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Saturday scouting report - Paris Ford, S, Pittsburgh - Games to watch

Ford could be the first safety off the board in 2021

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Louisville v Pittsburgh Photo by Justin Berl/Getty Images

Good morning New York Giants fans and happy Saturday!

This edition of the Saturday Scouting Report features a player we weren’t expecting to break down until after the 2020 college season was in the books. Pittsburgh safety Paris Ford is expected to be one of the, if not the, top safeties in the upcoming draft, and was a surprise opt-out at the beginning of November. Ford announced after seven games that he would be leaving the program and opting out of the remainder of the 2020 season in favor of the 2021 NFL Draft.

Ford explored leaving Pittsburgh last year, submitting to the Draft Advisory Committee for feedback after a break-out red-shirt sophomore campaign in 2019. He was advised to return to school, which he ultimately decided to do. Ford is currently considered one of the top safety prospects in the upcoming draft, thanks to his well-rounded skillset and disruptive play.

Prospect: Paris Ford (S, Pittsburgh)
Games Watched: vs. North Carolina (2019), vs. Eastern Michigan (2019), vs. Virginia (2019), vs. Syracuse (2019)

Measurables

Height: 6000 (6-foot)
Weight: 190 pounds

Stats

Tackles: 136
Tackles For a loss: 5.5
Sacks: 0
Forced Fumbles: 3
Interceptions: 6 (10 passes defensed)

2020 Stats

Tackles: 41
Tackles For a loss: 3.0
Sacks: 0
Forced Fumbles: 0
Interceptions: 3 (1 pass defensed)

Quick Summary

Best: Explosiveness, fluidity, length, range, versatility, physicality
Worst: Tackling, angles to the ball
Projection: A starting safety with scheme versatility

Game Tape

Full Report

Pittsburgh safety Paris Ford is a versatile and well-rounded prospect with the ability to play a variety of roles in a variety of schemes and coverages at the NFL level.

Ford possesses enough range and fluidity in coverage to align in a deep half or third coverage zone, such as in a Cover-2 or Cover-3 shell, or as a single-high safety in a Cover-1 shell. He also has the competitive toughness, explosiveness, and short-area quickness to play a box or strong safety role closer to the line of scrimmage. Ford shows a good understanding of the game from the safety position and is an active communicator from either alignment in the secondary in the pre-snap phase. He also wastes little time deciphering offensive plays with an accurate first step and good tracking of the ball despite misdirection. Ford wastes little time and energy when triggering on the play and had good range to pursue across the field.

He shows good fluidity and movement skills in coverage, with little effort in opening his hips and transitioning from his backpedal to a sprint in coverage. Ford also shows good awareness in coverage, as well as an understanding of route concepts. He closes hard on the ball when in zone coverage and uses his length well to shut passing windows, play receivers’ hands, and make plays on the ball. He has solid ball skills to break up passes or come away with interceptions.

Ford is explosive playing downhill in run support, showing an impressive closing burst and flying to ball carriers with almost reckless abandon. He is a fearless run defender who has no hesitancy in filling gaps or attacking ball carriers. Ford also shows that same explosiveness as a blitzer, with a good sense of timing and willingness to lay hits on quarterbacks.

Ford needs to improve his tackling form, too often relying on shoulder checks to try and knock offensive players over. He rarely breaks down, squares, wraps up, and drives through ball carriers, which can lead to yards after contact. Ford is also inconsistent in the angles he takes to the ball, at times misjudging offensive players’ speed (or overestimating his own) and taking himself out of position to tackle effectively.

Ford can also show some inconsistent play demeanor. He is dogged and shows high effort in pursuit when he believes a play is there to be made, but other times he can be seen standing around when it seems the play is going away from him.

Projection

Pittsburgh safety projects as a starting safety at the NFL level. He is a versatile, well-rounded safety prospect who can play a variety of roles in a variety of coverage shells in an NFL defense.

Ford has the range and awareness to be trusted in deep coverage zones as a free safety, as well as enough short-area quickness, fluidity, and physicality to hold up near the line of scrimmage as a box or strong safety. In either case, he is at his best with the game in front of him, playing with an aggressive explosiveness and a desire to hit offensive players and impact the game.

While Ford is an aggressive player who plays hard throughout the game, he does allow his motor to wind down when it appears the play is going elsewhere. Interviews could be important to find out why or whether a different coaching style could improve this.

Ford’s biggest area of improvement will be in his tackling form and pursuit angles. Ford plays like a 220 pound safety, but his 190-pound stature shows up when he attempts to shoulder-check larger offensive players. Improving both Ford’s tackling form and angles to the ball should work together to make him a more reliable and disruptive defender.

Games to watch

Notre Dame (2) at Boston College

ABC - 3:30p.m.

Players to watch

Notre Dame

  • Liam Eichenberg (OT)
  • Jarrett Patterson (iOL)
  • Jerimiah Owusu-Koramoah (LB)

Boston College

  • Phil Jurkovec (QB)
  • Alec Lindstrom (iOL)
  • Zion Johnson (iOL)
  • Tyler Vrabel (OT)
  • Hunter Long (TE)

Florida (6) vs. Arkansas

ESPN - 7p.m.

Players to watch

Florida

  • Kyle Trask (QB)
  • Kyle Pitts (TE)
  • Kadarius Toney (WR)

Arkansas

  • Myron Cunningham (OT)

Michigan vs. Wisconsin (13)

ABC - 7:30 p.m.

Players to watch

Michigan

  • Aidan Hutchinson (EDGE)
  • Kwity Paye (EDGE)
  • Jalen Mayfield (OT)

Wisconsin

  • Jack Sanborn (LB)
  • Jake Ferguson (TE)
  • Cole Van Lanen (OT)

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