It seems like the 2020 NFL Draft just happened, but we move fast here at The Draft Network.
Currently going through summer evaluations for the 2021 NFL Draft class, our scouting team of Kyle Crabbs, Joe Marino, Jordan Reid, and Drae Harris are meeting up every day to discuss prospects, traits, and concepts. New to TDN is a daily scouting roundtable where we go through and identify the most important points of conversation from that day’s meeting.
On Thursday, we discussed some under-the-radar safeties, including Pittsburgh’s Paris Ford and TCU’s Trevon Moehrig.
Ford Packs a Punch
The meeting started with a boom, as Marino took us through Pittsburgh safety Paris Ford’s scouting report.
A returning junior with four interceptions last season, Ford is widely assumed to be one of the top defensive backs in the class. After his initial viewing, Marino certainly agreed with that sentiment.
“He missed two games last year because of targeting disqualifications, which I think is a good way to talk about just how much of a physical and urgent football player he is,” Marino stated in his description of the Panther. “He flies around everywhere. His trigger downhill is extremely quick and he’s not the type of guy who’s content watching his teammates make plays. (Ford) sticks his face in there every chance he can get.”
Besides the pure energy and emotion he brings, Marino also pointed out how well Ford covers in the short to intermediate areas of the field.
“You didn’t see a ton of man coverage reps, but when he was able to play closer to the LOS and in shallow zones, you saw his athletic ability and pure quickness.”
The main negative that Marino shared was that he wasn’t sure if Ford feels fully comfortable playing deep yet.
“He’s still developing comfort in terms of when to start closing and processing the routes in front of him”, Marino explained.
The positives far outweighed the concerns, however, as Marino adamantly brought up that this was a strong prospect with a bright future.
While wrapping up the Ford conversation, Reid also mentioned one name to compare him to in Browns DB Karl Joseph. A thumper on the back-end, Joseph went 14th overall, and with a strong junior season, it’s possible to see Ford garnering a similarly high selection.
Just like with left tackles and pure outside corners, it’s not easy to find roaming free safeties in today’s day and age. So many DBs are more comfortable down in the box, which is what made TCU’s Trevon Moehrig an interesting case study for Reid.
“He’s the rare occasion of a true single-high safety,” Reid gushed in his evaluation. “He has the loose hips you’re looking for. The best thing about him is that although he doesn’t quite have sideline to sideline range, I think he can play numbers to numbers.”
Every player has their issues, however, and Moehrig wasn’t an exception.
“The one thing that does worry me about him is that he’s not a great tackler," Reid mentioned. “That concerns me, especially because he’s going to be your last line of defense.”
Crabbs went on to ask Reid whether the tackling issue mentioned was more of an effort or technical problem.
“He likes to hit, he just doesn’t really know how to,” Reid answered.
Better Brandon Jones?
Reid didn’t just have Moehrig, but also a second Big-12 safety to study in Oklahoma State’s Kolby Harvell-Peel. He came away just as, if not more, impressed by the Cowboy and his game.
A versatile defender, Harvell-Peel’s main impact came as a tackler, and Reid stated as much.
“The first thing you notice is his plant and drive over the middle of the field. (Oklahoma State) played him at free safety, strong safety, and also a little bit at that rover/overhang position. He's a bit stiff in the hips so you don’t want him in man coverage, but if he plays the low areas in zone he’ll have success.”
Harvell-Peels, despite some coverage limitations, also had five interceptions this past season. However, Reid did state that number is a bit of a false illusion.
“He’s really a 'the right place at the right time' type of safety,” Reid mentioned. “He had five interceptions last year, but three of those came off tipped passes and the other two came off what I like to call arm punts.
“At the end of the day, I like his film a lot, I just think he’s a bit limited in terms of coverage. He reminds me a lot of (former Texas safety) Brandon Jones but has much better ball skills.
For reference, Jones went 70th overall to the Miami Dolphins in the 2020 NFL Draft.