Each year are hundreds of stories being told during the planning and anticipation of the NFL Draft; the 2017 NFL Draft is no different. Today we will be looking at a scouting report for senior safety Xavier Woods, La Tech Bulldogs.
This year’s safety class is one of the deepest in quite some time. Sure, there are household names from big school like LSU’s Jamal Adams, Michigan’s Jabrill Peppers, and Ohio State’s Malik Hooker. Value is in the eyes of the beholder and it should be there for Xavier Woods in the NFL Draft and in your rookie IDP drafts too. Because I’m a high school football coach and educator by trade, let’s break down what I saw in the six games I reviewed of the junior play maker: this year’s East/West Shrine Game, 2016 contests versus Navy, Arkansas, and Western Kentucky along with 2015 games against Arkansas State and Mississippi State. Most of these game videos are available via draftbreakdown.com. These are my thoughts:
Cons: Woods is an aggressive player who can get caught over pursuing the ball carrier. This allows bigger blockers to wash him completely out of the play. He also has a tendency to tackle too high, which might not be an issue against lower level competition. However, against a well-balanced back or receiver, the safety might simply watch as the player slips right by him when he tries to tackle their shoulder pads. His battles against fellow 2017 classmate WKU receiver Taywan Taylor did not go his way. Woods fell for Taylor’s double moves and allowed the wideout to get behind him a few times for huge gains. He will need to be more reliant on technique at the next level versus his athleticism.
Pros: The former Bulldog can line up opposite the slot receiver, as a free safety, or ten yards back hanging over the outside shoulder of the tight end. He does a great job keying the quarterback’s eyes, while also seeing the entire field and exploding to the ball in pass protection or run support. Woods rushes the signal caller occasionally as he finished with three sacks this past season. The defensive back takes good angles against the run and is a strong open field tackler. He drops back effortlessly into coverage, tracks the ball well in the air, and has the natural leaping ability to get to the ball before the receivers sometimes. Woods had five picks his senior season using good concentration and a “my ball” attitude.
Overall impressions: This fast twitched athletic defender should see plenty of action in the pass-first NFL. He is a gambler who will get targeted when he is on the field. The question is will he be able to make the quarterbacks and offensive coordinators pay for this attention? At his price tag (last round of your rookie draft), way after Adams, Peppers, and Hooker, Woods will be a good value for a ball hawking rookie.
Thanks for reading. I will continue to discuss my scouting reports with you throughout the next few weeks, so keep checking the site for more content. Please check out my other content as well. You can also follow me on Twitter @AndrewMiley.