We’ll take a daily look at some of the most talked about prospects in the 2015 NFL Draft and tell you whether they’re worth the hype or not.
We’re breaking off from the rotation. Instead of flipping back to an offensive prospect, we’re sticking with defense for two consecutive days. There’s a lot more interesting defensive prospects in this draft, and we’ll focus on Arizona State safety Damarious Randall.
This is a public service announcement sponsored by Just Blaze and the good folks at Roc-A-Fella Records (not really). I went to Arizona State, and I’m pretty sure I mention that obnoxiously on Twitter in every other tweet. I do not miss a single snap of Arizona State football and schedule my Saturday travels for Vikings road games around Sun Devil football.
But yes, I am still capable of objectively analyzing Arizona State’s draft prospects – from wide receiver Jaelen Strong to Randall.
Now, back to Truth or Hype. Randall checks in at 5-11 and 196 pounds. He attended two junior colleges, initially attempting to become a baseball player but switched back to football after a shoulder injury.
The draft process has been very kind to Randall, who has seen his stock jump from a Day 3 pick, to a sure Day 2 selection and now with some mock drafts having him going late in the first round.
By The Numbers:
Junior (12 games): 71 tackles (48 solo), 5.5 tackles for loss, three interceptions, three pass defended, three forced fumbles
Senior (13 games): 106 tackles (87 solo), one sack, 9.5 tackles for loss, three interceptions, nine pass defended, two forced fumbles
He tallied up a ton of tackles in a blitz-heavy scheme at Arizona State. Randall earned first team All-Pac 12 honors last year in what was statistically a good season for him. He also returned an interception for a touchdown in each season.
NFL Combine/Pro Day results:
40-yard dash: 4.46 seconds
Bench press (225 pounds): 14 reps
Vertical: 38 inches
Broad jump: 10 feet
Randall had a good performance at the Senior Bowl and followed it up with good measurements at the NFL Combine. He had the third fastest 40-yard dash and tied for the third best vertical. Randall posted these numbers while putting on some good weight after the season.
This is where I’m shocked that Randall has been considered as a late first round pick as of late. As I’m writing this, NFL Network’s Mike Mayock moved Randall as the best safety in this draft. He’s done well on the draft preparation circuit, but the film doesn’t justify a first round pick.
Randall has good range and ball skills in coverage. It’s likely why he’s excelled so well at events like the combine and pro day. Plus he’s really aggressive, as evident against USC, either in pass coverage or as a blitzer.
And that’s the downside to Randall. There were too many moments where he either made a big play or gave up a big play depending on whether he guessed right or wrong.
He lacked discipline and wasn’t the most assignment sound player on the field. Randall has good instincts, but he just lacks the consistency you’d want from a safety. He was taking a lot of these chances knowing that ASU liked to blitz and didn’t have help if he whiffed on a gamble.
Randall also isn’t good against the run. It’s strange because he makes good tackles on passing plays but takes pretty bad angles fitting the run. The worst game Randall had at Arizona State was against Oregon State (here are the cutups from Draft Breakdown).
Randall lacks the ideal size for a safety and could possibly be viewed as a nickel cornerback by some teams. He has a lot of upside and the team that picks him must believe it can make him more disciplined in coverage and improve his tackling angles against the run. It certainly is capable, but what made Randall good in college is that almost reckless style of play. His aggressive coupled with his instincts created some pretty impressive highlights during his tenure at Arizona State.
But he’s not a first round prospect, and I don’t even think Randall should go in the second round. He’s third rounder with a lot of potential. At worst, Randall will be a really good special teams player. The lack of depth at safety in this draft will likely force a team to take a gamble in the first or second round on Randall though.
Personally, I wouldn’t pull the trigger until late in Day 2.