NFL defensive schemes and roles are changing to accommodate more versatile, explosive players like Arizona’s hybrid Deone Bucannon and LA’s Mark Barron. Likewise in the 2016 NFL Draft, there is an exciting play maker with NFL blood lines (related to Jordan Cameron, Manti Te’o, and former Bengals great David Fulcher) that has some similarities to those hybrid players, former Trojan defender Su’a Cravens. I reviewed his 2015 games against Washington, Stanford, California, Notre Dame, and his 2014 game against Nebraska to get a better idea of the skills and attributes this young man will bring to the next level. Here are my thoughts:
Tag Archives: safeties
In the 2016 NFL Draft, there are four outstanding athletes at the top. Today I would like to discuss the best defensive back found in the draft, former Seminole Jalen Ramsey. There aren’t too many players that could be all-pros at two different positions, but Ramsey is one of them as he could play corner back or either safety position (strong or free). I reviewed several of his 2015 games against Boston College, NC State, Louisville, and Miami to get a better idea of the skills and attributes that this young man brings to the next level. These are my thoughts:
While this year’s draft class isn’t exactly brimming with safety talent, there is a little more out there than just Landon Collins. I decided to watch four of Fresno State’s Derron Smith’s games against Wyoming, Rutgers, USC, and Boise State to get a better idea of the skill set he brings to the NFL. The young safety is currently recovering from a sports hernia which kept him out of the NFL Combine. Here are my observations regarding his game play:
S Derron Smith, Fresno State, 5’ 10” 200 lbs.
Cons: His measurements, 5’ 10” and 200 pounds, make him at a disadvantage against NFL sized tight ends that will be bigger, stronger, and faster than him. Smith is not the most physical safety and lets blockers into his body. This makes it easier to account for him when the offense decides to run the ball. I thought he relied too much on his athletic ability to gamble. This caused him to over pursue or just be in the wrong place at the wrong time. Smith needs to become a better student of the game, understanding what the offense wants to do every play, instead of being instinctive.
One of the shallowest positions in this year’s draft is at safety. My top player is Alabama’s Landon Collins who might be the only one taken within the first two rounds of the NFL Draft, and might be the only safety worth drafting for your dynasty teams. I reviewed three of his games against Florida, Mississippi State, and Auburn to get a handle of the skills and attributes he brings to the next level. Here are my thoughts:
S Landon Collins, Alabama, 6’ 228 lbs.
Cons: At his current weight of 228 pounds, he might be a little too bulky and muscle-bound to play either safety position in the NFL. Collins will most likely play the strong safety position due to his physical style of play. The defender gets very hands in pass coverage and can over-react to fakes on occasion. He does make quite a few tackles on his back. While it is great that he continues to play even when on the ground, Collins needs to keep better balance and shed blockers a bit quicker to get to the ball carrier.
With the NFL Draft less than a month and a half away, there are plenty of players that many draftniks get excited about, but we aren’t quite sure how they will fit at the next level. One of those players is Washington’s Shaq Thompson. He got recruited as a safety and running back, but played much of his college career as a linebacker. I watched five of his games against BYU, UCLA, Stanford, Oregon State, and Illinois to get a feel for what skills he will bring to an NFL team. Much like NFLN’s Mike Mayock, I believe he could be a better strong safety than a linebacker. Scheme and coaching will make their mark too, but here is what I saw:
S/LB Shaq Thompson, Washington 6’ 228 lbs.
Cons: His size is that of a traditional NFL safety, not of a linebacker as he is more long and lean than stout and muscular. His timed forty at the Combine of 4.64 is not outstanding either, but well within a slower defensive back or slightly above average linebacker. My first concern is that he prefers to run around blocks instead of stepping up and shedding blockers. This extra time getting to the ball carrier might not be so costly in college, but it could be the difference between a two yard rush and a twenty yard play. Thompson makes about half of his tackles right around the ankles; it will be harder to bring down the best runners in the NFL that way. He is not strong at the point of attack and appears to absorb more force than he delivers. In pass coverage, the linebacker does well playing zone, but seems to struggle in man to man situations chasing someone all-round the field. Thompson has a little Troy Polomanu to his game with his gambling tendencies when he instinctively jumps gaps and/or launches himself towards targets when the outcome has not been decided.
It’s the final day in Indianapolis. NFL Network coverage starts to lag a little, because more people tune in for Rich Eisen’s forty time than they do to watch the defensive backs. This is definitely the day for hardcore dynasty owners and fans of Deon Sanders. Here are some quick observations of mine:
CB Jalen Collins, LSU
In fantasy football, there are some new trends that I enjoy writing about: dynasty leagues, and individual defensive player leagues. This weekly column will combine two of those by discussing two young IDPs. I will give my scouting thoughts on how they played a particular week. Today I will be discussing Jacksonville safety Jonathan Cyprien and the infamous San Diego linebacker Manti Te’o.
S-Jonathan Cyprien, JAX-This second year safety plays all over the Jacksonville defense as he lined up near the line of scrimmage like an outside backer, but also played some deep middle and off coverage on the opposing tight end. Cyprien flies around the field quickly using good tackling technique (either wraps the ankles or controls their hips). He doesn’t give up on plays and is solid in run support. With the improved play of the Jaguars linebackers, his tackle opportunities decreased. This shows against the Titans with only three tackles, an assist, and one pass defended.
In fantasy football, there are some new trends that I enjoy writing about: dynasty leagues, and individual defensive player leagues. This weekly column will combine two of those by discussing two young IDPs. I will give my scouting thoughts on how they played a particular week. Today I will be discussing the Jets linebacker Demario Davis and Saints safety Kenny Vaccaro.
LB-Demario Davis, NYJ- In Rex Ryan’s defense, the young linebacker got forced into lining up against various talented Patriots offense players: tight end Tim Wright, wide receiver Julian Edelman, and running back Shane Vereen in pass defense. Davis did not fare well against the tight end or wide receiver as he fell down a few times due to their suddenness versus his lack of quickness. I was quite surprised that Tom Brady did not go after the linebacker more as he was clearly a liability in the Jets weak pass defense. He did have some good battles with Vereen, but got beaten on the back’s second touchdown catch of the night.
My tour around the NFL’s best defensive fantasy impact rookies continues with the man of many hyphens: Ha-Ha Clinton-Dix. This former member of the Alabama Tide made quite the impact against a lot of high-powered teams during his college career and plans to continue his excellent level of play with the Green Bay Packers. To get a good idea of the skills Clinton-Dix brings, I reviewed four of his 2013 college games against some of the nation’s most powerful offenses in Texas A & M, Auburn, LSU, and Ole Miss. It was easy to see that the Packers got a steal in the first round, but will that make him a fantasy IDP superstar?
Let’s be honest, defensive backs, unless they get rewarded for return yardage, are like kickers because their value ties to their surrounding cast more than the real player. You want safeties that play with weaker linebackers so they can have more tackle opportunities and you want corner backs that play on teams either with good offenses or that have a stud cornerback on the other side. Every point counts on your fantasy teams, so make sure you get the best possible player you can.
1.Calvin Pryor, S, Jets
Not only is Pryor the hardest hitter in his class, he gets to play for Rex Ryan who will make sure the young safety gets himself in the best spot to make plays. Pryor won’t be asked to be in coverage much, so he can be an extra thumper near the line of scrimmage and might lead the Jets in tackles. He makes a great IDP from day one.
Sometimes with dynasty leagues, the idea of ranking rookie defensive backs is quite silly. More often than not, it is the opportunity that decides their value. NFL teams that have great scoring offenses usually give defensive backs more chances to make plays as the other team is playing behind and will be less conservative with the pigskin. This is my top ten pre-draft assessments of the defensive backs by talent and football IQ.
1.Calvin Pryor, S, Louisville
This safety is the hardest hitter in his class. He reads the field well with excellent vision and gets himself in the best spot to make plays. Pryor uses his physicality and seems to be a bit of a head hunter. He isn’t smooth in coverage and can fall for multiple move fakes. If Pryor ends up with a team that has weak linebackers, he might lead his team in tackles.