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NFL Draft Prospect: Jamal Adams in 5 plays

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Southern Miss v LSU Photo by Sean Gardner/Getty Images

Jamal Adams is the ultimate “safe” pick. Listed at 6’1 213 pounds he has the underneath cover skills of a slot corner. He comes downhill against the run as if whoever is in front of him had just grabbed his girlfriend's butt right in front of him. It feels nitpicky when talking about where Adams lacks at. He truly does everything right. He’s not as aggressive in centerfield as he is in the box. He could play more under control against the run, which would lead to better angles. He launches himself every now and then which doesn’t lead to a sure tackle. He could’ve caught/made at least 3 interceptions and that’s being kind.

To change it up today, I'm going to show you 5 plays. The first play I want to show you the type of physicality he plays with. It’s from the 1st game of the season against Wisconsin. Adams doesn’t look 213, but this is what I mean when I say somebody insulted his mother to his face.

Teammates notice these things. That combative play-style rubs off. It fires everyone else up. That’s a trademark of Adams. You’ll notice throughout games he’s getting guys lined up, holding them accountable after bad plays. He’s a leader.

Adams has the best instincts/recognition I’ve seen. Not just for a safety, but for any player in the draft. Recognizing route concepts is one thing but being able to read and react is another. This example below helps put Adams ability to understand patterns.

In the slot to the bottom of the screen, Adams is responsible for the #2 WR running a curl. It’s a rub route so his man is trying to pick both he & the DB to Adams right. Adams diagnoses this before his man even gets to the top of the route. No hesitation at all. He breaks on the ball and breaks up a would-be touchdown. Doesn’t seem like much but when you realize everything going on, it’s a great play.

Adams awareness against the run makes it hard to argue. Against Alabama, he sniffed plays out right and left. He didn’t always finish, and you can’t ignore that, but him putting himself in position to make plays a tick faster than the majority of safeties is a skill. Processing plays is absolutely a skill. Being a good athlete like he is helps, but since he can see things before it happens he gets to spots he really has no business getting to. Look at this play against Louisville.

Seriously? That’s athleticism chasing down 1 of the fastest players in college football on 2nd & 1 for a tackle behind the line of scrimmage.

I mentioned Adams isn’t as sure of himself the further away he gets from the ball. In the grand scheme of things, that’s what is preventing him from being a top 10 pick. He’s “safe”, he’s not flashy. Flashy is usually what goes what goes in the top 10 based on NFL standards.

I’m a huge fan of Adams but by all accounts, the safeties that go this high are usually the ones who are 4.3 fast or have some supernatural skill. Adams isn’t that guy, and there’s nothing wrong with it.

Budda Baker’s upside is a smidge higher than Adams on the strength that he’s made more plays on the ball & gets better jumps as a deep safety, but I’m not even taking him top 10.

Would I be upset if Adams was selected at 7? Not at all. Safe isn’t always bad. Last years 1st round pick was safe and he damn near led the league in sacks. Adams has a knack for being in the right place. He’s seemingly always where he needs to be. If I had to describe Adams in 1 word it’s sound.

There are a few times a game where Adams is 1-on-1 and he finishes.

Adams missed 4 more tackles in is career than Malik Hooker misses in 2016. Finishing matters.

I’ve seen people question Adams long speed, but I also saw him run stride for stride in the slot with Alabama’s Ardarius Stewart, who will run sub 4.45 in the 40. Speed isn’t an issue for Adams. He’s just not....sexy. I think that’s what’ll hurt Adams draft stock. His play style is fun and when he does make a play, he’ll be the 1st to let you know. Even if it’s not flashy. This final play is what you’re getting with Adams.

BB

3rd & short, he could’ve easily gone with the slot WR. Instead, he recognizes #3 coming in motion across the formation and comes up to stop the play short of a first down. To me, that’s a stellar play.

The Fit

Gus Bradley will interchange his safeties but you’ll see a safety up around the line of scrimmage at all times. That’s Adams. Playing roughly 2 yards outside on the tight end and being a force against the run, making open field tackles, and taking away coverage underneath. Is that worth the 7th overall pick? That’s the debate.