Top Ten Secondary Players to Watch at the NFL Combine
Which Defensive Secondary Players Should I Watch at the 2015 Combine?
2015 NFL Offseason
As the NFL Combine continues (next week we’ll take a look at results), we’re going to spend this morning breaking down the top ten defensive secondary players you ought to be keeping an eye on. There are quite a few teams (Seattle Seahawks excluded) that could use some secondary help this off-season, so most of us need to be paying attention to these players heading into draft season.
USA TODAY Sports
1. Alabama S Landon Collins is a tough player, both physically and mentally. Collins is aggressive on the field and has the ability to motivate the entire defense with his play. The biggest concern with Collins is the fact that he dropped multiple interceptions during his college years. If his hands can be improved, Collins has the potential to make an excellent pro player.
2. Michigan State CB Trae Waynes is a physical player who tackles well and has a knack for intimidating finesse receivers. Waynes comes from a good program, but does need to work on his “handsy” technique a little bit to avoid flags in the pros. Overall, look for him to go fairly early in the draft; Waynes may not be a standout his rookie season, but with some work, he’ll become a solid NFL player.
3. Florida State CB P.J. Williams has great eyes and often makes plays outside of his area. Williams has also spent time on big stages, so adjusting to the spotlight of the NFL won’t be an issue for him. Williams’s biggest issue is his tendency to only bring his best game against big opponents; he often gets complacent against teams he perceives as lesser than his own. If Williams can become a more consistent player, he could be the best pro CB to come out of the 2015 draft class.
4. Fresno State S Derron Smith started all four years of his college career. Smith played QB in high school and understands both sides of the ball, which will appeal to scouts around the league. Smith possesses above-average football intelligence and playmaking skills. His only issue is that he’s a little on the small side for an NFL S, but other than that, Smith is just about the whole package.
5. LSU CB Jalen Collins has quick feet and deceiving speed for his 6’2, 198 pound frame. Collins shows immense potential, but had only 10 starts throughout his college career. In these starts, though, he’s shown that he can read the field well and be a true playmaker. This lack of experience may be off-putting to some NFL scouts, but Collins seems to have the natural athleticism and drive to become a big-time threat on Sundays.
6. Washington CB Marcus Peters has a confidence that can’t be coached on the gridiron. This is, though, his biggest pro and his biggest con. While Peters is a naturally talented player, he has some emotional/reactionary issues that will cause NFL scouts to take pause. Peters was suspended for a game during the 2014 season after having an outburst on the sidelines and, ultimately, found himself kicked-off the team due to problems with his coaches. Look for Peters to go in the third or fourth round due to these character concerns.
7. Samford S Jaquiski Tartt (my favorite name in this year’s draft class, just for the record) racked-up impressive numbers, including 199 solo tackles, 20 pass break-ups, and six interceptions during his college career. Tartt is a true competitor who will do whatever it takes to get the job done, even playing through injuries. The biggest issue with Tartt is that he sometimes lets post routes get behind him and can’t catch-up. If this can be corrected, he could become a solid NFL starter.
8. Wake Forest CB Kevin Johnson is naturally athletic and fast, but has a thin lower body that concerns some NFL scouts. The good thing is that Johnson plays as if he’s stronger than his 175 pounds suggest. Johnson is a three-year starter who improved his man coverage skills tremendously from 2013 to 2014. If he can continue on this path, Johnson may have the ability to become a pro starter in short order.
9. Northwestern S Ibraheim Campbell is a four-year starter who is greatly respected by both his fellow players and his coaching staff. Campbell plays with an appealing aggressiveness and has good run support skills. Campbell’s biggest problem is his lack of fast diagnostic skills; his can take too long to read the field. Look for Campbell to start on special teams as he learns more about playing the S position well at the next level.
10. Washington OLB/S Shaq Thompson is one of the most versatile and unique players in this year’s draft. While the majority of Thompson’s experience is at the OLB position, some NFL scouts feel that he’s best suited to play S in the big leagues. Thompson, a team leader off the field, is also smart player who truly understands the game, making him an asset to any team that drafts him. While I think Thompson is an immense talent, I put him at the No. 10 spot since he may not actually wind-up in the secondary of his future pro team.