In the upcoming 2020 NFL Draft, the Browns are going to have to go hunting for complimentary pieces to their Free Agent haul of the recent weeks. One of the position rooms that Andrew Berry has re-tooled this off-season has been the Safety room.
Prior to Free Agency, Cleveland only had one solitary safety under contract in Sheldrick Redwine. Along with cutting Morgan Burnett, Justin Burris and both Damarious Randall, Eric Murray leaving for pastures new. The Browns needed to pad out that room and they did so signing Karl Joseph & Andrew Sendejo. However, Joe Woods is likely to want Safeties that are various and plenty. You would have to think that this will be an area that could see one if not two safeties drafted on April 23rd.
I have discounted that the Browns will take one of the top 2/3 Safeties (McKinny, Delpit or Dugger) as the needs at Offensive Tackle is too great, but I have taken a look into the later rounds to see what may lay in store for Cleveland in this solid deep Safety class.
College: Cal (Senior)
Former Track Star with varying predictions on him. A Groin injury plaguing him consistently through the draft cycle. Not being able to perform at the Senior Bowl or the combine may or may not hinder his draft stock. One of the many that also may suffer from the COVID-19 disruption, as he was planning to showcase his trackability in Cal’s Pro Day, but alas this is not unlikely to go ahead.
Medicals will be his biggest savior, as looking at his tape it is apparent that he was a track star, you don’t need to be an experienced NFL Scout to see that type of athleticism and speed. A really smooth runner with a great turn of hips. Super flexible and mirrors in pass protection very well. Born to play the single high Saftey role. His lack of experience playing football may also play into some trepidation from the front offices. Also slightly undersized at 202lbs, and as is a trait with a lot of the safeties in this draft missed tackles can come back to hinder him. Having missed 8 tackles last year, accounting for 12% of all of his tackles.
Davis works well in the box from a run-standpoint, with the 4th highest Solo Tackles at 35 with a market share of just under 7%. On a Cal team that had the tackle-a-Saurus Evan Weaver, this is not bad. He performed well in coverage also and was entrusted with snaps predominantly as a Free Safety. 409 with 120 snaps in the Box, with as many as a Slot Corner. His box scores were better in 2018, where he had a career-high 4 INTs and 5 PDs. In 2019 he finished with 2 INTs and 4 PDs, but his positioning over the middle, his range, and his instincts confound the fact that he had no other qualifying offers coming out of High School.
For me, I would pick Davis up in Round 2 or Round 3 and laugh all the way. In the knowledge that the traits this guy exudes…don’t grow on trees.
College: Southern Illinois (Senior)
The genie is out of the bottle with Jeremy Chinn. Draftniks will be well aware of him since he went to Moblie, Alabama and impressed at the Senior Bowl. A lengthy and displaying hybrid Linebacker type, while he has a specific set of tools that are proving intriguing as the Draft cycle goes on. Smart academically and all the info back from the Combine was that he spoke well, and those that he met were left in no doubt that he has the brains to match the body.
As mentioned, Chinn has great length and his 32 1/8” arms will help also. Timed 40 meters of 4.45, and he displayed an athletic profile that beguiles his 221lb frame. On tape, there are no concerns about his competitive spirit and even though he plays at a lower level his effort shone through.
He does have a few knocks though, on tape his 4.45 speed doesn’t always shine through and can be step or two slower. The level of competition may cause his stat sheet to be fools gold, even considering you can only face what’s put in front of you. Scheme will be important for him. At Southern Illinois, it has been said that he was not asked to play a lot of varied coverages, and he is better at stopping people over the middle as opposed to mirroring them in coverage. Saying that he accumulated 4 INTs, along with 3 PBUs, and 71 total tackles. His 48 solo tackles give him a 10.1 solo tackle share and landed him at 2nd overall in tackles for 2019.
He is going to need to develop and be schemed as he gains tenure in the NFL. He will have his suitors but many of them will need to impart the nuances of different coverages on him for him to reach his full potential. Someone is also going to want to convert him to a Linebacker but looking at his snap count for the last year he saw more snaps as a Free Safety (276 snaps) and a Big Nickel (202 Snaps) . Did I hear Big Nickel…….. going to intrigue Joe woods of that I’m sure.
Antoine Brooks Jr.
College: Maryland (Senior)
This Senior out of Maryland is like an Exocet missile when he gets going. Too small for a traditional coverage safety but big enough to lay the timber on you, and he definitely does that. During his 2019 term in Maryland, he totaled 87 total tackles with 69 Solo tackles totaling 11.7% tackle share last year, according to PFF. In saying that, he has missed his fair share of tackles he missed 9 last year which was his best year but the previous year he missed 17 tackles while only totaling 58 so this may spook teams if it turns out that he has not fully learned from his 2018 season.
Brooks is going to be a box safety and essentially will rotate between Strong Safety and Middle Linebacker in the NFL. In 2019 he took snaps almost 50/50 between Run Defense (404) and Coverage (395). I personally would not be playing him in coverage at the next level. He has been shown to lose players especially TEs over the middle. Hips are not flexible enough and he does not mirror runs in man coverage. Also his 4.64 40 time is what you see on tape when he gets into the open field. He could play as a Slot Corner closer to the line of scrimmage and lined up there 496 times in 2019 as opposed to 159 at Strong Safety and 108 as a Deep Safety.
He will be versatile and his skill set will be coveted by coaches in the NFL. Think of Jabril Peppers lite, very lite, he will not stop from a motor point of view, but his skill set is closer to the line than further back. He is an accomplished blitzed and squirms through gaps really well. He would be a highlight player and fans will love his hits, effort and endeavor and his work ethic will click with NFL coaches also. Definite consideration from Round 4 onwards.
The Browns will be busy in their draft room scouring the talent for safeties. It is an area that has the most bandaids over it this year, and one I hope they will attack in the draft. Looking at the 10 safeties in this series, remember these are not in any particular order. There is some good talent deep in this draft for what the Browns want. Getting them at a premium draft value and to fit their scheme is the key.