Earlier today I mentioned how Alabama's Landon Collins is largely considered to be the No. 1 safety prospect in the 2015 NFL Draft class. Well, so much for that.
Draft analyst Mike Mayock released his updated position rankings (Version 4.0). There aren't a ton of changes from his 3.0 version but one of the most significant alternations includes the safety position:
1. Damarious Randall, Arizona State
2. Landon Collins, Alabama
3. Shaq Thompson, Washington
4. Quinten Rollins, Miami (Ohio)
T-5. Alex Carter, Stanford
T-5. Jaquiski Tartt, Samford
Rise: Randall (3), Tartt (NR)
Fall: Collins (1), Thompson (2)
Mayock has previously noted that this year's safety crop is weak. His opinion is just one and it may or may not be shared by actual NFL teams, but it's interesting.
The Eagles brought in Randall for a pre-draft visit last month. Here's what we wrote at the time:
"The 22-year-old senior measures in at 5-11, 196 pounds. In 25 games played for Arizona State, Randall finished with 177 tackles, one sack, six interceptions, nine passes defensed, and four forced fumbles.
The Eagles have a need at safety with only Malcolm Jenkins set to return as a starter in 2015. Former Eagles safety Nate Allen signed a (surprisingly lucrative) deal with the Raiders. Other safeties on the Eagles roster include Chris Maragos, Chris Prosinski, Earl Wolff, Ed Reynolds, and Jerome Couplin. There is no clear starter in that bunch."
Here's a scouting report on Randall via NFL.com.
"Strengths - Plus athlete with good speed. Scouts love his toughness and effort. Inspired effort as a tackler, racking up 177 tackles during two-year stint at Arizona State. Looks to punish. Explodes into targets and jolts his victims. Takes very good angles in space in run support. Instinctive blitzer who times snap and has a nose for the quarterback. Senses throws underneath and breaks on them early. Highly competitive on 50/50 throws and won't give an inch to receiver. Took two interceptions for scores. Good hands -- played some wide receiver in junior college and was also an explosive returner while there.
Weaknesses - Small for safety position. Has box characteristics but lacking box size. Instincts as a free safety are average. Could be forced to play cornerback. Needs technique work in coverage. Must learn line-of-scrimmage skills and work on coordinating feet and hips. Allows wideouts to eat up cushion. Desire to attack leads to false steps against play-action. Fails to play with proper depth at times. Gets a little loose with technique as a tackler at times, causing him to miss.
Draft Projection - Round 3 or 4
Bottom Line - Randall is considered undersized for the safety position and some teams have him projected as a cornerback. While he has the speed and athletic traits to transition to cornerback, his cover skills and technique need quite a bit of work to be ready for the NFL level. Randall has a nose for the ball and a strong desire to make an aggressive tackle in space, so there could still be teams that give him a legitimate shot at safety, where he carries a higher draft grade."
Sheil Kapadia of Birds 24/7 recently wrote about Randall. Here's the conclusion he reached:
"A recent FoxSports.com mock draft had Randall going 29th overall in the first round. That would be insane to me. To be honest, the Eagles spending their second-round pick on him seems like a stretch.
The skill set, scheme fit and athleticism are there, but he doesn't have ideal size, struggles at times against the run and gives up too many big plays.
Randall could be an option in the third or fourth rounds, but if the Eagles were to snag him before then, I'd be surprised."
It's unclear why Mayock changed his rankings. He doesn't actually explain why in the post. But he did talk about Randall recently with the Daily News:
"Randall is by far the best cover safety in the draft. Because of the way Arizona State plays defense, you can see him play a ton of man-to-man, which is so helpful (in evaluating him). He’s a guy that there’s been a lot of buzz about for the last month or so. He reminds me of Jimmy Ward, who was drafted in the first round last year by San Francisco. But he’s not as physical or as good a tackler as Ward."
We'll see how the NFL views Randall when the NFL Draft takes place in less than two weeks.