and 75 tackles and an interception as a senior. Big, thickly-built strong safety who lined up in deep zones, dropped down closer to the line of scrimmage, and would shade over opposing receivers in the slot. Brings good energy to the defense. Hard-charging player who can help set the tone with his physicality; likes to come up and support the game and flowing toward the ball; delivers some pretty big hits. Does a pretty good job of sensing the play direction in the run game. Often around the ball and racks up a lot of tackles, but lacks the recovery speed to get back into position when he comes in too fast and doesn’t break down. In deep zone coverage, has sound balance and quick feet to backpedal into his area, and plays with pretty good instincts. Able to anticipate developments underneath and come up to deliver hits on targets; however, actual on-ball production was fairly limited over the course of his career, and is more likely to make quick tackles after the catch than to make plays on the throw itself. Pass defense suffers from the same shortcoming that his run defense does: is a little bit of a one-speed player who generally has good instincts but lacks the athletic ability to get back into the play when he takes false steps. Often looks a little bit late to get to the sidelines and provide help over the top in cover-two. Occasionally came down to the edge and rushed the passer or helped with run blitzes; managed to pick up 5.5 tackles for loss as a junior. A big strong safety who handled diverse responsibilities over three-plus years as a starter, but who will probably see a reduced role at the pro level unless he tests better than anticipated and proves he can reach spots on a consistent basis. Projects more as a third-day pick whose physicality and energy could help him contribute on special teams and in a reserve capacity.

DB Taylor Rapp, Washington*

6’0” – 208 lbs. – N/A

Started ten of fourteen games played as a true freshman, recording 58 tackles and four interceptions, then followed that up with seasons of 59 tackles, one interception and 58 tackles, two interceptions. Also recorded six career sacks and broke up six passes. Well-built with solid height and good musculature. Takes snaps as a single high safety, but will shade over to provide coverage on slot receivers on a regular basis. Plays with the type of conservative temperament that teams looking for a trustworthy option will appreciate; realizes that he represents the last line of defense and does a good job of keeping the play in front of him. Has an easy shuffle and gets good depth on his drops. Patient with his reads and does a good job flowing toward the ball; combination of play recognition and solid speed causes him to end up around the ball often, albeit not always as the first man on the scene. Risk-averse approach carries over into coverage, where he tends to play a little bit off to limit big plays over the top and yards after the catch; flip-side is that he could be targeted on higher-percentage throws underneath when playing from the slot. Able to place his hands and provide pretty good coverage down the seams, although he’s not the most fluid defender and might be susceptible to well-timed passes. Good plant-and-drive speed to close on a spot and deliver hits on ballcarriers; able to function as an enforcer when playing robber coverage over the middle of the field. Gets his arms extended and attacks blockers with physicality and active hands; good positioning to funnel runners back in. Uses effective wrap technique to bring down ballcarriers. Also has some experience as a blitzer off the edge, as evidenced by his career sack totals; does a good job of locating clear lanes and closes quickly. Despite being a bigger player, and despite his tough style of play, wasn’t really asked to come down into the box and defend the run as often as anticipated, although that is something he may be successful at. Teams looking for a fast, aggressive ball-hawk may want to look elsewhere, but has the smart, polished, and conservative temperament that teams running a bend, don’t break defense will be attracted to, with the size and physicality to support the run. Probably made the right choice to declare for the draft, as he doesn’t have any major weaknesses that would have made returning to school a good idea.

DB Nasir Adderley, Delaware

6’0” – 206 lbs. – N/A

Has been a full-time starter since his freshman season. Originally began his career as a cornerback, which he played for two years before transitioning to safety as a junior; tape reviewed is from his senior season. Also returned kicks and punts. Tall, lanky free safety who was typically playing well off the line of scrimmage in high coverage. Has a good-looking backpedal and quick feet to get depth in his drops. Clean footwork on his shuffle to spot-drop into deep zones. Makes the transition from backpedaling to driving on a spot smoothly, with good burst. Very rangy player who combines impressive top-end speed with fluid movement skills overall; can make his way out to the sidelines to defend passes or make tackles in the run game, exhibiting a strong motor in pursuit. Doesn’t have the strongest build but attacks blocks with aggression and doesn’t mind mixing it up on his way to the ball; generates a surprising amount of force and keeps his legs driving after contact. Good hit-and-wrap tackler with a wide radius; can also make it out to the sideline and separate receivers from the ball with well-timed hits. However, has a tendency to take angles which are too aggressive; was still able to put himself into position to make plenty of stops at the college level because of his speed and length, but left some yards on the field. Comes in too hot and would benefit from breaking down more consistently when defending the run. Could sometimes be fooled by misdirection and run himself out of the play; feel for the position is still a little bit of a work in progress. Consequently, at this point is more of a player who has the athletic ability to put himself in the right spot than someone who can consistently be counted on to do so. Length, athletic ability, and physicality allow him to shade over pairs of receivers and defend screens, or flip his hips and carrying opposing targets down the seams. A pretty interesting player who combines the physical, aggressive temperament of a safety with the athletic ability of a cornerback. Has a bit of a thin frame and is still developing his instincts, but has a higher ceiling than many of the safety prospects in this year’s class, which looks like it could earn him a spot within the top fifty picks or so.

DB Mike Edwards, Kentucky

5’11” – 205 lbs. – N/A

Redshirted, then started the last five of twelve games played the following year (39 tackles, one interception, two passes defensed). Went 100-5.5-0.5 with three interceptions and eight breakups as a sophomore, 96-4.0-1.0 with four interceptions and seven breakups as a junior, and 82-9.5-0.0 with two interceptions and six breakups as a senior to conclude his collegiate career. Free safety who tended to play in high zones, but would also come down to provide coverage over the slot from both press- and off looks on a regular basis, and occasionally even rush from the edge as an extra blitzer. Has a lanky build; looks a little bit more like a cornerback, but size and length look adequate for the safety position. Has controlled footwork when backpedaling or shuffling, and looks pretty smooth flipping his hips to carry receivers down the field from the slot. Covers a lot of ground and is able to spot-drop with quick feet on his backpedal. Pretty solid plant-and-drive to come down and deliver hits or make tackles on underneath throws. Had impressive on-ball production in college and does a good job of getting his head around and using his length when in-phase. Willing to come up and support the run, as his gaudy tackle totals over the past three years suggest; however, can let his aggressiveness get the best of him, having been exploited by throws off of play action against Tennessee, getting sucked up and losing opponents in coverage. Does a good job of reading keys and putting himself in position to make tackles on plays in front of him; often around the ball because of his combination of instincts, effective angles in pursuit, and good top-end speed. Homing missile who closes fast and can generate some pop on contact despite a frame which is somewhat thinner than ideal. Good wrap tackler who can bring down ballcarriers in space and breaks down well in the open field. Could do a better job of using his arms to play off of blocks instead of trying to run around them (more finesse than physical), but managed to get outside position and funnel runners back in. Three-and-a-half-year starter with an impressive combination of athleticism, instincts, technique, and tackling ability for a pro free safety; one of the more pro-ready defensive back prospects in this year’s class, with the ability to play in deep zones, drop down into the slot, or come up and support the run, qualities which could earn him second-day consideration.

DB Mike Bell, Fresno St.*

6’3” – 210 lbs. – 4.84

Redshirted, then started the last of twelve total games played the following year, picking up thirty-five tackles. Started the last nine of twelve games played the following year, picking up 77 tackles, one interception, and three passes defensed. Totaled 87 tackles, three interceptions, and eight breakups as a redshirt junior, then declared for the draft. Tall prospect with solid bulk and impressive length for the position. Tended to take snaps well off the line of scrimmage and work his way up; snaps in the box were a relatively small part of his collegiate role. Has an easy backpedal and is an average to above-average athlete who looks pretty good when planting and driving or coming downhill to defend the run or rush the passer. Was asked to work in deep zones, demonstrating sound footwork and the ability to get depth, keep the play in front of him, read the quarterback’s eyes, and drive on spots. Got his hands on a lot of passes this past season and can also help enforce over the middle of the field with well-timed hit. Has an adequate closing burst and can generate some pop on contact. Instincts can often be a little bit off when working in deep zones, causing him to arrive late or get too shallow. Relatively limited work against opposing receivers and tight ends during the games reviewed, shading over for zone coverage at times but rarely playing man. Exhibits a pretty solid motor and a willingness to support the run. However, at this point there’s too much wasted movement to his game, possibly the product of indecisiveness. Looks a split-second late to recognize what’s going on and doesn’t always have the recovery speed to compensate for that. Despite his size and length, isn’t one of the most reliable tackles in the class; resorts too heavily to arm tackles or attempts to take out an opponent’s legs instead of breaking down, hitting, and wrapping. Needs to keep his head up more consistently. Despite having over two years of starting experience, doesn’t really look ready yet, needing to improve his instincts and tackling technique. He could have continued to polish his skills with another season at Fresno St., and having timed extremely poorly in Indianapolis, he might have trouble attracting interest before the mid-to-late rounds of the draft.