Today in our position series, we shift the focus to a handful of safeties in this draft that aren't getting much publicity but should be on the radar.
· Phillip Thomas Fresno State
I got the wrong impression of him earlier when I did his film work because of how poorly he played against Oregon, but studying some other games, he did a much better job of tackling and playing the ball down the field. In the Oregon contest, he didn't play with quickness or burst. He missed several tackles in space with one of those resulting in a touchdown. Didn't do a good enough job in coverage playing the switch route as well, but later against Boise he did a much better job of playing the ball down the field. He showed better awareness and focus on his job. Against Colorado, he was able to drive on routes and make plays on the ball. Was able to stay in position with the receiver and create turnovers. Did a much better job of wrapping up and making tackles. Took better angles on the goal line, wasn't out of position. Awareness to defend the screen. Would be a fit in this scheme as a free safety.
· D. J. Swearinger South Carolina
The type of player that will drive you mad with the way he plays because he can be wildly inconsistent but when he is on, he makes plays. Like Vaccaro can cover down the in the slot. Is a very chippy player when it comes to his approach to the game. Is always in the opponents face after each play. Emotional personality. Will come forward to wrap up in space but there are also times where he comes forward and like Elam where he is a block down tackler. Really nice reactions to routes. Did an outstanding job of playing the slant against Georgia. Quick transition from center field in the same game. Got turned around in the Clemson game. Didn't drive on the ball in this game as I had seen before. Showed me he can once again play with some range on the backend, going from the left hash to the right corner of the end zone. Didn't see a great blitzer even though I have seen him use his hands to get off blockers. Awareness to help when coverage was busted against LSU when they tried to run the fade on them. Have seen him be a selective tackler at times then the next chance go for the blow up shot.
· J.J. Wilcox Georgia Southern
[embedded_ad] On film is built like a linebacker with a thick lower body. Comes down hill in a hurry. Over ran a couple of tackles in space but overall is a physical hitter. Not afraid to be a part of the attack. Takes a little time to transition out of his pedal. Has some shock when he makes a tackle. Will avoid blockers. Can stay with his man in coverage. Is a better player when coming forward than going back but when he sees it, he will get after it. Can carry the tight end up the field. Can cover some ground out of his break. Plays with huge effort and a nose for the ball. Did not look out of place in the Senior Bowl. Matched up well when he got the opportunity. Was a kickoff return man as well, averaged over 25 yards a return in 2012. Fits more in the role of a strong safety than free because of the way he is physically built. Most impressive trait he has is his ability to deliver a blow.
· Don Jones Arkansas State
Is a wrap up tackler. Breaks on the ball well. Chases the play well. Is a willing hitter but missed some in space. Did a nice job of taking on blockers. Shows very nice reactions for the backend. Knows how to maintain leverage and play with it. Good hands for interception. Awareness to play the route and get in position to make the play. Can cover across the field. Does a nice job of working through the traffic and not losing track of his man. Struggled a little bit adjusting to the ball when it went down the field over his head but wasn't a major problem but it did happen, didn't look like he found it. Not afraid to deliver a blow when tackling. Late round player with solid traits for the position, should be on the draft board for a consideration.