2015 UDFA: Safety Edition

With the emphasis on the passing game in today’s NFL, teams often covet ball-hawking, ball jarring, play making safeties to man the back end of their defenses. Even with the general consensus being that the 2015 draft class was lacking in top end safety talent; there were some very good players who remanied un-drafted at the end of day three in the 2015 class. Below is a list of a few of these players who went un-drafted, and what skills that they have to offer their respective teams who gave them a shot in the NFL.

Anthony Harris – Safety: Virginia/Vikings

Anthony Harris a taller lanky safety (6’1, 185 lbs.) who has an intriguing skill set. Harris is an extremely versatile player. He defends both the running and passing games well. Harris is also a adept at manning both safety positions. Harris diagnoses plays quickly, and has the anticipation to break on the football to make a play. He provides support against the running game both in the box as well as from sideline-to-sideline. Anthony Harris also possesses terrific ball skills. Due to his lack of bulk, Harris is more of a wrap up and drag down type of tackler rather than a traditional one. He will not be able to hold up as an in the box safety at the next level because of his slim frame. He is not an explosive hitter, and despite his gaudy tackling totals, he misses a lot of tackles due to lack of strength. Harris is not an elite athlete. Anthony Harris’ body of work is impressive, however his inability to work out during the pre-draft processes is what ultimately landed him on this list.

Cody Prewitt – Safety: Ole Miss/Titans

Prewitt possess the requisite height and weight for the position. He brings a lot of desirable qualities to the table, but he is also somewhat of an enigma. He is more of a cerebral player than an instinctual one. Also, you would expect a player of Cody Prewitt’s  physical stature (6’2, 208 lbs. Played as heavy as 227 lbs  while playing at Ole Miss) to be more assertive in the box and aggressive against the rushing attack. Prewitt does not sell out versus the run the same way that he does against the short passing game. At times he has trouble making a play on the ball without a clear path to the ball carrier. Even though Prewitt has some limitations in coverage, he is an opportunistic safety who has a nose for forcing turnovers. He regularly intercepts balls that have been tipped, and will also make plays over the top in double coverage situations. Prewitt also has a knack for forcing fumbles. Cody could develop into a solid starter in the NFL with good coaching, and the ideal system for his skill set.

Durell Eskridge – Safety: Syracuse/Jets

Eskridge has the prototypical height and bulk to play the safety in the pros. Durell measures in at 6’3, 208 lbs. with room to add more bulk to his frame. He is a step slow in diagnosing and reacting to play development. His instincts are still very raw, and would have benefited from playing out his senior year at Syracuse. Needs to improve playing strength in order to contribute consistently in the pros. Even though he lacks ideal burst, and closing speed, he is a smooth and fluid athlete. Durell is solid in run support on the perimeter of the defense. He flows towards the ball carrier under control, and has good awareness of where his help defense is on the field. Tackling technique can get sloppy from time-to-time. In the past, this has led to him missing tackles, and even cause harm to his body. This must improve in order for him to have a career in the NFL. At this point during his career Eskridge  is a see and react player. He doesn’t play with great anticipation. One wonders if it would suit him better to add size and strength, and make the position change into a linebacker. Playing him closer to the line of scrimmage would play towards his strengths.

Kurtis Drummond – Safety: Michigan State/Texans

Drummond is a good looking safety coming out of Michigan State. He produced at a high level on the collegiate level. He is not without his weaknesses however. Drummond can be suspect as a tackler in the open field. Drummond is a grab and drag tackler who doesn’t display proper technique at the point of attack. To his credit he doesn’t come across as a scheme specific type of player. He should be able to assimilate himself into any defensive system. Drummond is a much better safety when he can keep the play in front of him, as opposed to him playing with his back towards the offense. Drummond will occasionally allow the receiver to get between him and the football in jump ball situations. With all of that being said, Kurtis Drummond might arguably have the best ball skills in this year’s crop of safeties. He has the talent to make the spectacular highlight plays, and also has a knack for making big plays in big situations. Kurtis plays faster than his timed 40 yard dash speed of 4.65 seconds. Possess excellent closing speed, and shows excellent burst and big hitting ability as a down field tackler. Also, quickly closes on receivers in his vicinity of the field both as a tackler, and while the ball is in the air. All in all, Kurtis Drummond is an intriguing safety prospect who has the ability to become a good player with some good coaching.