As draft talk begins to heat up, there is tons of talk about the rams taking a safety to replace Craig Dahl with one of their first rounds pics. As of now, the concensus number one FS prospect seems to be Kenny Vaccaro out of Texas. Followed by whatever combination of Matt Elam, TJ Mcdonald, Eric Reid, and Tony Jefferson. Naturally I have spent probably way too much time on the internet researching all of these names because I watch a limited amount of college football.
After watching countless hours of film on pretty much every safety prospect, the one guy that continuously jumps out to me is Tony Jefferson out of OU. This season he led OU in tackles with 119, had 3 1/2 tackles for a loss, and 2 interceptions. While i'm not huge on numbers (particularily in college.) because they are a product of the system and supporting cast, that is pretty impressive.
Jefferson has legit 4.4 speed, is a very violent tackler, and is more than capable in run support. However, what i noticed was his uncanny ability to be in the right place at the right time. the thing that seperated jefferson from the others for me, was how he was always amount the first defenders to meet the ball carrier, regardless of position on the field. His closing speed reminds me of Janoris Jenkins, the way they can be seemingly beat, yet close incredibly fast and make a play on the ball. Also, Jefferson reads the quarterback better than any other safety in the draft, he never takes mis-steps and is rarely out of position. In addition his coverage skills are excellent and when asked to play man he looks like a corner thanks to his 4.4 speed and outstanding closing speed.
The biggest knock on Tony Jefferson is his size at 5'11" and 212 lbs. Coming into the year he was under weight but bulked up to 212, the additional muscle should allow him to be durable in the NFL. while 5'11" is not ideal for a safety, he more than makes up for it in other areas. In fact IMO if jefferson was 6'2" we would be discussing him as a top 15 pick. Ive seen too many guys get drafted that have everything necessary to succeed, yet fall because they are "too small" (drew brees, Russell Wilson, Dwight Freeny etc.) Therefore the 3 inches does not do enough to scare me away from what i feel is an elite prospect.
This is just my opninon from watching game film, he seems to be a real playmaker. I encourage you all too take a look at some file on him noteably this year against ND the way he blanketed eifert should erase concerns of his heigh stopping him from covering taller recievers.
Anyway, im just curious to see what my fellow rams fans feel about Tony Jefferson. Where would you rank him as a safety prospect? Who would you rather have?...etc