NEPD Staff Writer: Mike Gerken
I am not going to lie to any of you. I don’t like scouting the safety positions at all. First off, without access to all-22 film, it is really hard to see where and how these players are lining up. This also makes it difficult to figure out what scheme they may be running and what their responsibilities are from play to play. From there, you can watch an entire game and that safety prospect may have only been involved in a handful of plays. This all adds up to a time consuming position that remains unclear if you can find enough tape on players to feel comfortable writing about. That being said, I have done my best to sift through and find some players that are good fits for the Patriots.
Current Roster: FS-Devin McCourty, Nate Ebner
SS-Patrick Chung, Duron Harmon, Tavon Wilson
Position need: Medium to Low
With the Patriots resigning Devin McCourty this offseason, they bring back their starting duo at both safety positions. Patrick Chung had a resurgence to his career after he struggled in his first go around with the Patriots. Duron Harmon saw his role expand somewhat this past season, but both he and Tavon Wilson have not lived up to their draft pick status. I don’t think drafting a safety is a huge need for the team, but I could see the Patriots addressing the position in day 2 or 3 of the draft. The team could be looking for a better option to back up Devin McCourty if something should happen to him, or they could look at options for Chung should he regress. Overall this draft class is weak and I expect teams to reach for players. The Patriots have left many of us scratching our heads when it comes to the guys they have drafted at the position, but maybe this year will be different. (yeah right!)
Draftable Options, FS:
Damarious Randall, Arizona State (5’11”, 196 Lbs.) Late 2nd/Early 3rd
Randall has impressive speed and is very aggressive. He plays much bigger than his size would indicate. He shows good movement, footwork and cover skills to play free safety in the NFL. Can be too aggressive at times and will bite on play fakes and double moves. Loves to hit but needs to wrap up better when making tackles. Randall gets his hands on a lot of balls, but doesn’t always finish the play.
Adrian Amos, Penn State (6’0″, 218 Lbs.) 4th round
Amos has a nice combination of size and speed. He moves in and out of his breaks well and even played some slot corner in college. Not real interested in coming up and making tackles in run support and will need to change his attitude on that aspect of the game if he wants play meaningful minutes. Amos is a smart player and team leader, which the Patriots will like.
Derron Smith, Fresno State (5’10”, 200 Lbs.) 4th round
Smith is a fluid mover with good awareness and instincts. He had 14 career interceptions and has great hands. Smith is not overly physical and takes bad angles when coming up in run support. He needs to add some bulk to his frame and injury concerns are an issue. He does have some punt return abilities which could be valuable to the Patriots. He is a very good coverage safety and has the athleticism and movement skills to play some man coverage.
Cody Prewitt, Ole Miss (6’2″, 208 Lbs.) 5th round
see my write up from earlier this year. http://www.nepatriotsdraft.com/2014/11/scouting-report-cody-prewitt-s.html
Chris Hackett, TCU (6’0″, 195 Lbs.) 6th/7th round
Hackett might be one of the better values come draft day. He did not test well at all at the combine which was surprising after watching his tape. He has good instincts and movement skills which help make up for his below average long speed. Hackett played some slot corner in college so he does have some versatility to his game. Needs to bulk up to play in the NFL. Hackett has good hands(12 career interceptions) and does a nice job winning contested balls.
Nick Parry, Alabama (6’0″, 205 Lbs.)
Tevin McDonald, Eastern Washington (5’11”, 193 Lbs.)
Draftable Options, SS:
Jaquiski Tartt, Samford (6’1″, 221 Lbs.) 3rd round
Tartt comes from a small school, but has one of the most NFL ready bodies at the position. He has long arms and is put together like a prototypical strong safety. He is a hard worker and a film junkie, which the Patriots should appreciate. Tartt does not shy away from contact and is a good form tackler who also can make the big hit. He looks like he may be thinking rather than reacting at times which creates false steps and missed opportunities to make plays. There could be some transition time needed, but he flashes big time potential and has the work ethic to get there. Tartt is a very intriguing prospect who may have only scratched the surface of his potential
James Sample, Louisville (6’2″, 209 Lbs.) 4th round
Sample is a big in the box safety that has very good speed. He does not have a ton of experience and it shows up on tape. He lacks instincts but showed improvement throughout the season. Sample looks for contact and is always wanting to make the big hit. He needs to work on becoming a better tackler rather than a hitter. If he can improve his coverage skills, Sample could become a special player because of his size and speed. He had a significant injury in the past (torn labrum) but seems to be fully recovered.
Clayton Geathers, UCF (6’1″, 218 Lbs.) 6th round
Geathers is an aggressive safety with above average speed and size. He looks for contact and is one of the better tackling safeties in the class coming up and playing the run. He was a team captain and has multiple family members in the NFL. Geathers will struggle with quicker receivers as he lacks the quick movement skills to stay with them. He should be able to use his size and speed to cover the tight end. Geathers needs to work on his pursuit angles and keeping his eyes up when playing in traffic.
Cassius Sendish, Kansas (5’11”, 196 Lbs.)
Dean Marlowe, James Madison (6’1″, 203 Lbs.)
Jacob Hagen, Liberty (6’2″, 207 Lbs.)
as always, you can follow me on twitter @midwestpatsfan