David_Wyatt already took my expected next entry in Ha Ha C-D, so there's no reason to rehash him. My second choice was to be Vic Beasley, the pass rusher out of Clemson but he returned to school. Thus, my next player for this series is Calvin Pryor, the safety out of Louisville who seems to be gaining a lot of traction, having reached the first round of both mock drafts in the NFL.com mock draft guys. When you watch the guy play some football, it's not hard to see why.
75 tackles, 5.5 TFL, 2 FF, 1 FR, 3 INT, 4 PD, 3 QB hurries
99 tackles, 2.5 TFL, 4 FF, 1 FR, 2 INT, 5 PD, 1 sack, 1 hurry
43 tackles, 3 TFL, 2 FF, 2 INT, 5 PD, 1 sack
This guy is 100% football player. I mean, obviously he plays football, but when you flip on the tape you'll see what I mean. He plays with such abandon that it is in some sense pure- like this is how football was meant to be played. He is just a flat out EXPLOSIVE hitter, the biggest hitter I've seen in the past few years. We're talking teeth-rattling hits. The type of hits that makes the pads scream out in pain. Flip on the UConn tape. The very first play shown, a sweep to the left side, Pryor comes down from his deep safety spot and hammered this kid so hard I'm surprised he didn't quit football. He straight KO'd this guy. The refs actually flagged Pryor seemingly out of pity for UConn. Think about it- the guy hit a running back, with his shoulder, in the field of play SO HARD the refs called it unnecessary roughness. Against UCF, another KO shot. I've embedded the UConn video as well as the hit against UCF for the beauty.
Calvin Pryor vs Connecticut (2013) (via Adrian Ahufinger)
Calvin Pryor Big HIT on J.J Worton - Louisville vs Central Florida 10/18/2013 (via Niti T.)
This guy is going to rack up some decleaters throughout his career. Unfortunately, in today's NFL, that likely means he'll rack up some flags and some fines as well.
He also seems to be a decent run stopper overall. His ability to close ground stuck out to me, and he gets off blocks of much bigger guys pretty well (not to mention he's fearless doing it). His biggest issue in the run game seems to be that he falls in love with the WOO! hit, rather than make a nice form tackle and sometimes players squeeze out extra yards falling forward. There's a couple bad angles that show up on the tape but I'd say probably less than most safeties. He's also an asset as a blitzer against both the run and the pass, displayed 5:35 of the Rutgers game where he slices inside and buries the RB on a blitz. I don't think there's any question he's going to be a playmaker in the box at the next level.
The biggest question with Pryor is how he is going to hold up in coverage. Pryor was technically the free safety at Louisville, but much of his time was spent in the box as he was used interchangeably with fellow NFL prospect Hakeem Smith. In the 5 games I looked it, I think I saw him play man coverage on a slot guy maybe twice. That is an up in the air question mark. Occasionally he is late in coverage, I believe sometimes due to sticking to his spot while reading the play. But he does seem to hold his responsibility over the top, and certainly can cover ground quickly. I've read that he's a 4.6 guy but I think he plays faster than that. He also can make some acrobatic plays in coverage, as seen against UCF where he nabbed a 1 handed pick in the end zone on Blake Bortles. I don't think coverage will ever be his strong suit- he doesn't have the rare speed and fluidity of a HaHa Clinton-Dix, but he covers ground and understands his coverage from what I see. It's somewhat tough to really see his coverage without access to All-22, but I don't see many WRs going over the top on Louisville when Pryor is back there.
I would say a good NFL comparison to Pryor is Dashon Goldson from Tampa. Goldson is a hellacious hitter who has nabbed a few picks because of his ability to cover ground. I think whatever team takes Pryor will benefit from the emotion and presence he provides. Nothing fires up a defense like a huge hit, particularly if there is no flag. You can't ever expect him to be an Earl Thomas type player who locks down the deep middle, but if he does turn into a Goldson, he'd be well worth a mid-late first round pick. To me, he seems like a Rex type safety. Throughout his tenure, Rex has deployed a lot of the in-the-box type safeties- Eric Smith, the Landrys, Yeremiah Bell, Antonio Allen. Rex clearly values his safety's ability to mix it up physically, and Pryor does this better than any other safety in the draft. For me, I think he could immediately take Landry's place on the defense. Landry has plodding feet that limits what the defense can do. The Jets had to grab a guy recently cut in Reed to move Landry out of his spot, and even then Landry wasn't a very good strong safety either. Pryor presents more physicality, more youth, and more speed on the back end. Depending on how the board looks, though I would prefer more of a cover guy at safety, I would be fine with the Jets taking Calvin Pryor to fill the strong safety spot.
Here is a link to Calvin Pryor's draftbreakdown page. There are 5 videos up. Check them out.