NFL Combine: Safeties – What Do They Need To Prove?

    Who are the best safeties going into the NFL Combine, and what do they need to prove in Indianapolis?

    February 17, 2016

    Who are the best safeties going into the NFL Combine, and what do they need to prove in Indianapolis?


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    1. Vonn Bell, Ohio State

    Pre-Combine Draft Projection: Second Round

    What He Needs To Prove

    – Is there first round potential there? Everyone is desperate for a safety, and everyone needs someone who can do a little bit of everything for a secondary, and Bell has the skills to be just good enough to be a starter. Now he has to look like a great one.

    – No one is going to see him as a thumper, so he has to make up for it with extreme athleticism. The workout has to be eye-popping. The numbers are going be a big deal.

    – How good is he through the cones and short drills? Does he have the cutting ability at an elite level and can he play a variety of positions? That shouldn’t be a problem.

    2. Karl Joseph, West Virginia

    Pre-Combine Draft Projection:

    What He Needs To Prove

    – Is his knee okay? He’s a huge hitter and a great prospect as a run stopper and ball hawker, but the knee injury suffered this season is going to be an issue for a little while. How fast can he get back up to speed?

    – What can he do? The whiteboard will be what the GMs and scouts want to see – they want to see how much of a possible quarterback he can be for an NFL secondary. The hitting ability is there when he’s healthy, but he’s at his best when he’s allowed to make plays.

    – How does he measure? Ideally he checks in at around 205 with room to add more weight, but he’s probably going to be more like 195. Considering his style, he needs to be built to hold up.

    3. Darian Thompson, Boise State

    Pre-Combine Draft Projection: Second Round

    What He Needs To Prove

    – How smooth is he? He’s not necessarily going to be a strong safety or a big hitter, so he has to look like an athlete free safety or nickel defender. He might not have the fluidity to be what the scouts are looking for.

    – He has to be great on the white board. He takes a lot of chances and usually gets away with it, and he’ll get to freelance a bit at the next level. He has to prove to the GMs and scouts in the interviews that he can handle the responsibility.

    – Can he show the potential to be a versatile safety? He has great size and the right measurables, and now the workout has to shine through to generate more of a buzz.

    4. Keanu Neal, Florida

    Pre-Combine Draft Projection: Third Round

    What He Needs To Prove

    – He needs to be quicker than fast. The 40 time always matters for defensive backs, but as long as he’s able to look smooth and athletic through the short drills, his stock will rise.

    – More of a big popper than an all-over-the-field defensive back, if there’s a way to show off his power and strength, he’ll stand out.

    – What are his splits? As long as he has a good burst out of the box, he might be able to prove just how explosive he can be. As long as he doesn’t seem stiff, he’ll be fine.

    5. Jeremy Cash, Duke

    Pre-Combine Draft Projection:

    What He Needs To Prove

    – The tools have to match the tape. Ultra-productive – he was one of college football’s best defensive backs over the last few years – now he needs to rip off the big runs and come up with the big performances in Indy.

    – Just how smooth is he? While he might not be the best-looking athlete, he just can’t look clunky. Everyone knows he can hit, but can he run and move like an NFL defensive back?

    – Is his arm okay? He missed time late in the season with a broken wrist, and while it’s not supposed to be a problem, it’s a concern.

    6. Sean Davis, Maryland

    Pre-Combine Draft Projection: Third Round

    What He Needs To Prove

    – Is he really a safety or is he going to end up as a corner? He’s going to workout with the corners, but with his size and skills, teams are going to want him as a safety. The versatility will be the key to his status.

    – He’s going to pass the eye test, and now he has to rip through the drills to make up for a bad tape. He’s not a corner in coverage, and he’s not really a safety in terms of hitting ability. He needs to find a home.

    – What’s his burst like? The short drills and the splits in the 40 will be the key. He’s a better hitter than a coverman, but he could move up as a versatile option if his times are explosive.

    7. Miles Killebrew, Southern Utah

    Pre-Combine Draft Projection: Third Round

    What He Needs To Prove

    – Does he look like the guys from the bigger schools? No … he’s bigger. Large for a defensive back and with the right body, he’s sort of a tweener, but he needs to appear like an NFL safety when he starts running.

    – Really, really fast, he has to live up to expectations. Everyone will be talking about his rocked up body, and if he puts up a 4.5, look out. If he goes under, he’ll blow up the Combine and have the scouts scrambling for more tape.

    – Can he cut? His straight-line speed will be great, and everything else will be fine, but just how smooth is he through the drills?

    8. Tyvis Powell, Ohio State

    Pre-Combine Draft Projection: Third Round

    What He Needs To Prove

    – The size is there and the body is right, but just how much can he move? He’s a good runner in pursuit, but does the tape translate to the workout? He was more than athletic enough for college, but now the Indy numbers need to be there.

    – The interview process will be important. If it’s possible to be a big-hitting finesse player, that’s Powell. He’s functional, but he’s not a blowup tackler. That’s not a horrible thing, but can he get scouts to think he can be an intimidating force?

    – A very smart player and the type of guy teams will want to have, he should be tremendous in the interview portion. He should stand out and become a player scouts stump for.

    9. Jayron Kearse, Clemson

    Pre-Combine Draft Projection: Third Round

    What He Needs To Prove

    – Really, really tall and really, really big, as the wheels there to match the size? Can he move like a smaller defensive back? Can he cut and flip the hips like he’ll need to? He’s intriguing because of his size, but he needs to look the part.

    – He needs to fly through the drills. While he’s productive on the field and he’s always coming up with plays, it’s almost like he makes it look too easy. He needs to somehow come across as a fiery leader – even if that’s not really his game.

    – The interview is going to be the key. Does he really want to work wherever needed to become a very good, very productive versatile player? It’s going to take some creativity to figure out what to do with him, and he was willing to move around at Clemson, but he needs to grow into more of a must-have type.

    10. DeAndre Houston-Carson, William & Mary

    Pre-Combine Draft Projection: Third Round

    What He Needs To Prove

    – A terrific leader and producer, that has to come through somehow in the interviews and through the drills. Even though he’s from an FCS team, there’s a chance he becomes a ring leader. Scouts and coaches notice that.

    – Can he fly? He’s not a big safety, but he’s a smart one who’s always in the right spot. Now he needs to come up with some good times to match the other tools.

    – Can he add more bulk? He might need to get up to 215 pounds to be at his most effective, and that could take some work.

    Other Safeties Invited To The Combine (alphabetically)

    Deon Bush, Miami
    Tevin Carter, Utah
    K J Dillon, West Virginia
    Kavon Frazier, Central Michigan
    T J Green, Clemson
    Miles Killebrew, Southern Utah
    Derrick Kindred, TCU
    Jordan Lomax, Iowa
    Jordan Lucas, Penn State
    Jalen Mills, LSU (seen as a CB)
    Elijah Shumate, Notre Dame
    Justin Simmons, Boston College
    A J Stamps, Kentucky

    MORE: Ranking Quarterbacks Ahead Of NFL Combine

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