I've heard a lot of talk over the past few months about this free agent safety class, the pining for a Michael Griffin or Laron Landry but apart from one person on twitter, nobody has mentioned Atlanta Falcons free agent safety Thomas DeCoud. I have absolutely no idea why, he ticks all the boxes. He is young (26), a free agent, a player coming off a productive season (86 tackles, 4 interceptions, 6 passes defended) won't command a ton of money and is a three year starter.
Oh did I mention that he specialises in being a cover safety, that's his forte. He's known as more of a centre fielder. As a 3 year starter he has 8 interceptions and four forced fumbles. He is not a polished article of course, he can be known to go for a big hit instead of wrapping up, he can take some bad angles to the football and he drops some interceptions that he should be bringing in. However he doesn't do any of the bad things as much as he covers opposing players getting into positions to make a play on the football.
I think the bottom line is that Thomas DeCoud has been improving every year with the Falcons, to a point where he had a better year in 2011 than Michael Griffin. We have safeties who can come up and play in the box and stop the run, we desperately need a safety who can make some plays on the ball in safety. A physical guy who has good size (6-2, 195lb's) who has upside.
I remember DeCoud coming out of California in 2008, he was known as a developmental player who would only improve with reps. A cover guy first and foremost who could cover tight ends and running backs coming out in the flat. He will miss some tackles because he wants to put you down and will always go for that knockout blow but if he keeps improving in the manner he has he can be a real asset in 2012 and beyond, especially for a team that needs a cover safety.
Michael Griffin gets the attention as a former first round guy and a name, and don't get me wrong I wouldn't say no to bringing him in. Laron Landry is a good football player, but better in the box than out in coverage, and again as a former first round pick and a name he is getting a lot of attention. Atlanta just tagged Grimes so DeCoud will hit free agency. I would love to bring him in.