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Mailbag: Thoughts On Xavier Woods? How To Best Use The Safeties?

I've been reading a lot about the rookie defensive backs and their performances in the offseason programs, but I haven't heard a lot about Xavier Woods. Has he shown any potential to be a late-round steal?

Bryan: Woods hadn't made any huge mistakes which is good. Where he's going to show up is when they get in pads and have periods where they work one-on-one. Preseason games are going to help him too. 

David:I honestly didn't see him flash much during OTAs, but that's a bit challenging for a safety. There weren't many one-on-one or compete opportunities like there are in training camp, and you aren't allowed to make contact. I'm not expecting the guy to be a rookie starter, but he should have a chance to show off in camp.

I wouldn't call Jeff Heath a ball hawk yet, but playing zone coverage seems to put him in the best position to make plays. Byron Jones' best trait on the other hand is his ability to match-up in man coverage against big/athletic TE's. Considering each player's best skill, and the fact that both are similarly good tacklers, wouldn´t it make more sense to play Heath at FS and Jones at SS?

Bryan: The safeties in this scheme are interchangeable. You have to be able to play both spots. With that being said, I do believe you'll see Jones down more than Heath and that's because of the coverage. 

David:Yeah, I don't look at the safety spots as significantly different. Where I am curious is to see how exactly the deploy everybody. Like you said, Byron is great when he's matching up with tight ends – and that might take him out of the box on occasion. We saw the coaches have good success using three safeties in a lot of situations last year. I bet we'll see that again with Byron, Heath and someone else – Kavon Frazier, Robert Blanton or Xavier Woods.

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