Dan Pompei makes a pretty good case for making safety a top defensive priority in today’s NFL for Sports on Earth:
“Athletic safeties are becoming weapons in their own right. In fact, a defensive coordinator really can’t be much of a mad scientist unless he has some explosive safeties in his lab. Versatile safeties are the key to a creative defense.
“Last year the Saints chose safety Kenny Vaccaro with the 15th pick in the first round of the draft. Rob Ryan played him all over the field, having him cover the slot receiver, blitz, play linebacker and be the last line of defense. [Former Tamp Bay general manager Mark] Dominik believes more safeties are blitzing these days, in part because they sometimes are being lined up over the flexed tight end. That can give the safety a short path to the quarterback and a chance at a sack as long as the defense can roll coverage behind him.”
“[Baltimore general manager Ozzie Newsome said,] ‘You need guys who are multi-dimensional with the way the game is changing.'”
Pompei is pushing all of my buttons in this article. Two weeks ago I would have told you that I wasn’t too thrilled with the idea of the Bears drafting a safety in the first round. But the more I think about it, the more it becomes apparent to me that if general manager Phil Emery’s guy is there in the early rounds, he’ll go in this direction.