Earlier in the year, I compared Eric Berry with Dale Carter. The comparisions are interesting and telling. Both players played safety at the University of Tennessee. Both players had very good cover skills. Yet, without a blink Dale Carter was drafted as a cornerback and Eric Berry was drafted as a safety. Was it a difference in skills or a difference in the NFL? I tend to think it’s a difference in the NFL game today as opposed to 1992 when Dale Carter was drafted.
The NFL is going through a period where the passing game is becoming more prominent. While I much prefer the game when the defense was allowed to, well, play defense. The game is what the game is. The powers that be want to protect their money generated players. So, many hits on a quarterback are outlawed and receivers get a lot of free rein to roam. One advantage of drafting an Eric Berry type and playing him at safety gives a defense flexibility to match up against three wide receiver sets without bringing in a nickle back.
That is all well and good when you have someone like Eric Berry with a pretty special skill set. However, there are more clues about the Chiefs that paints an even more interesting picture. We are seeing more and more cornerbacks (recently Donald Washington and Maurice Leggett) working out at safety. Is it because they are failing as cornerbacks or is something else going on?
From my point of view, what appears to be happening is that the Chiefs are favoring a generic ‘defensive back’ as opposed to the cornerback and safety distiction. That is, we may be running three, four, five or even six defensive backs all with decent cover skills to match up against the three and four wide receiver sets some teams use.
Given all that, it appears that the traditional strong safety position doesn’t really exist for the Chiefs. That is, the larger, more run support oriented safety might not be a player type we may even put on the field regularly, if at all.
At least, that’s my take on it. But, I want to know what you think. Do you think we are going to a generic defensive back? That is looking for defensive backs with good cover skills over the more traditional strong safety? Or, is this an over reaction to drafting Eric Berry and working out some corners at safety? Is it possible that this idea played a role in getting rid of Bernard Pollard?