Let's use today's 2011 NFL Draft prospect profile to look at a player who has flown under the radar -- maybe even completely off the radar -- during the post-season run-up to the 2011 NFL Draft.
North Carolina safety Deunta Williams was a productive college player and might have been a second-round draft choice in what is looked at as a fairly weak class of safeties had he not broken his leg during the Tar Heels appearance in the Motor City Bowl. Now, not having been able to run at the Scouting Combine or work out for teams, Williams is considered a third-day gamble.
Wes Bunting of the National Football Post recently put Williams among his top five most under-rated prospects heading into the draft. Bunting says in part:
... when healthy he displays natural coordination/power on contact as a tackler and can open up his hips and drive on the football. He’s not a burner in space, but I certainly think he runs well enough to hold his own in the deep half and if the longterm medical checks out, he could end up being a steal come Saturday.
Any time you can get a second- or third-round talent on the final day of the draft you have to give that player a long look. Scouting reports after the jump.
SS, North Carolina
6-foot-2, 205 pounds
Projection: Late rounds
From National Football Post:
A tall, physically built free safety prospect who exhibits natural balance and coordination in his drop. Has a tendency to get a bit lazy at times in his back-pedal — causing his pad level to rise — but for the most part is able to stay compact and cleanly/quickly drive on the football in front of him. Exhibits good fluidity when asked to turn and run and looks natural changing directions in both tight man and space. Possesses a good overall feel for the pass game in man coverage, exhibits above-average instincts, anticipates routes well and consistently is able to get good jumps on the pass and cut off receivers one-on-one. However, doesn't look quite as confident in zone.
Possesses above-average instincts when asked to attack the run game and looks natural keeping himself clean from blockers and making his way toward the football.
Impression: Possesses a gifted skill set, can flip his hips, drive on the football and be physical when he wants. However, lacks a great feel in zone at this point and needs to become a more sound wrap-up guy. Broke his left let in the Bowl game, which likely will cause him to fall due to being unable to perform during the post-season.
From Sideline Scouting:
Positives: Has a very solid frame for a safety, has above-average mix of height and bulk, speed is adequate for the position... Put up exceptional stats during his first three years (169 tackles, 12 interceptions, two forced fumbles)... Is a good sideline-to-sideline defender, flows well to the ball and seems to be near every play in the secondary... Is very instinctual, reads opposing quarterbacks well and is an adequate zone defender... Has good instincts in run coverage, reads fairly quickly and explodes to the ball... Appears to be an above-average man defender, has good footwork and fluid hips for his size... Versatile safety, has the ability to play both positions because of size/athleticism mix... Has the ability to strike hard when taking good angles, has some pop when hitting receivers after the catch.
Negatives: Production declined significantly in 2010 (49 tackles, one forced fumble, no interceptions)... Was suspended four games in 2010 for violating NCAA rules along with several of his teammates, but has stayed out of trouble otherwise... Is not the surest tackler, does not break down well, can play out of control at times and miss open-field tackles... Will be fooled by double moves and quick cuts, is aggressive, but can be too aggressive at times... Needs to work on taking better angles in run defense and in pursuit, will get caught up in traffic at times and get behind plays when running across the field... Suffered a broken leg in the Music City Bowl vs. Tennessee.
Williams has ideal size and good speed. Smart kid that is always in position and shows a knack for anticipating routes. Fluid athlete that sticks with receivers in and out of their breaks in man coverage. Possesses reliable hands and the body control to make difficult interceptions. Takes precise angles in run support and is a sound tackler.
Over-aggressive at times and can be burned by double moves. Lacks physicality in run support and struggles to disengage from blockers. Does not deliver violent shots when tackling and will sometimes resort to arm tackles. Will not make plays in jump ball situations.
Williams is a supremely confident safety who has the speed and cover skills to eventually develop into a starter at the next level. He puts in time in the film room and always appears to be in position to make a play in coverage. He has the speed to be a true center fielder and the terrific hands to make acrobatic interceptions. He must become more physical in run support, but he takes proper angles to the ball and makes tackles despite not delivering big shots on impact.