Yesterday I posted part one of my conversation with the National Football Post's Director of College Scouting - Wes Bunting. Today I bring you part two, with our attention turning to the defensive side of the ball. The discussion in this post centers around the nose tackle and safety positions. And you'll never guess which highly regarded player Wes isn't exactly a fan of.
Matty: Moving onto the defensive side of the ball now because that's where I think the Dolphins need the most help. First off, it's been debated on The Phinsider a lot about how early to take a nose tackle, and in particular, Dan William because it seems like he was more of a one-year wonder. He wasn't on many teams' radars before his senior season and especially before the Senior Bowl. What are your thoughts on this?
Wes: That's a great call. Dan Williams, one-on-one, the guy has great lower body power. As a bull-rusher, he can push the pocket. I don't think he's the type of dominant interior run defender he's being made out to be. If I need a 3-4 nose, I'm going with Terrence Cody - bar none. I think that 12 is a bit high for both guys.
I could see Miami looking later in the draft at guys like Cam Thomas from North Carolina, Al Woods from LSU, maybe Torrell Troup from Central Florida - some mid-round guys. Nose tackles fly off the board pretty quickly because of the demand. But at 12, I think that's a little too early for both Williams and Cody.
Matty: Now as far as safeties go, I love Eric Berry. There's no chance Berry falls to number 12 because safeties sometimes get overlooked early in the draft, is there? Do you think there's any way Berry slides?
Wes: No, I really don't. When push comes to shove, he's one of the few elite talents in this draft. And talent rules on draft day. We've seen Michael Huff - he was a top ten pick. Sean Taylor, LaRon Landry, Roy Williams - the top elite talents perceived in the NFL and they do very high on draft day. I can't see Berry getting past Cleveland. I think he's in play with Scott Pioli in Kansas City at five. I think at three that Tampa Bay could consider him. In my opinion, there's no way he falls past Cleveland at number seven.
Matty: Didn't think so. So what do you think about Earl Thomas? And is his lack of ideal size a concern?
Wes: Yeah, he really scares me. I'm not in the norm with everyone. I don't have him graded nearly as high as everyone else. He played a lot in the slot at Texas. He has good ball skills and can redirect in space. He obviously has a nose for the football. He's a ball-hawk who could play in the "center field" type role.
But if you're drafting a safety high, he better win for you in the run and the pass game. Thomas will win for you in the pass game. But you look at him in the game against Alabama, the guy struggled any time he had to tackle inside the box. He doesn't have the power to break down in space. Granted, Mark Ingram makes everyone miss. But I just really have my concerns about him in the run game. I wouldn't draft him any time before the second round.
But like I said, I'm not in the norm with him. I don't think he's an elite-caliber prospect.
Matty: So then what safeties in the second or third round do you like? Nate Allen? Morgan Burnett? Somebody like that?
Wes: Yeah, I like Nate Allen a lot. Watching his balance, his footwork, his body control - he looked like one of the most fluid defensive backs at the Senior Bowl. Morgan Burnett is another talented guy - great size and instincts, redirects real well. I like Major Wright a lot. I also like Chad Jones from LSU. Now he hasn't tested out as well as many people thought. I thought that he'd run in the 4.4 range, to be honest, after watching some tape of him. But the guy has "football speed." He's a lot more fluid in space than a guy like Taylor Mays even though they're both about the same size. All three of those guys have great potential as impact-caliber starters at the NFL level.