We know Perry Fewell and the New York Giants love the three-safety package on defense, and they have had a great deal of success with it. One of the key things about remaining strong in the NFL is to make certain that your strengths remain strengths.
With that in mind, let's use today's 2012 NFL Draft Prospect Profile on Notre Dame safety Harrison Smith, a 6-foot-2, 214-pound player generally considered to be the second-best safety in this year's draft class, and a player likely to come off the board around the second round in this April's NFL Draft.
We know that Deon Grant gets slower every year and may not return. We don't know if Tyler Sash can be the in-the-box safety the Giants need, and you can root for Chad Jones to return but if you think the Giants are counting on him ever being an important player for them you are kidding yourself. Plus, with Kenny Phillips' knee always being something worth monitoring, this position could use replenishing.
Harrison had seven interceptions as a junior for the Fighting Irish, but none as a senior. NFL Network's Mike Mayock spoke glowingly of Smith prior to the NFL Scouting Combine:
"I think he is one of the best safeties in the country and I thought he had a great year this year," said Mayock. "He didn't have seven interceptions like he did the year before, but keep in mind I think three of them came against [Miami]. This year he made a bunch of plays on the ball, he tackled extremely well. He is the leader of the secondary. He is one of the smartest kids I think I've met as far as understanding the game of football and I think he'll be surprisingly athletic when they test him at the combine, so I'd be really surprised if he didn't go in the first two rounds."
Harrison fulfilled Mayock's prediction by posting the best time among safeties in the three-cone drill at the Combine, a 6.63. His 20-yard shuttle time of 4.12 was second among safeties.
Read more scouting reports about Smith after the jump.
Harrison Smith top safety 2012 draft (via dwid1984)
FF Toolbox has this to say about Smith:
"Smith is playing his best when he's playing downhill toward the line of scrimmage. He does not have the athleticism to compete at free safety, but he's the prototypical eighth man in the box who can play like an extra linebacker.
Smith has previous experience as a linebacker. This gives him the good, instinctive feel to make reads along the line. He isn't very fluid when backing up in open space, but his football IQ carries him. Not particularly quick, but plays and reacts faster than the average player.
Above average talent playing off-man coverage. He has enough range to cover the deep half. ... Smith is one of the better safety prospects in this class. While he is an intelligent football player, his lack of athleticism limits his upside."
Wes Bunting of the National Football Post had this to say about Smith:
"A thick, well built safety who looks the part, has a natural bubble and muscular upper body. Is very effective playing downhill inside the box and consistently gets early jumps on the ball, reads and reacts quickly and exhibits "plus" instincts as a run defender. ... Isn't a guy you want to trust to run with receivers down the field. However, because of his solid natural range and instincts, I can see him getting over the top and making plays in a center field type role as an NFL strong safety."
"He is the type of safety who is always involved, using his quickness, recognition and overall body control to react effectively to plays. While he has just adequate speed, he makes up for this deficiency with strong play recognition and anticipation, and he is often in a position to make a play on the ball. Overall, Smith is a smart, athletic defender who should push to start early in a zone-heavy NFL scheme."
Harrison Smith Profile
Weight: 214 pounds
School: Notre Dame
40 time: 4.57
2011 Stats: 90 tackles, seven passes defended, zero interceptions