CFF Overview: S - Something to Work With
In the “Top of the Crop” piece for the safety position, we looked at a pair of strong safety options in Landon Collins and James Sample as well as two potential free safeties in Damarious Randall and Anthony Harris. This time around we’ll see a handful of names that are a bit further down our safety list and may not boast as many standout traits, but still have something to offer.
An interesting trio here, bringing varied strengths and possible answers to teams looking to fill specific roles at the back end of their defenses.
Ibraheim Campbell, Northwestern
An aggressive type to fill a strong safety role, Campbell is quick to react up, is a solid tackler, and finished in the Top 10 for run defense grades in play against Power 5 teams even after missing four games. Opposite Amos, who we’ll discuss next, Campbell plays a bit bigger than his size. He’s willing to use his body and brings some punch – one of the best in that department in this draft. His work getting to the ball-carrier can be a mixed bag, at times finding trouble navigating through traffic, but more often he finds his way like against Notre Dame (4Q 1.36) where he showed great form to quickly discard a block on the edge and greet the runner with ill intent. The other side of the coin with Campbell, though, is his play in coverage.
Despite coming away with three interceptions on the year, he didn’t grade particularly well and three of the 14 catches he gave up went for scores. He isn’t nearly as comfortable in coverage as he is spotting and coming up to challenge runners and that’ll limit his immediate chances for playing time.
Signature Stat: 32 of his 45 total tackles came against the run.
Adrian Amos, Penn State
A versatile option at the position, Amos spent a third of his snaps last season lined up over a slot receiver and still managed to notch one of the top coverage grades in the class. Targeted 39 times overall, he gave up just 14 catches and an NFL passer rating of 13.0 (yes, 13.0) while getting his hands to the ball eight times (three interceptions, five passes defensed). One of those PDs, a great look at his read-and-range ability at the top of the defense came in the first quarter against Michigan State, where Amos made a relatively difficult play against a 7-route at the goal line look easy.
Amos wasn’t poor against the run, but it’s not his strong suit despite packing 218 pounds into his 6-foot frame. He’s not one to seek out work in the run game and doesn’t look for clean contact when tackling, opting instead for glancing measures to bring a runner down.
Signature Stat: Amos’ 0.30 Yards Per Cover Snap allowed was fourth among safeties in this draft class.
Derron Smith, Fresno State
While Amos brings an obvious strength in coverage and Campbell likewise in play against the run, Smith is something of an all-around option. He lacks the size you’d want to see and playing with a hernia in 2014 he was clearly not as quick as a glance his 2013 play would suggest, but he does a lot of things right.
He’s not going to wow with standout athleticism but he keeps himself well-positioned and is useful covering in space either as the low or high half of a split-field safety pair. At 5-foot-10, it’s tough to picture him matching up with tight ends in coverage, but he’s willing and physical enough to play around the line of scrimmage and smart enough to be trusted higher in the defense. A particular play he turned in against Nebraska (2Q 6.25) was a good example to see him being in the right place, reading as the play developed, and reacting up to separate the receiver from the ball.
Signature Stat: Finished eighth in the class with 21 run stops and graded inside the Top 20 against the run and in coverage.
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