5. Eric Weddle, S Utah 5-11, 205 (4.55)
NFL Comparison - Mike Brown, Chicago
You have to love a player like Weddle. He isn't overly big, fast or physical, yet he constantly makes plays and always seems to be in the right position. Has won a ton of awards including Freshman All America, Mountain West Defensive Player of the Year in 2006 and 2007. All-American 2007. He's played virtually every position - CB, S, RB and was a punt and kick returner. He even held on field goals and PATs. He also scored eight total touchdowns and is tough as nails. He was exposed a bit at the Senior Bowl where it was obvious he couldn't match up one-on-one vs. the better receivers. He's athletic, but stiff in the hips and didn't change direction well. Despite his array of positions, I think his best fit is as a safety in the NFL.
Against the Pass -
Has good instincts and reads the quarterback well. Makes plays on the ball and attacks it in flight. Has good hands and ball skills. Has stiff hips and shouldn't be asked to play man coverage at the next level. Weddle's lack of man-to-man skills won't be exposed as a safety and he could flourish there because of his awareness.
Against the Run -
Plays the run like a linebacker, exploding into the ball-carrier and wraps up well. Has intensity and takes good angles in pursuit. Doesn't have great size, but has stayed relatively injury-free.
Roster Impact for Seattle -
Weddle's best fit would be at strong safety, where he'd have to show more playmaking ability and coverage awareness than Michael Boulware. He also had success as a return man in college and while I don't think he will have the same results in the NFL, it's certainly a bonus that he can do it if needed. Weddle's immediate impact would probably be as a special teams player or nickel defender with the potential to start at strong safety.
Draft Projection -
Weddle grades out as a third-round pick, but some team could fall in love with him and take him higher. He's certainly a favorite of scouts (how can you not be?) and with strong personal workouts, Weddle could sneak into the second round.
Final Analysis -
Despite his lack of elite athleticism, Weddle's resume is hard to ignore. He plays hard and does everything the coaches ask of him. Weddle's a player that gets the most out of his skills and excels by using his instincts and awareness. He should stick in the NFL because of his versatility, passion for the game and ability to play special teams.
Here are the three other safety previews we've done so far...
LSU S LaRon Landry
Florida S Reggie Nelson
Texas S Michael Griffin
Miami S Brandon Meriweather
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.NET Draft 2007: Utah S Eric Weddle
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