The safety position is in an interesting place with respect to its value around the NFL. Teams recognize that a great safety, and a great free safety in particular, can be absolutely transformative for a defense. They allow a defense to rip pages out of the offensive playbook while being more aggressive and creative themselves.
Safeties are also becoming much more important as modern defenses struggle to counter increasingly fast offenses. And we have seen the price tags of free agent safeties rise accordingly in recent years. However, we haven’t seen the draft stock of the safety position as a whole change much in recent years. Even when drafts boast highly rated safeties, they generally aren’t drafted until later in the first or even the second round. The 2020 NFL draft didn’t have a single safety drafted in the first round, though five were taken in the second.
That’s the landscape into which TCU safety Trevon Moehrig-Woodard is stepping.
Moehrig is one of the best safeties in the upcoming draft, with the ability to play (and be productive in) a variety of roles, but his draft stock could be very volatile. The 2020 Jim Thorpe award winner could be the first safety off the board and drafted in the first round, or he might have to wait until some time in the second day to hear his name called.
Prospect: Trevon Moehrig-Woodard
Games Watched: vs. Oklahoma (2019), vs. Oklahoma State (2019), vs. Texas (2020), vs. Oklahoma (2020)
Games Played: 33
Tackles For a loss: 4.5
Forced Fumbles: 2
Passes Defensed: 21
Games Played: 10
Tackles For a loss: 2.0
Forced Fumbles: 0
Passes Defensed: 9
Best: Range, versatility, communication, tackling
Worst: Angles to the ball
Projection: A starting free safety with scheme versatility.
TCU safety Trevon Moehrig-Woodard has a good blend of height, weight, and athleticism to fill a variety of roles in the defensive secondary at the NFL level.
Moehrig played the deep safety role in TCU’s Cover-2 and Cover-3 shells, as well as the centerfield role in Cover-1 defenses. He was originally recruited as a cornerback, a skillset he makes use of as a slot defender.
Moehrig is a good communicator in the pre-snap phase of the play. He frequently communicates with, and adjusts, his fellow defensive backs before the snap of the ball. This, combined with the variety of role which he plays, suggests a good football IQ and the ability to handle a more complex defense as a rookie.
He shows a compact balanced backpedal as a free safety, allowing him to get depth quickly in his zone drops while being able to trigger downhill quickly. He gets good depth when playing in deep zone coverages, generally staying on top of the offense and in position to be the “last line of defense.” He is also comfortable playing closer to the line of scrimmage as a box or slot defender. Moehrig shows fluid hips in his transition, allowing him to stay in phase with most slot receivers when asked to cover in man. Likewise, he is able to carry speed from a backpedal to running with receivers down the field. While he isn’t an exceptional athlete, he is able to run with most receivers and shows a good closing burst when in off coverage or when playing downhill as a run defender.
Moehrig shows solid play strength, able to meet and defeat most receivers’ blocks, and he is a very hard hitter. He is fearless coming downhill and is a willing defender when he has to come up and fill running lanes. Moehrig generally shows good form when tackling, looking to both wrap up and tackle through the ball carrier. He is not only capable of getting ball carriers — receivers and running backs — on the ground, but his hits are also capable of jarring the ball loose and creating turnovers.
But while Moehrig is a smart safety, his aggressiveness gets the better of him at times. He is prone to taking overly-aggressive angles to the ball, which can leave him out of position to make a clean tackle. He can also have an inconsistent play speed, occasionally seeming to need a moment to mentally switch gears when the play doesn’t line up with what he is expecting.
Overall Grade: 8.3 - This prospect has the physical and mental traits to start and man a sophisticated NFL coverage scheme.
Trevon Moehrig-Woodard projects as a starting safety with both scheme and positional flexibility.
He would be at his best in a defense which calls a relatively high number of Cover-1 or Cover-3 shells. Moehrig is a solid athlete with plenty of speed and range to cover the deep middle portion of the field, and flashes the ability to track the ball like a receiver. Likewise, he is certainly capable of lining up in the deep half of a Cover-2 shell, and TCU occasionally used that alignment to disguise a late rotation to a Cover-1 shell or when Moehrig was a slot defender.
He also has the size and physicality to play close to the line of scrimmage and has no problems taking on blocks or filling lanes as a run defender.
Teams will want to work with Moehrig in tempering some of his aggressiveness when deciding on angles to the ball. He can meet the ball carrier with thunderous tackles, but other times takes himself out of the play completely. That being said, he certainly appears to be a smart player and he has the potential to be a leader on the defense.