2015 NFL Scouting Combine Watch List: Safeties

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Oct 25, 2014; East Lansing, MI, USA; Michigan State Spartans safety Kurtis Drummond (27) gestures to crowd during the first half of a game at Spartan Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Mike Carter-USA TODAY Sports

Kurtis Drummond, Michigan State

The Spartans’ Kurtis Drummond is another very good athlete at the free safety position who has a good feel for deep zone coverage and good ball skills but has a number of flaws in his game, noticeably in man-on-man situations and as a tackler.

Despite being 6’1″ and 202 pounds, he is not particularly strong or physical as a run defender or in situations where he is called upon to cover a slot receiver. He gets boxed out and defeated by wideouts relatively routinely if left alone, and is probably best suited to being a help defender at the next level, which is likely how he would be used 90% of the time in most NFL defenses. While he is a willing and aggressive run defender, he’s not a very good tackler, and his limitations as a tackler make him a liability as a single-high player where he may be called upon to save touchdowns.

Still, he shows good speed, good recovery ability and fluidity and can probably play right away, if not every down, because of his ability as a zone coverage safety. Here are some things he can show in the Combine to bring his stock up a bit:

1. 40-yard Dash: a safety with a good 40 time is going to go up draft boards on the strength of it. While the 3-cone and shuttle runs are also important measurable drills for his position, a strong 40 will put NFL observers and decision-makers on notice: if he can run with elite wideouts, he can be coached out of some of the other things he does wrong.

2. Broad jump: A player who has a rap as a poor tackler will likely want to show scouts that his poor tackling is something that is coachable and not a result of poor lower-body strength. If Drummond can do well in this drill, he can show that he has the lower body strength to get into and drive opposing ball-carriers and just needs some work in practice on his tackling form and using his body rather than his arms to finish plays. It will also show his ability to play physically in the run game and get leverage and defeat wideouts attempting to block him.

3. Backpedal Turn and Catch Drill: This drill is thought of more as a cornerback drill than a safety drill, but if a team wants to see if a potential safety can line up as a slot defender or play deep center in a cover three or single-high and match up with deep receivers alone, they will want to see how fluidly he can backpedal over a deep drop, then look at his ability to turn to run and close with the football. Drummond can help alleviate some concerns about his ability on an island if he can show a strong backpedal, quick turn and burst in this drill.

Next: Player to Watch: Durell Eskridge