PFF scouting report: Jeremy Cash, LB/S, Duke

Sam Monson and the PFF draft crew break down the game of Duke linebacker-safety hybrid Jeremy Cash.

| 1 year ago
(AP Photo/Gregory Payan)

(AP Photo/Gregory Payan)

PFF scouting report: Jeremy Cash, LB/S, Duke

Below is the PFF draft profile for Duke safety Jeremy Cash, which incorporates PFF’s college grades and scouting intel from our team of analysts. To see all of PFF’s 2016 scouting reports, click here.

Position fit:

Weakside outside linebacker in a 4-3

Stats to know:

Has made at least 45 defensive stops and 70 solo tackles in each of the past two seasons.

What he does best:

–Plays the run. Jeremy Cash has played a hybrid role for the Duke defense that has seen him line up at safety, slot corner and linebacker (in an interview with PFF at this year’s scouting combine, he described his position with the Blue Devils as a “strike safety”), but wherever he has been he has graded well as a run defender and notched a ton of tackles and impact plays.

–From this hybrid role Cash has been used a lot as a pass-rusher, blitzing 135 times over the past two seasons (60-plus in each), and generating nine sacks, 15 hits and 21 hurries from those rushes.

–As long as it is in the right situation, Cash can play coverage well. You don’t want him as a single-high free safety, but converted to linebacker he can make all of the zone drops and hold up in man coverage with backs and tight ends. Had six passes defensed and two picks in 2014 when he had a bigger role in coverage.

–Is well-rounded. Has multiple games in each of the past two seasons in which he has earned positive grades in every area PFF measures. Extremely solid football player who simply knows how to play.

Biggest concern:

–The switch in positions. In his interview with PFF, Cash said different teams are telling him they view hi in different roles, and that they could see him playing all over but not likely in deep coverage, instead in a versatile role as an in-the-box defender. But it’s still likely that he’ll be playing linebacker full-time at the NFL level for most teams, not safety or slot corner. That change in alignment and assignments always poses unknown variables and inevitably worries teams.

–Coverage, if you want to keep him at defensive back in the NFL. Imagine moving Lavonte David to safety and asking him to hold up in coverage; that wouldn’t go well, despite David’s tremendous coverage abilities as a linebacker. Cash has the cover skills to play linebacker at the NFL level, but lacks the movement skills and fluidity in space to play safety on the back end. If teams see him there, it could be an issue.

–Occasionally prone to bad games. Most of his grading is very good, but he either grades well or badly, there is no middle ground. When he has a bad day at the office, it’ll hurt.

Pro style comparison:

Deone Bucannon, Arizona Cardinals. For the moment, Bucannon is the poster-boy for converting safeties to linebackers, although the Rams look to have made a pretty successful convert out of Mark Barron, too. Cash told PFF that Bucannon is the name that comes up in conversations he has with teams in terms of the role they envision for him. All three players struggled at the highest level in terms of coverage and the movement skills that requires, but brought down into the box are more than capable of handling themselves against much smaller modern offensive fronts.

Bottom line:

Cash is a very good football player whatever he is asked to do, but his athletic limitations mean his NFL future is more clouded. As a safety at the next level, he is likely to be exposed in coverage for lack of ideal movement skills in space, but kicked down to linebacker he has the potential to become an excellent player. Modern offenses are overall smaller than they used to be, with tight ends more like big receivers than extra linemen, and fullbacks usually replaced with extra receiving options. Linebackers once needed to be 245 pounds or more, but those days are gone. Cash may still be undersized, but he has enough size to play the position in today’s NFL.

| Senior Analyst

Sam is a Senior Analyst at Pro Football Focus, as well as a contributor to ESPN and NBCSports.

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