Scouting the '06 Draft: Safeties

Tough, physical safeties who strengthen a defense up the middle are back on the priority list of NFL teams. Franchises seek out versatile centerfielders who can cover the pass or defend the run. It looks as though several prospects of that type will be available in April's draft.

Full Name: Jason Allen         School: Tennessee

Ht: 6-2     Wt: 200     40: 4.51     Yr: 4Sr

Pos: Versatile defensive back outstanding in both run defense and pass coverage. Fast sideline-to-sideline, takes good angles to the action and relatively instinctive. Reads the quarterback and stays with assignments in coverage. Possesses a burst of closing speed and quick up the field in support of run defense or screen plays.

Neg: Does a bit of grab tackling and will knock down rather than wrap up. Suffered a major hip injury during the month of October and presently on the sidelines.

Analysis: A defensive back who could be used at safety or cornerback, Allen is a solid athlete who possesses natural skills. The health of his hip could ultimately decide where he is selected next April. If no red flags pop up a potential top-45 selection.

Full Name: Darnell Bing         School: USC

Ht: 6-1.5     Wt: 220     40: 4.58     Yr: 3Jr

Pos: Explosive safety who plays with a great degree of suddenness. Reads the quarterback, remains disciplined and quickly breaks to the action. Flashes on the scene when he makes his move to the ball. Can deliver the knockout blow.

Neg: Does not wrap up tackling and does a lot of "knocking down".

Analysis: Possessing outstanding size\speed numbers, Bing consistently puts himself in a position to make a play on the ball. Has limitations in coverage yet could quickly develop into an NFL starter in the right system.

Full Name: Greg Blue         School: Georgia

Ht: 6-2     Wt: 211     40: 4.44     Yr: 5Sr

Pos: Explosive athlete who lays down the knockout blow against opponents. Fast up the field, hard hitting and aggressive. Likes to mix it up and flashes on the scene. Fluid in his hips and occasionally displays skill in coverage.

Neg: Does more hitting than wrap up tackling. Must learn to take better angles to the action. Needs to improve his cover skills.

Analysis: Possessing outstanding computer numbers, Blue offers great upside potential for the next level. Needs to improve his overall game and become more consistent yet should get looks in the late part of the draft's first day.

Full Name: Darrell Brooks         School: Arizona

Ht: 6-0.5     Wt: 199     40: 4.55     Yr: 5Sr

Pos: Physical safety with a well-rounded game. Reads the action, diagnoses plays and offers a nice feel for coverage. Works well with cornerbacks and does a solid job with assignments. Has a burst of speed to the play and flashes on the scene. Finds the ball in the air, nicely anticipates defenses and has a good move to the pass.

Neg: Not strong at the point and has tackles broken. Inefficient and does not consistently take good the best angles to the action.

Analysis: A solid in mid-round prospect next April, Brooks lacks great upside yet is a reliable in all areas of the game. Offers potential in a variety of NFL systems and could eventually develop into a starter at the next level.

Full Name: Daniel Bullocks         School: Nebraska

Ht: 6-0     Wt: 205     40: 4.51     Yr: 5Sr

Pos: Solid run defending safety best covering the pass in zone. Picks up assignments, patrols center field and gets vertical to defend the ball. Displays a sense of timing and anticipation. Possesses a burst to the action. Works well with quarterbacks. Wraps up in run support.

Neg: Struggles in man-to-man coverage and not quick transitioning. Marginally effective on the blitz. Tends to gather into tackles.

Analysis: A potential two deep zone safety, Bullocks offers solid skills for the next level. Not as polished or versatile as his brother yet a solid middle frame pick next April.

Full Name: Roman Harper         School: Alabama

Ht: 6-0     Wt: 196     40: 4.62     Yr: 5Sr

Pos: Instinctive defensive back with a good feel for coverage. Fluid backpedaling off the line, displays a quick break to the throw and takes good angles to the action. Slides off blocks, helps out in run support and wraps up tackling. Keeps the action in front of him and works well with cornerbacks. Solid ball skills.

Neg: Possesses an average burst of closing and recovery speed. Lacks great range.

Analysis: A prospect who understands the game, Harper is efficient and does a solid job with his responsibilities. Does not possess great upside yet a prospect who can be productive in the NFL.

Full Name: Marcus Hudson         School: North Carolina

Ht: 6-1.5     Wt: 200     40: 4.55     Yr: 5Sr

Pos: Intelligent football player with solid ball skills. Takes good angles to the action, displays a burst of closing speed and keeps the action in front of him. Effective on the blitz and helps out in run support.

Neg: Does more chasing then covering in man situations and slow locating the ball. Lacks great recovery speed.

Analysis: Reliable and consistent, Hudson is a fringe first day pick next April who nicely fits in as a two deep safety.

Full Name: Michael Huff         School: Texas

Ht: 6-0     Wt: 190     40: 4.51     Yr: 5Sr

Pos: Talented defensive back who can be used at a variety of positions. Reads the quarterback, quickly picks up assignments and displays outstanding ball skills as well hands for the pick. Takes good angles to the action, efficient and displays a burst of closing speed. Instinctive and at the same time can recover. Solid footwork in every direction of the field. Displays a good break to the throw. Does an outstanding job positioning himself against opponents to defend the pass. Consistently keeps the action in front of him.

Neg: Used at safety for the Longhorns yet lacks top size for centerfield.

Analysis:  An intelligent football player with outstanding cover skills, Huff could easily make the transition to cornerback at the next level. Underrated and could sneak into the late part of round one next April.

Full Name: Brian Iwuh         School: Colorado

Ht: 5-11     Wt: 226     40: 4.66     Yr: 4Sr

Pos: Explosive collegiate linebacker who projects to strong safety in the NFL. Athletic, hard hitting and looks to deliver the knockout blow. Fast on the blitz, forces the action and wraps up tackling. Solid special teams player. Strong and defeats blocks. Displays a good head for the ball.

Neg: Usually best playing downhill or in the box. Marginal skill in space. 

Analysis: Possessing outstanding computer numbers, Iwuh has the physical makings of big-time strong safety. An top athlete, he must learn the position and improve his playmaking ability in space.

Full Name: LaRon Landry         School: LSU

Ht: 6-1.5     Wt: 190     40: 4.55     Yr: 3Jr

Pos: Athletic defensive back who displays explosion on the field. Disciplined in coverage, keeps the action in front of him and quick closing to the ball.  Very productive on the college field.

Neg: Lacks top size for the centerfield position.

Analysis: A versatile defensive back with solid size\speed numbers, Landry could be used in a variety of systems. May ultimately wind up at cornerback and also has potential covering the slot receiver in nickel situations as a safety.

Full Name: Dawan Landry         School: Georgia Tech

Ht: 6-1    Wt: 217    40: 4.59    Yr: 5Sr

Pos: Active safety constantly around the ball. Quickly diagnoses the action, takes good angles to the play and fires up the field in run support. Mentally alert, flies around the football and wraps up tackling. Does not make mental mistakes. Possesses a solid burst of closing speed.

Neg: Struggles in man coverage. Average playing strength and has tackles broken. Occasionally does more grabbing then wrapping up.

Analysis: A reliable player in the secondary, Landry would be a good fit in a two deep zone system. Fringe first day pick next April.

Full Name: Brandon Meriweather         School: Miami-Fl

Ht: 6-0    Wt: 185    40: 4.49     Yr: 3Jr

Pos: Improving safety who flashes great skill and better consistency. Effective in zone coverage, displays an excellent break to the throw and a burst of closing speed. Picks up assignments, does not make mental mistakes and works to get involved. Wraps up tackling.

Neg: Not strong at the point and easily blocked from the play. Must improve his cover techniques as he gets turned and constantly trails opponents. Not efficient and takes poor angles the action.

Analysis: Finally settling into a starting role, Meriweather is beginning to pull together a complete game. Solid athlete yet needs to brush off the rough edges. Potential first day pick when he enters the draft.

Full Name: Jarrad Page         School: UCLA

Ht: 6-2    Wt: 220    40: 4.61    Yr: 4Sr

Pos: Nice sized safety with potential in a zone system. Instinctive, has a burst of closing speed and displays good ball skills. Immediately breaks to the throw and gets vertical or adjusts in midair to defend the pass. Top sideline-to-sideline range and speed. Not afraid to give it up in run support and flashes on the scene. Remains disciplined with assignments and works well with cornerbacks.

Neg: Not overly efficient and takes a lot of missteps. Struggles in man coverage. Tends to arm tackle.

Analysis: A top athlete, Page has been a productive player since his sophomore campaign with the Bruins. Possesses the skills needed to develop into an NFL starter. Best in a zone system or solely as a strong safety.

Full Name: Charlie Peprah         School: Alabama

Ht: 5-11    Wt: 203    40: 4.56    Yr: 5Sr

Pos: Good sized defensive back productive on the college level. Quick up the field in run defense, takes good angles to the action and stays with assignments. Reads the play, disciplined and wraps up at the point.

Neg: Marginal playing speed. Average instincts.

Analysis: A consistent performer, Peprah projects nicely into the middle rounds of next April's draft. Potential backup at the next level who can be used in nickel or dime coverage.

Full Name: Josh Powell         School: San Jose State

Ht: 6-1.5     Wt: 209     40: 4.65    Yr: 5Sr

Pos: Fierce, hard hitting safety with a good feel for the game. Keeps the action in front of him, remains disciplined and stays with assignments. Works well with teammates. Good sideline-to-sideline range. Fast up the field and aggressive in run support. Displays skills in zone coverage.

Neg: Marginal man-coverage abilities. Average top end speed.

Analysis: A consistent player at San Jose State, Powell has been reliable and rarely makes mental mistakes. Potential late round choice next April who could be used in a zone system or as a conventional strong safety.

Full Name: Nate Salley         School: Ohio State

Ht: 6-1.5     Wt: 218     40: 4.61     Yr: 4Sr

Pos: Nice sized centerfielder best defending the run. Displays awareness in coverage, quickly picks up screenplays and works well with cornerbacks. Aggressive yet at the same time plays smart football.

Neg: Marginal skills in man-to-man coverage. Lacks top range.

Analysis: Possessing nice size, Sally would be solid in a two-deep system or can be used as a conventional strong safety.

Full Name: Anthony Smith         School: Syracuse

Ht: 5-11.5    Wt: 194     40: 4.59     Yr: 4Sr

Pos: Explosive safety who plays with a great degree of suddenness. Does an excellent job patrolling centerfield, makes plays sideline-to-sideline and fast closing to the action. Possesses a nice move to the ball and has a feel for coverage. Tough and plays injured. Works to get off blocks and supports the run. Outstanding special teams player. Constantly around the action.

Neg: Marginal size\speed numbers. Not strong at the point and has tackles broken. Occasionally bites on the play action pass.

Analysis: Smart and dependable, Smith is a true leader on the football field, making plays in a variety of ways. Possesses ordinary upside for the next level yet could nicely fit in as a nickel or dime back.

Full Name: Wesley Smith         School: Memphis

Ht: 6-2    Wt: 190     40: 4.61     Yr: 3Jr

Pos: Explosive safety best in run defense. Fierce moving up the field, hard hitting and lays his shoulders into opponents. Strong at the point, always willing to get involved in the action and rarely off his feet. Displays adequate range, does a good job patrolling center field and keeps the action in front of him.

Neg: Not efficient and takes incorrect angles to the action. Struggles in man situations and slow transitioning to run with opponents.

Analysis: A nice sized player that would do well in zone situations, Smith looks like the next top defensive back out of the Memphis program.

Full Name: Pat Watkins         School: Florida State

Ht: 6-4.5     Wt: 202     40: 4.47     Yr: 4Sr

Pos: Explosive safety with outstanding sideline-to-sideline range. Displays awareness in coverage, keeps the action in front of him and quickly changes direction. Forceful up the field in run defense, very aggressive and works to lay the knockout blow. Takes good angles to the play. Strong at the point.

Neg: Adequate yet not great skill in man coverage. Occasionally gets turned. Has tackles broken.

Analysis: An athletic prospect that's been productive on the college field, Watkins is a multipurpose defensive back and a nice fit for several systems at the next level.

Full Name: Jimmy Williams         School: Virginia Tech

Ht: 6-2     Wt: 209     40: 4.47     Yr: 4Sr

Pos: Big, physical defensive back who can be lined up at cornerback or safety. Strong, jams receivers at the line and slows their release from the snap of the ball.  Out-muscles or out-positions opponents to defend the throw. Solid job reading receivers eyes then getting his head back. Fluid transitioning to run with opponents and displays good footwork in all directions of the field. Possesses closing and recovery speed. 

Neg: Prefers to side shuffle in reverse. Does not quickly plant or break to the throw and has difficulty staying with receivers out of routes. Does not always display great awareness or a sense of where he is on the field. Hesitant locating the pass in man coverage.

Analysis: A top defensive back the past three years, Williams has been interchangeable with his ability to play several positions in the secondary. His size and aggressiveness coupled with the fact Williams is best making plays facing the quarterback, lends us to believe his top NFL position will be safety.

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