S Thomas DeCoud (6-2, 204) – California
Strengths: DeCoud is an outstanding natural athlete and has been timed at 4.55 in the 40-yard dash. Has good size for the position, most notably his long arms that allow him to break up passes down the field. A physical player close to the line of scrimmage, he has a reputation as a quality run defender with an aggressive streak. Has experience at both safety and cornerback, so he has very good range and above-average coverage ability in space. Also excelled on special teams during his collegiate career.
Weaknesses: Doesn't have blazing straight-line speed. Not a very instinctual player. Tends to play a little high, which leads to poor tackling. Ball skills are average at best, and his hands are suspect. Somewhat light for the position and will have to get stronger in the weight room, plus he's still learning and considered quite raw.Projection: Second or third round.
S Thomas DeCoud
Marcio Jose Sanchez/AP Images
Highlights: Honorable mention All-Pac-10 selection as a senior. Led the team with 116 tackles, which was also fourth in the conference. Six double-digit tackle games in 2007 and eight total in his career. Finished strong with 49 tackles in his last four games. Invited to the 2008 Senior Bowl. Voted the team's defensive MVP. Six career blocked kicks on special teams. Earned Andy Smith Award for seeing the most playing time and the Cort Majors Award as team captain. Named the team's Most Improved Player after his junior season. The No. 6 safety prospect in the nation according to ESPN's Mel Kiper Jr.
JC's Take: Based on what I'm hearing about DeCoud, he sounds a lot like Danieal Manning version 2.0. I'm a believer in Manning's ability and still think he can be a very good safety one day, although he's much more athlete than football player at this point. He should have a better opportunity to improve in 2008 since he won't be jerked back and forth between safety and cornerback like he was last year, which turned out to be a colossal mistake that perhaps damaged his psyche. The Pac-10 has a reputation as more of a finesse league, but DeCoud sounds like a pretty physical player who doesn't mind contact in the box – a necessity for a Cover-2 safety. While he could slide into the second round especially if he tests well at the NFL Combine, he'd be a much wiser choice in Round 3.
John Crist is the Publisher of Bear Report and a member of the Professional Football Writers of America. To read him every day, visit BearReport.com and become a Chicago Bears insider.