NFL draft preview: Safeties
10:30 PM CDT on Saturday, April 18, 2009
By RICK GOSSELIN / The Dallas Morning News
There may not be a safety drafted in the first round, but quality safeties abound in the second day of every draft, and 2009 is no exception. Al Afalava, Sha'reff Rashad and Otis Wiley would be second-day value picks.
THE TOP 15
Player School Ht. Wt.
1. Louis Delmas Western Michigan 5-11 202
Noteworthy: 111 tackles in 2008
2. William Moore Missouri 6-0 221
Noteworthy: 4 career TDs on defense
3. Patrick Chung Oregon 5-11 212
Noteworthy: 2-time All-Pac 10
4. Sherrod Martin Troy 6-1 198
Noteworthy: 4.43 speed in the 40
5. David Bruton Notre Dame 6-2 219
Noteworthy: 4.40 speed in the 40
6. Rashad Johnson Alabama 5-11 203
Noteworthy: 2-time All-SEC
7. Chip Vaughn Wake Forest 6-1 221
Noteworthy: 105 tackles in 2007
8. Mike Hamlin Clemson 6-2 214
Noteworthy: 2-year captain
9. Chris Clemons Clemson 6-0 208
Noteworthy: 4.33 speed in the 40
10. Courtney Greene Rutgers 6-0 212
Noteworthy: 4-year starter
11. Darcel McBath Texas Tech 6-0 198
Noteworthy: 31 career passes defensed
12. Emanuel Cook South Carolina 5-9½ 197
Noteworthy: Former HS running back
13. Al Afalava Oregon State 5-11 207
Noteworthy: 4-year starter
14. Sha'reff Rashad Central Florida 6-0 203
Noteworthy: 14 career interceptions
15. C.J. Spillman Marshall 6-0 197
Noteworthy: 41½-inchvertical jump
(Potential first-round draft picks in bold)
Spotlight on: William Moore, Missouri
William Moore considered skipping his senior season at Missouri in 2008 to turn pro. He was coming off a spectacular junior season, setting a school record with an NCAA-leading eight interceptions. He chipped in 117 tackles, including 13 in the Cotton Bowl on his way to game defensive MVP honors.
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Moore projected as a first-round draft pick in 2008 but elected to return to Missouri for his senior season. But he wasn't the same player. Moore underwent shoulder surgery last spring and sprained ligaments in his foot in the season opener. That forced him to miss two games and slowed him in several others.
Moore probably should have waited for his foot to completely heal, but that's not his nature.
"It was my senior season," Moore said. "I'm one of those guys who leads by example. I couldn't be out five games, sit in the background and yell out, 'Be tough.' "
But his play – and draft stock – tumbled. He managed only 86 tackles and one interception while playing in a different defensive scheme. He was asked to cover slot receivers, which minimized the physical aspect of his game.
But most NFL teams went back and studied his junior tapes, allowing him to rebuild his stock this draft season. He projects as a premium pick (first three rounds).
Louis Delmas, Western Michigan
Delmas had scholarship offers from Pittsburgh and Wisconsin but chose Western Michigan for an obvious reason – opportunity. "Wisconsin and Pittsburgh wanted me to redshirt," Delmas said. "But my high school coach felt I was ready to play as a freshman, so he recommended that I go to Western." Delmas played as a freshman and was a starter all four seasons, earning first- or second-team All-MAC honors three times. He made 310 career tackles and intercepted 12 passes.
Mike Mitchell, Ohio
Another productive MAC safety without the acclaim of Delmas. Mitchell made 212 tackles and intercepted seven passes in his career. But he'll get drafted because of his measurables. He's among the biggest (221 pounds) and fastest safeties (4.46 in the 40) in this draft. He also showed his athleticism with a vertical jump of 37½ inches at his campus workout.
Best of Texas
Darcel McBath, Texas Tech
The Gainesville product has speed (4.58 40-yard dash) and coverage skills (six interceptions in 2008). He spent the 2005 season as a cornerback, and cover safeties are always a hot commodity on draft day. He started three seasons at Tech and earned All-Big 12 acclaim as a senior.
DRAFT PROJECTION: Mid rounds.
Leaving early: Of the 53 underclassmen who applied for early admission to the 2009 NFL draft, only two were safeties: South Carolina's Emanuel Cook and Miami's Anthony Reddick.
Team leaders: Rashad Johnson of Alabama and Mike Hamlin of Clemson were rare two-year captains. Tyrrell Herbert was a three-year captain at Toledo. He returned an interception a school-record 100 yards and added a second interception that set up the game-winning field goal in Toledo's upset of Michigan last fall.
Walking on: Rashad Johnson and Greg Laybourn of Oregon State were walk-ons. Johnson started for two seasons and earned All-SEC honors both years. Laybourn finished as the Pac-10's tackle leader with 111 in his only season as a starter. He also was a member of Oregon State's 2006 national champion baseball team.
Always a starter: In addition to Patrick Chung, Dahna Deleston of Connecticut, Courtney Greene of Rutgers, Mike Hamlin of Clemson, Reshard Langford of Vanderbilt and Jamarca Sanford of Ole Miss were four-year starters. Greene started a school-record 51 games, Langford 48, Deleston and Sanford 44 apiece and Hamlin 43.
Turnover-minded: Sha'reff Rashad of Central Florida shares the interception lead on this safety board with Clemson's Mike Hamlin with 14. William Moore of Missouri scored four career touchdowns on interception returns and Mississippi's Derek Pegues had three. The schedule
Offensive-minded: North Carolina's Trimane Goddard was a three-time all-state quarterback and North Carolina's Mr. Football as a senior in high school. He was a career 5,000-yard rusher as a prep. South Carolina's Emanuel Cook was a 2,027-yard rusher as a senior running back at Palm Beach Gardens High School in Florida, and William Moore set a school record at Hayti (Mo.) High with 74 career receptions for 35 touchdowns.
Patrick Chung of Oregon set a school record with tackles in 51 consecutive games. He started all 51 games he played in college and leaves as the fourth all-time leading tackler in Oregon history – and tops among nonlinebackers – with 384. Other safeties in the 300-tackle club in this draft, plus their career interception totals:
Safety School Tackles Int.
Patrick Chung Oregon 384 9
Courtney Greene Rutgers 386 2
Mike Hamlin Clemson 326 14
Chris Clemons Clemson 323 5
C.J. Spillman Marshall 319 3
Colt Anderson Montana 313 8
Louis Delmas West Michigan 310 12