A standout five-star high school talent turned All-American selection in Baton Rouge, 21 year old, do-it-all safety prospect Jamal Adams has set the bar high for the safety position ahead of the 2017 NFL Draft, beginning on Thursday 27th April.
When scouting Adams with a critical eye, what immediately stands out is his perfectly put together, athletic but hugely strong physique, now de riguer emerging from the collegiate ranks, in the vein of Ohio State’s former defensive backs Von Bell, Eli Apple and further to Green Bay’s Ha-Ha Clinton-Dix.
Footballing prowess courses through Adam’s veins, his father George a first round NFL draft selection himself back in 1985, selected sixth by the New York Jets. His heritage goes significantly towards explaining the outstanding vision and awareness he plays with, despite still being an underclassman himself.
The Lewisville, Texas native is, in my opinion, one of the most intelligent football talents in all of America and it is his heady play and sharp diagnostic skills that jump off the screen, his radar like vision and predictive ability so seldom witnessed over the years in scouting collegiate talent. A key play that perfectly illustrated his cerebral capabilities was in the always hotly contested battle against fierce rivals Alabama. Here he diagnosed and processed exactly the intentions of the play called by opposing offensive coordinator Lane Kiffin (now head coach at Florida Atlantic) the very second the ball was snapped into the hands of freshman quarterback, Jalen Hurts.
The first year starter, rolled out to his right and at that very moment in sequence, Adams moved into position thirty five yards towards the sideline to be in perfect position to pick off the throw. Incredible awareness, diagnosis and anticipation to be in the right place at the right time, perfectly incapsulating a gift that jumped off the screen with outstanding regularity during his career in Baton Rouge, proven against the very talent in the country.
At 6’0″ and 213 lbs, Adams boasts pleasing size on a perfectly put together, highly athletic physique utilising it in combination with his high intensity, pumped up on-field demeanour to maximum effect. An attacking safety who takes the game to the opposition, is at his best when anticipating and reacting to fly downfield and meet the ball carrier head on, backed by a consummate fire in his belly and a love of the game that shines through when watching the Tigers this season.
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However, while his diagnostic interpretation of the opposing offense is outstanding, his movement ability and fleet of foot are on a par. Adams’ smooth athleticism makes a mockery of the space he covers, simply rendering the field to appear to be so small and by far one of the most gifted movers I have ever scouted. Whichever direction the play is headed, he arrives simply out of nowhere, either attacking downhill or in pursuit to the sideline to make the big hit in just a few instant steps, akin to a computer game.
One note of caution is his penchant now and again to become overly aggressive and commit himself prematurely, missing the tackle, but this does not concern me going forward. Once in the NFL this will be ironed out it is wise to not coach the energy and intensity he brings to the defence out of his game. It is certainly something that can be fine-tuned, but not a major concern in my eyes.
The three-year starter can truly do it all and looks more than comfortable lining up up in the box and at the point of attack, while just as adept in pass coverage. Again calling on his vision and awareness, he identifies quickly the correct time to turn his hips effortlessly to drop deep and/or mirror routes, maintaining impressively sticky coverage, matching the receiver step for step. His fluidity, quick foot turnover and agility stand out to maintain his characteristically sticky coverage jumps out on a consistent basis.
Following in his father’s footsteps, Adams is the finest talent bar none at the safety position, a deep and talented group in the 2017 NFL Draft class. His ability to impress in every facet of the position, simply outstanding movement ability, not to mention packing a punch with a love of the game that shines through, the junior certainly chose the perfect moment to forgo his senior campaign. I have no doubt the former SEC standout will be a star from the moment the 2017/18 NFL season kicks off. Look for Jamal Adams to hear his name called within the top five selections later this month.
Jacksonville, I hope you do the right thing.
Credit: John David Mercer/USA Today
If you enjoyed this you can read our scouting reports on all the eligible draft prospects in the 2017 edition of our NFL Draft Guide, available here from the 1st April (All proceeds are donated to Muscular Dystrophy UK) (£5).