March 6 was the final day of drills at the NFL Scouting Combine, with the defensive backs taking to the track at Lucas Oil Stadium. In the opinion of Bucky Brooks of NFL.com, there wasn’t a young defensive back in Indianapolis who helped themselves more than LSU safety Jamal Adams.
“The pack leader squashed concerns about his speed with a solid performance in the 40-yard dash (4.56 seconds),” Brooks said. “In addition, Adams showed scouts he is far more athletic and explosive in drills than many anticipated. From his outstanding footwork and transitions in flip-and-turn drills to his fantastic burst in W-drills, Adams looks like more than a “box safety” on the turf. With the LSU star also killing it in meetings as a natural leader with a high football IQ, Adams is the alpha dog every team covets at the position.”
The 6’1″, 213-pounder, who had 76 tackles, 7.5 TFL, a sack and an interception in 2016, is ranked as this year’s top strong safety prospect according to Rob Rang of CBS Sports.
“Adams is the prototype at safety — the agility of a cornerback and the aggression and instincts of a linebacker,” Rang said. “Some will nitpick Adams for interception total — five over 37 games at LSU — but this is more a reflection of opponents’ fear in testing him. Draft him and forget about the position for the next decade.”
Rang goes on to compare Adams to Landon Collins of the New York Giants. “Adams is faster and not quite as big as the Giants’ young star safety,” he said. “But like Collins, he is an enforcer in the running game with the ball skills to make opponents pay for challenging him.”
As Lance Zierlein of NFL.com wrote, that comparison to Collins was also made by one AFC scout. “The people who have been at that program the longest think he might be the best leader LSU has had in years,” the scout said. “He’s a no-doubt first-rounder. He can play all over the field and he could have an immediate impact on defense just like Landon Collins did coming out. I love him. I think he’s a winner.”
Zierlein is a fan as well. “Interchangeable safety with a sheriff’s mentality,” he wrote. “Adams is a physical tone-setter who should thrive near the line of scrimmage or in a robber role. Should be a commanding presence in the locker room early on and his do-as-I-do play demeanor could be the catalyst for turning a struggling defense around quickly.”
Adams has no shortage of talent, and he isn’t hurting in the confidence department either. As he told
“The game is starting to change, scheme-wise, passing.” he said. “We’re starting to have tight ends that can run now; 4.42 as you see my man Evan (Engram) from Ole Miss went 4.42. (Alabama’s) OJ (Howard) as well, 4.51. You need safeties who can do everything in the back end, can cover, can make the calls, tackle, doing what the coaches are asking them to do. I feel like I’m the best guy in the draft. I feel like I should be the No. 1 pick.”
The No. 1 overall pick in the 2017 NFL draft might be overly positive thinking, but Adams all but surely isn’t making it out of the top 10 — and he may well not make it out of the top five. He really is the prototype for a modern strong safety — physical and aggressive at the point of attack while being quick and athletic enough to hang with backs and tight ends in coverage. Adams was calm under pressure as a leader of the Tigers defense, and thanks to his keen instincts and football smarts he was rarely caught out of position in Baton Rouge.
There may be some debate over whether it’s Adams or Ohio State’s Malik Hooker who is the No. 1 safety in this year’s crop, but there’s little doubt that it’s Adams who is the top IDP prospect in the secondary in 2017. His skill set is tailor-made for him to start and play full-time at strong safety from Day 1 — including plenty of time close to the line of scrimmage.
The comparisons with Landon Collins aren’t inaccurate, but asking Adams to post Collins-like fantasy production out of the gate is a bit like Adams wanting to be drafted No. 1 overall — overly positive thinking.
However, it’s not at all out of the realm of reason to project Adams as having a Keanu Neal-like impact as a rookie. Neal was sixth in fantasy points among defensive backs in Fantasy Sharks Default IDP Scoring and third in points per game.
In other words, if the chips fall right Adams could serve as a fantasy DB1 right out of the gate. I wouldn’t hesitate to pull the trigger on Adams as an upside DB2 pick in redrafts, in dynasties he’s a top 15 option barring an unforeseen catastrophe, and Adams is a relative rarity for me — a defensive back I’d consider spending a pick on in dynasty rookie drafts.