Tagged: Free Safety

FS SEAN PARKER, WASHINGTON

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5’10” – 195 lbs. – 4.50e

STATISTICAL PROFILE:

2010: 10 – 0.0 – 0.0, 1 INT
2011: 91 – 1.5 – 0.0, 1 QBH, 2 PD, 4 INT
2012: 77 – 3.5 – 0.0, 2 FF, 4 PD, 2 INT
2013: 67 – 3.5 – 1.0,4 PD, 4 INT

OVERVIEW:

Worked as a slot man and kick returner in 2010, playing in nine of thirteen possible games. Started every game in each of the following three seasons, totaling thirty-nine games, being named a team captain prior to his junior year, with second-team recognition that year as well.

POSITIVES:

•    Will graduate having started for each of the past three seasons in a major conference.
•    Overall combination of height and bulk are adequate; has played a bit heavier (’10-’11.)
•    Overall temperament, confidence, and energy are desirable for a pro defensive back.
•    Rangy center-fielder who combines movement skills and diagnostic abilities effectively.
•    When he’s not aligned deep, comes down into the slot and looks comfortable there.
•    Soft hands to make the interception; has picked off eleven passes over college career.
•    Closes well once he’s made a read, comes flying in to make a tackle from time to time.
•    Not afraid to come in and mix it up against the run despite only adequate size/bulk.
•    In addition to playing deep, also works in the slot often, and covers/returned kickoffs.

NEGATIVES:

•    Probably not someone who can also play strong safety effectively, a strict free safety.
•    Height, bulk, strength are insufficient to line up against pro tight ends in man coverage.
•    His aggressiveness sometimes works against him, can be caught out of position deep.
•    Inconsistent technique, will often opt for the big hit rather than making an effort to wrap.
•    Also tends to come in too fast, fail to break down in the open field, and miss the tackle.

SUMMARY:

Parker is a player who succeeds because he complements his athleticism with an energetic, aggressive style of play, but that eagerness to make a big play is also his biggest weakness, suggesting that it will be difficult to exorcise his weaknesses without taking away some of what made him successful to begin with. Parker is a confident, rangy center-fielder with quality ball skills, and who also worked extensively in the slot, with his additional special-teams contributions suggesting an early niche for him to assume at the next level. However, in an effort to make the big play, he often appears to be playing out of control, coming in too fast to make a tackle, abandoning his technique, or being caught out of position downfield by attempting to make an early decision. Nonetheless, he remains one of the most athletic safety prospects in the draft, which should earn him consideration early on the draft’s third day.

FS ALDEN DARBY, ARIZONA ST.

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5’11” – 195 lbs. – 4.55e

STATISTICAL PROFILE:

2010: 14 – 0.0 – 0.0 (CB)
2011: 51 – 1.0 – 0.0, 3 PD, 3 INT (FS)
2012: 80 – 5.5 – 2.0, 1 FF, 4 PD, 3 INT (1 TD)
2013: 72 – 2.0 – 0.0, 2 FF, 9 PD, 4 INT (1 TD)

OVERVIEW:

Appeared in eleven games as a true freshman, then converted to safety and started two of twelve games in 2011. Started ten of thirteen games in 2012, earning second-team all-conference honors, then was named to the first team as a senior in 2013 after starting all fourteen games.

POSITIVES:

•    Will graduate having been a productive starter for two seasons, also important in 2011.
•    Combination of height and length are consistent with a pro free safety; adequate bulk.
•    Possesses the athleticism to defend receivers in coverage; also played corner in 2010.
•    Consistently keeps the play in front of him, is conscious of being last line of defense.
•    Soft hands; has intercepted at least three passes in each of the past three seasons.
•    Backpedal technique could be cleaned up but still manages to cover lots of ground.
•    When he does attempt tackles, he remembers his fundamentals rather than trying to hit.
•    Also remained a member of Arizona State’s kick-coverage units throughout his career.

NEGATIVES:

•    Size limitations will probably restrict versatility, limiting him to free safety, not strong.
•    More of a smooth mover than someone who displays explosiveness out of breaks.
•    Even in college, doesn’t really come down into the box very often to mix it up vs. run.
•    Probably not big or physical enough to offer a viable option for defending tight ends.
•    When other players are in position to make the tackle, is a bit deferential if possible.
•    Effective in his backpedal more than he is technically sound, gets a bit high at times.
•    Relatively inexperienced in the slot compared to others; more of a true center-fielder.

OVERVIEW:

Darby is one of the more underrated free safety prospects in this year’s class, a converted cornerback who possesses a nice combination of size, bulk, and athleticism, tools which are complemented by a sense of responsibility while working as a center-fielder. Rather than freelancing in deep zones, Darby is the type of prospect who flies a bit under the radar because he attempts to minimize big plays by opposing offenses rather than making big plays of his own. Nonetheless, teams seeking a play who does a good job of keeping the play in front of him and is capable of making the interception when he’s in position to could do worse than Darby, who may not be one of the most versatile options in the class but is good at what he does.

FS JONATHAN DOWLING, WESTERN KENTUCKY

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6’3” – 198 lbs. – 4.50e

STATISTICAL PROFILE:

2010: University of Florida
2011: Redshirt (Transfer to Western Kentucky)
2012: 68 – 2.5 – 0.0, 2 FF, 7 PD, 6 INT (1 TD), 1 BK
2013: 67 – 1.0 – 0.0, 1 QBH, 6 FF, 7 PD, 3 INT

OVERVIEW:

Spent one year at Florida, but was dismissed for reportedly clashing with the coaching staff and skipping classes. Sat out the 2011 season due to transfer rules, then was named an All-Sun-Belt First Team selection in 2012 after starting eleven games. Also made the first team in 2013, starting twelve games.

POSITIVES:

•    Possesses outstanding height and length for a pro safety, with adequate weight as well.
•    Earned first-team all-conference honors in both of his seasons with the Hilltoppers.
•    Athleticism allows him to cover impressive range in zone, cover opposing slot receivers.
•    Has fluid hips, allowing him to remain with receivers when deployed in man coverage.
•    Capable of making big hits on unsuspecting receivers, fairly aggressive in this regard.
•    Exhibits soft hands to make interceptions, generally times his plays on the ball well.
•    Managed to force eight fumbles over the past two seasons, including six times in 2013.
•    Confident player who plays with a swagger, seems to relish assuming an enforcer role.
•    Also did some work on special-teams coverage units, plus blocked a kick back in 2012.

NEGATIVES:

•    Dismissal from Florida in 2010 is a major red flag which teams must closely investigate.
•    Must learn to wrap ballcarriers rather than attempting to go low, leading with shoulder.
•    Takes some sharp pursuit angles, causing him to end up out of position to make a stop.
•    Poor tackling technique/parlous angles makes him unreliable as a last line of defense.
•    Lack of ideal strength/bulk allows opponents to shrug off some of the hits he attempts.
•    Hasn’t done much work in the box; thin build will likely prevent him from playing there.

SUMMARY:

Dowling opted to forego his senior season after two productive campaigns at Western Kentucky in which he demonstrated a knack for forcing turnovers, whether by making interceptions or stripping ballcarriers. His rare height and length, combined with solid speed and fluid hips, make him an interesting gamble as a developmental center-fielder, although at this point his disregard for tackling technique and his aggressive angles in pursuit are significant flaws given that free safeties are considered a team’s last line of defense. Previous issues at Florida leading to his dismissal from the team, which reportedly included clashes with position coach Chuck Heater and poor attendance in school, mean teams will have to conduct considerable research into his character, particularly his ability to handle hard coaching, something which Dowling identified as a point of contention between himself and Heater. The most deleterious flaws in Dowling’s game can be eliminated, but whether or not he will respond well to instruction remains to be seen.

FS CALVIN PRYOR, LOUISVILLE*

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6’2” – 208 lbs. – 4.55e

STATISTICAL PROFILE:

2011: 43 – 3.0 – 1.0, 2 FF, 5 PD, 2 INT
2012: 99 – 2.5 – 1.0, 1 QBH, 4 FF, 1 FR, 5 PD, 2 INT
2013: 75 – 5.5 – 0.0, 3 QBH, 2 FF, 1 FR, 4 PD, 3 INT

OVERVIEW:

Started the final seven games of his true freshman season while appearing in the other six. Started all thirteen games as a sophomore, then all twelve games he appeared in as a junior, missing the Memphis game due to injury; he earned all-conference first-team honors in 2013.

POSITIVES:

•    Possesses an ideal combination of height and weight for a defensive back prospect.
•    Will graduate having started at Louisville since the middle of his true freshman season.
•    Has been employed in various capacities, although primarily works in deep coverage.
•    Could realistically play either safety spot, used more like a free safety at Louisville.
•    Aggressive, willing tackler who can help set the tone defensively, work as enforcer.
•    Does a nice job of lining up big hits on receivers in order to separate them from the ball.
•    Doesn’t rely exclusively on big hits, also displays sound wrap tackling technique.
•    Fast enough in a straight line to avoid being exploited by receivers on deep routes.
•    Demonstrates an impressive closing burst, can generate plenty of force on contact.
•    Big and fluid enough to inspire confidence in his ability to cover tight ends in the pros.

NEGATIVES:

•    Comes in too fast vs. the run at times, failing to break down, ending up out of position.
•    Tendency to administer big hits on runners may lead to costly penalties in today’s NFL.
•    Needs to get more consistent depth on his zone drops when lined up near the LOS.
•    Blows man coverage at times as a result of sitting on shorter routes, getting burned.
•    Can be successfully manipulated by quarterbacks who look him off on deep throws.

SUMMARY:

Pryor possesses prototypical size for a pro safety, with sufficient range to play deep zone, sufficient fluidity to work in man coverage, and an outstanding combination of explosiveness, power, and aggressiveness which make him a fearsome hitter. Used as more of a free safety at Louisville, Pryor could potentially assume the same role in the pros, but it’s also possible that the team which drafts him will envision him as someone who can play in the box and provide an intimidating presence versus the run. There are times when Pryor would benefit from more conservative approaches to pursuit and coverage, leading to missed tackles or blown assignments, mistakes which will likely persist as a product of his overall approach to the game, but such miscalculations are overshadowed by his well-rounded skillset, his versatility, and, perhaps most importantly, his physicality, a combination which should make him a starter.

FS LAMARCUS JOYNER, FLORIDA ST.

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5’8” – 190 lbs. – 4.50e

STATISTICAL PROFILE:

2010: 23 – 0.0 – 0.0, 3 PD, 1 INT
2011: 54 – 2.0 – 1.0, 3 PD, 4 INT
2012: 51 – 1.5 – 0.0, 5 PD, 1 INT

OVERVIEW:

Appeared in all fourteen games as a freshman in a reserve cornerback role, contributing as a kick returner as well. Transitioned to safety in 2011 and started all thirteen games, earning second-team All-ACC honors while maintaining his kick return duties. Started all fourteen games at safety as a junior, then transitioned into a hybrid cornerback/safety role in 2013.

STRENGTHS:

•    Will graduate with three years of quality starting experience.
•    Has done a little bit of everything in the secondary at Florida St.
•    Physical player, willing to come up and make a hit on a ballcarrier.
•    Feisty, thickly-built, plays a little bit bigger than his size would suggest.
•    Fluid, when changing directions, and exhibits impressive closing burst.
•    Displays effective ball skills, soft hands when in position to make a play.
•    Aggressive with his angles in run support but usually in position.
•    Size deficiencies may be masked to some extent as a slot cornerback.
•    Unveiled a hidden penchant for rushing the passer as a senior.
•    Durable and has appeared in every game over his collegiate career.
•    Also contributes as a solid kick returner, had a good year in 2011.

WEAKNESSES:

•    At only 5’8”, will likely struggle against bigger pro receivers/tight ends.
•    Gives up a little bit too much separation, too often a step late in coverage.
•    Misses some tackles due to overaggressiveness or abandoning technique.
•    A little bit of a gambler overall, not the most conservative safety prospect.

SUMMARY:

There’s a lot to like about Joyner: he’s an experienced, physical, and aggressive defensive back who’s contributed as a safety, as a cornerback, and as a kick returner, with above-average athleticism and good ball skills. His diverse skillset should allow him to contribute in some capacity at the pro level, although he is not tall enough to cover tight ends and may not be conservative enough to make teams comfortable with him being their last line of defense. As a pro, he may ultimately end up as a slot corner. RD 3