The all-star circuit is upon us! After we send 5 staff members to the Shrine Game in St. Petersburg, our entire staff is heading to Mobile for the 2019 Senior Bowl.
To get you ready, we continue to preview the prospects slated to participate at the Senior Bowl, today looking at the safeties.
Juan Thornhill, Virginia
An uber-productive 5-star recruit for the Cavaliers defense, Thornhill has experience playing corner and safety, and will look to dominate the coverage reps accordingly. With six interceptions this season (3rd in NCAA), Thornhill’s ball skills are the trait that impresses teams most. He’s a Top-50 player with fringe Round 1 ability.
Nasir Adderley, Delaware
Adderley is also a Top-50 player with fringe Round 1 ability as well — but he has more to prove, coming from an FCS program with the Blue Hens. Adderley also boasts of that CB/S versatility in his background, like Thornhill, but he brings better physical tools to the table in terms of long speed and change of direction. Adderley is the highest-ceiling player of the group who will likely leave Mobile as the top-ranked safety from the class.
Marquise Blair, Utah
Super long and with good speed, Blair’s a hitter from Utah and enjoys the name recognition coming from a program that has produced good DBs in recent years. Less of a natural cover man and more of a centerfielder, Blair’s poor ball production over two seasons with the Utes (2 INTs, 4 PBUs) does stand out poorly. How is his timing, his aggressiveness addressing the football? Blair has length, but can he use it?
Mike Edwards, Kentucky
Hold this, from Senior Bowl head honcho Jim Nagy, on Mike Edwards
.@UKFootball FS/CB #7 Mike Edwards is a good football player. While he’s not the same level of prospect as his guy @Mathieu_Era there are similarities in the skill-sets. We like Edwards at nickel but FS flex adds value. No shame in being called a lesser version of honey badger. pic.twitter.com/YQ0yxK1eGr
— Jim Nagy (@JimNagy_SB) October 27, 2018
Like Jim said: ain’t nothing wrong with being a knock-off Honey Badger. Edwards was a move piece for the Wildcats all year, and of the three DBs from Kentucky who are making the trip to Mobile, I think Edwards will be the highest ranked player. His athleticism makes him truly versatile, not just a misfit — but size wise, he may be limited to slot corner reps at the next level. I’m not sure he clears the 5105 mark for height.
Darnell Savage Jr., Maryland
Savage also projects best as a nickel defender at the next level — and that’s where he played the majority of his reps with the Terps. Wicked instinctive with good explosiveness, Savage proved a playmaker from short zones, and with great feistiness to him, was not overextended in coverage against larger tight ends or when filling against the run. You can play him as a high safety, but I’d not play him at centerfield, which exposes his lack of length, over-aggressive nature, and tests his long speed — let him stay close to the action. He’s my sleeper coming into the week.
Sheldrick Redwine, Miami
The first of two Hurricane safeties making the trip to Mobile, Redwine brings a good degree of physicality to the group, as well as ideal size. That said, Redwine worries me in terms of processing speed and risk management — he doesn’t make a ton of plays on the ball in coverage and will get caught out of position a ton against misdirection. I see a box safety with depth potential moving forward.
Jaquan Johnson, Miami
Johnson is the higher-ceiling player of the two Hurricane safeties, and I’m excited to see how he holds up against players of his size/mold. Johnson is a hitter from the high safety position; a headhunter with great physicality packed into a compact frame. He needs to generate more splash plays on the football, like his teammate Redwine, but his TFL/stop short of the sticks impact is already NFL level. At the very least, Johnson is box safety depth and an ideal special-teamer.
Jonathan Abram, Mississippi State
With much hype coming into the season, Abram remains too out-of-control for my liking at deep safety. He is reckless approaching contact, regularly losing his balance and looking for a hit that isn’t there. NFL teams understandably like the length, the athletic ability, and Abram has coverage upside — but I think the good route runners in the TE class of Mobile will get him twisted around. Abram will be an upside pick who goes earlier than he should, methinks.
Marvell Tell, USC
Tell, like Abram, comes with a lot of preseason hype: he was a big recruit for USC, and made some flashy plays as a freshman and sophomore starter. Tell could up his game under the scrutiny in Mobile, but on tape you see a player take reps off and run with a cold motor; if that carries over into the Senior Bowl, he’ll quickly be exposed. A good straight-line athlete, Tell has yet to illustrate true ball-hawking ability from deep centerfield, which is his clearest path to NFL playing time.
Darius West, Kentucky
A bit of a surprise addition among the strong Kentucky roster, Darius West did put up career numbers for the Wildcats this year (86 TKL, 3 INT, 6 PD) — and at 6-foot-0 and 210 pounds, you can see why NFL teams want a closer look at that size and production. West is probably one of the best fits at box safety that’s in Mobile, and must translate his tackling prowess to prove to the coaching staffs there that he can hang in the box.
Khari Willis, Michigan State
Khari Willis is a big dude — I mean, a big dude — at 6-foot-1, 215 pounds. The measurables portion fo the Senior Bowl will be big for him, as teams will want to see that those school-listed numbers aren’t telling a lie. A hitter and sure tackler, I’m worried about Willis’ movement skills in coverage, and think his limited game might relegate him to special-teams duty in the NFL.
Will Harris, Boston College
Harris is an odd one, in that he’s also — last I heard — attending the Shrine Week previous the Senior Bowl. Don’t know why he would double-dip in the All-Star circuit, but hey, to each his own. Harris will look to prove to NFL scouts that he can win the box despite having poor long speed. With a hot motor and good tackling form, I like Harris to impress as a Day 3 player with depth ability.