Let’s talk about some 2013 prospects. There are some talented Safety prospects.
Tyrann Mathieu was just in the news for all the wrong reasons. He was booted off the LSU team. He’s likely to end up at McNeese State, but nothing has been finalized. Matthieu is an odd player. Only goes 5-9, 175. Listed as a CB at LSU, but really was a jack of all trades. The coaching staff knew he was a playmaker and embraced that fact rather than forcing him into a conventional role. Matthieu always seemed to be at his best when playing in the box. That may seem nuts based on his size, but watch the tape. He was a freak down there.
Matthieu led LSU in tackles (59 solo). He had 7.5 TFLs, 1.5 sacks, 2 INTs, 9 PBUs, and an amazing 6 FFs. You normally see a DE getting that many FFs, or maybe a huge S that sits back and pounds receivers in the middle of the field. Matthieu is small. He’s just one of those special guys who has a habit of getting the ball. He had 5 FFs as a Freshman in 2010. And he recovered 6 fumbles in his 2 years at LSU. If the ball is loose, he’s got a very good chance to get it.
Matthieu has pretty good cover skills, but as a pure CB isn’t anything close to special. The team that drafts him needs a creative defensive coaching staff that will embrace Matthieu’s unique skill set. He can play the slot. He can play Safety. He must be moved around. You want him in the box quite a bit. He’s physical enough to handle that and his blitzing ability is huge. Very disruptive player. You also want him near the ball. That’s when good things happen. As an added bonus, Matthieu is a gifted PR. He averaged 16 yards per PR and had 2 TDs in 2011.
Obviously off-field concerns will be huge with him. Drugs got him kicked out of LSU. Once you hand him a 6 or 7-figure salary, is that likely to be better? Scary. He wasn’t a problem at LSU (from what we know), aside from the drugs. He’s not a bad kid, just a pothead, assuming that was the drug that got him kicked off. It got him suspended in 2011 for a game so I’m guessing that was once again the problem. I think the situation will push him out of the 1st round and into the 2nd. He needs a good season in 2012 and to stay out of trouble. And for god’s sake…don’t test positive at the Combine. UPDATE — Joe Schad is reporting today that Tyrann might try to stay at LSU as a student in 2012 and then try to return to the team in 2013. Other reports say this isn’t possible. We’ll find out soon enough.
Kenny Vaccaro is a Senior at Texas. He’s coming off a great Junior season in which he had 45 solo tackles, 6.5 TFLs, 2 sacks, 2 INTs, and 7 PBUs. Put on the tape and he stands out. Vaccaro can play in the box or back as a cover guy. Has good size at 6-1, 218. Tackles well, in traffic or out in space. Very good blitzer. Times it well, has good closing speed, and knows how to seal the deal. Some DBs can get to the QB, but don’t know how to finish the play. Vaccaro has 2 years of starting experience so far. Good athlete. Could end up being a pretty high pick.
If you haven’t seen it, his sack in the bowl game vs Cal is amazing.
TJ McDonald is a 2-year starter at FS for USC. He’s a Senior now and has the potential to be a big time player in 2012. He has a tall, thin build at 6-3, 205. Looks like he should be a natural centerfielder at the back of the defense. Has pretty good ball skills. McDonald has picked off 6 career passes. Had 3 INTs in 2011, all gifts. The QB threw him the ball on all 3. Did make smooth catches and looked natural running with the ball after each pick. McDonald undercut the route on the UCLA pick, but the QB was fighting off a rusher and just put the ball into the endzone.
Not always a form tackler. Gets sloppy at times. Will get lazy and grab. Other plays he will wrap up players and take them down strongly. Potential is there. Just needs to get more consistent. Can be an impact hitter, but unfortunately…in the old school way. Launches himself at receivers. Has gotten a few flags. Will pay fines in the NFL for that stuff and eventually be suspended. Must clean up that part of his game or get a time machine back to 1992. Has good range. Generally takes good angles to the ball. Not a strong run defender. Much better in space than in traffic and not as good a tackler when he’s standing still and working to the ball. At his best as a downhill player…where he sees the target in front of him and can go attack.
Baccari Rambo is a talented Safety for Georgia, but he’s facing a 4-game suspension for failing a drug test. There is a possibility of the suspension being reduced. No word on that as of yet. Rambo told his high school coach that he ate a brownie, not knowing it was laced with marijuana. Sounds like a reach, but you never know. Maybe he’s totally honest. I can’t blame him for loving brownies.
Rambo is 6-0, 210. He’s proven to be quite the playmaker at UGA. He’s got 13 career picks. He also has 6 TFLs, 16 PBUs, and 3 FFs. Can be a physical tackler, although he gets sloppy at times. Has good speed. Covers a lot of ground. Can play in the box, but I don’t think it is his best spot. Let’s hope he stays clean this year and at the Combine. Talented player. Hate to see him fall due to being a knucklehead.
Back to LSU. Eric Reid is going to be hugely important for them after the loss of so many DBs from last year. He’s only going to be a Junior in 2012. I don’t like to talk about underclassmen much, but Reid bears watching. LSU has put out some top DBs in recent years.
I haven’t spent a lot of time watching Reid since 2011 was just his Soph year. I’ll pay more attention this season. He looks athletic. Has very good closing speed. Can sit back and be a centerfielder, but also isn’t shy about coming up in run support. Tied for LSU team lead in total tackles last year, while adding 2 TFLs, 2 INTs, and 2 FFs. Could be in for a big time season in 2012. Will have lots of new faces around him in the secondary, but LSU never lacks for talent so I think he’ll be okay.
Alabama has put out some top flight DBs in recent years and Robert Lester could be the next one. He has started at Safety for them for the past 2 seasons. He’s now the Senior leader and will be part of a talented defense. Lester didn’t post great numbers in 2011, but I think that was a result of playing on such a suffocating defense that offenses couldn’t be productive enough to give him chances.
Lester is 6-2, 210. Can play deep and cover. Can come down and play in the box. Isn’t great in any one area. Had 2 INTs in 2011, but 8 in 2010. Has pretty good hands. Can go up and get the ball or go low and make the shoestring catch. Good hitter/tackler. Doesn’t look like a great athlete. Plays hard and goes full tilt, but looks a little straight line to me. I don’t see top agility or COD ability.