The team headed down to Mobile, AL for the Reese’s Senior Bowl and now we will break down the best of the best at each position. Nino (@NinoBrown_T2T) covered the Safeties and those that stood out to him.
J.L. Skinner, S, Boise State
Heading into Mobile, I was excited to see Skinner play in person and boy did he not disappoint. Skinner’s size & length are a problem for most wide receivers and tight ends. Skinner can play anywhere on the field, in coverage, as the nickel, in the box, and he has the ability to be successful in each of those sports. J.L. Played 56% of his Snaps for Boise in ’22 in the box. Skinner did get burnt 2 times by Trey Palmer on Day 1 but quickly tightened up coverage on Day 2 & Day 3. In fact Day 2 he absolutely destroyed whoever he lined up against in press coverage. Skinner had a total of 9 missed tackles last season.
Jammie Robinson, S, FSU
Robinson’s fluid back pedal and quickness to change route directions makes him a gnat for wide receivers. Jammie is a physical player that can play in coverage or in the box. Robinson excels in the slot role and can play press without getting burnt off the line. Robinson keeps players in front of him and rarely misses tackles (7 total last season). Robinson started out as a Gamecock before transferring to FSU but no matter the scenery the numbers always increased annually. Robinson is an early Day 2 pick in the 2023 NFL Draft.
Sydney Brown, S, Illinois
The other half of the Brown Brothers for Illinois had no difference in chiseled body structure. Sydney came into Mobile prepared and ready to show it. In coverage, Brown was tighter than a new pair of work boots, if the wide receiver made the catch, he had to work for it, nothing was easy vs Brown. Brown is also a heat seeking missile in the open field. Ball carriers better have their head on a swivel or they could become victim to a Brown highlight.
Jay Ward, S, LSU
Ward’s dual threat of playing defensive back and safety was very apparent at the Reese’s Senior Bowl. At 6’2 187 lbs, Ward knows how to use his frame to wrap and tackle running backs and tight ends as well as using his defensive back skills to attack the ball at the catch point. I believe Ward will climb draft boards following the combine especially if he runs a low 4.4 – 40. Ward reads quarterbacks well, closes quickly, and hits like a bus. All qualities that defensive coordinators & GMs eat up.
Daniel Scott, S, California
Scott was a quiet riser for me at the Senior Bowl. Scott used his 6’2”, 210 lbs, 10″ hands to his advantage either breaking up passes or flying in at the last second to disrupt the wide receiver or tight end. Scott may not be the fastest safety (4.64 – 40) but he closes fast enough and can lay the boom! Running Backs coming out of the backfield better have an eye on Scott. Scott held opposing quarterbacks to a 57.5 QBR on average over his 4 yr collegiate career.
Chris Smith, S, Georgia
Smith was a faller for me Day 1 and 2 but man did he show up for Day 3 practices and Saturdays game. Early on in practices the knock on Smith was his 👋 hand play. Multiple times Chris was caught either grabbing a jersey or just too focused on hand checking which led to completed passes. Later at the end of the week, Smith locked in! Day 3 was Smith’s best day as he was the most discussed out of all the players in the secondary. Smith accomplished this by playing physical, being less handsy, and not allowing completions. I’m still undecided where Smith will go in the NFL Draft but a middle to end of round 3 selection seems fitting.
Kaevon Merriweather, S, Iowa
Heading into Mobile, I had Merriweather higher ranked than his teammate Riley Moss but that quickly changed for me. Merriweather doesn’t allow many completed passes (11.7 QBR when targeted in ’22) but his recognition of routes is poor. Kaevon closes to the ball well but can over pursue at times. Merriweather is a much better man defender than he is in zone coverage as his route recognition is average.
Marte Mapu, S, Sacramento State
Mapu definitely put his name on the radar of NFL GMs and Head Coaches at the Senior Bowl. Marte’s size 6’3” 210 lbs is equivalent to that of a small linebacker playing Safety. Marte is coming off a 6.5 TFL, 2 INT season at Sacramento State. Mapu screams Nickel but can also play the high safety role and excel. Mapu’s fluid lower body movement and quickness make him a problem for tight ends and slower offensive linemen. Mapu has high route recognition and a high football IQ. Mapu played both sides of the ball in high school and showed that by the way he brings his athleticism to the table. Mapu feels like a Bill Belicheck guy and would be a nice complement to Kyle Dugger.
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