I have never been a scout or a NFL General Manager, but I am willing to watch a ton of football. By watching about 200 snaps of each prospect, we can really get a feel for a player and then know what we are talking about a bit better. It is no exact science, but the NFL hasn't quite figured out drafting either, so we are going to do the best we can.
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Damarious Randall, S, Arizona State - 5'11, 196 - RS Senior - 4.46 40
Invariably, every year we see a grouping of positions in the NFL Draft that is anything but equitable from year to year. Some years, we have 0 Running Backs worthy of the Top 60 picks and other years, we have several. Some years there are 5 QBs in the 1st round. Other years, we wonder if there should be any.
Well, the winner of the "bare cupboard" award in 2015 seems to be a race between tight ends and safeties. It looks like there may be one 1st round pick in each category - with maybe none others being taken until the 3rd, and because there is only one top candidate in each spot, that player may be over-drafted. At least, in the safety department, there appear to be several cornerbacks who make sense as highly rated safeties, because when it comes to those who played it in college, we wish the crop was more promising.
When I look at safeties, I am always reminded the definition of the word, "safety": - the condition of being protected from or unlikely to cause danger or risk... Is the safety great at putting out fires and not causing any due to his own issues? If they aren't answering this question, then they aren't for me.
With that in mind, here is the case of Damarious Randall from Arizona State. He is a Juco-transfer, who has played at Arizona State for 2 seasons. During those 2 years, he racked up a number of splash plays - 15 tackles for loss, 6 interceptions, and over 175 tackles. Those numbers are quite impressive so I looked closely at his work against Stanford, Notre Dame, and Oregon State to see what there was to see.
Randall wears #3 in the videos.
What I liked: The two things I like most about Randall when examining his skill set are both very valuable tools. 1) I love the fact that he seems capable of defending players in a man to man setting for the most part. I saw him run hip to hip on those occasions where he is asked to man-cover a slot receiver or grab a tight end. He can do that very well. 2) His ball skills are impressive. If there is a ball in the air and he is in the area, he is a strong candidate to go get the ball. He looks very comfortable with his ability to play the ball and that should not be undersold. He is also an exceptional blitzer who has a knack for timing his runs well and also is a standout on special teams as a guy who made a few impactful plays covering kicks and punts. There are a lot of positive attributes.
What I did not like: Sadly, he violates my main tenet of safety play. He is anything but safe in the back as I saw the two things that violate what any team needs back there in the NFL. 1) You must be able to make tackles, because if you don't, there is often nobody behind you. For a guy with his high volume of tackles, he looked flat-out ridiculous in space trying to bring ball carriers down. I don't know if it is technique or interest or what, but without question, I was highly disappointed in his ability to tackle. A few times, like the play directly below, he almost gets out of the way and assists the RB to score a touchdown. Unfortunately, this was seen several times where he is just not very good at doing his main job. 2) He was fooled by QBs too often in coverage as well. Again, if you are in a deep safety position - whether you have half the field or the whole thing, you better not bite up and let a man behind you, because you are the safety (there is nobody behind you). He was burned so badly against Notre Dame that he immediately was taken off the free safety list.
Summary: Again, he does some things well. I love the man skills and the cover ability. He does other things poorly. Like so many players in this draft in the 3rd-4th rounds, it is a matter of value and asking how you will use him. Perhaps, he is a nickel back and used as a box safety or a slot back who can focus on his positives. Also, at the right price, he could be a fantastic depth guy who focuses on special teams while you work on his techniques. But, as it stands, if this is a safety who someone thinks is ready to be on the field early on, I am going to have to beg to differ. I cannot have risk-taking, poor-tackling safeties preserving back-breaking plays on my defense, and Randall, for all of his gifts, seems to be the opposite of safe from the action I observed.
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