The name DeAngelo Hall invokes a palpable ire in some people and a die-hard fondness in others..and sometimes we have felt like that all in one game. There are some who are ready tar and feather then release the guy and his bloated contract and some who think that the safety position had a lot to do with DHall's woes this season. But there is one draft scenario we have yet to theorize.
That is: What if DeAngelo Hall moved to safety? Don't hurt me. Just hear me out. Hall's match up skills one-on-one are somewhat dwindling. Especially in press coverage. He also tends to lose the receiver the longer the play goes on. You know, when the pass rush is anemic. Anyway, I think one of the reasons is because he takes his eyes off the receiver and, in trying to make a play, looks at the QB after he thinks the play should have ended. Being moved to FS would allow him to do that without the liability of losing the defender in coverage. Hall's instincts in the backfield are still the best in that unit at this time so what better way to take advantage of that? I think the best way to address the problem of Hall's coverage issues while still taking advantage of his instincts would be to move him to Free Safety. Hall wouldn't have coverage responsibilities but could sit about 17-19 yards off the line of scrimmage and react off of certain keys in a given situation allowing him to react and make plays, which he is still capable of doing. Just not matched up on the WR full time. He is a decent tackler but I wonder about his durability at that position. (Charles Woodson)
That leads me to draft scenarios with Hall making the move to free safety. We already know Hall's weaknesses and strengths so I don't think we can immediately pencil him in as the starter on day 1 in OTA's. That would dictate us first, signing a veteran FS on the cheap to go into OTA's and mini-camp with what with all the youth and inexperience we will have back there. Heck, I think we should sign a veteran FS in ANY scenario, for that matter. Anyway, we would have someone to teach the rookies and Hall about correct angles and responsibilities all spring and training camp. Because of Hall's natural ability and experience in the speed of the game (or lack thereof at this point some might say) he should be ready to at least compete in training camp sooner than the rookies we draft. The competition for week 1 starter at FS would still be wide open between the rookie FSafeties, Hall, and the veteran FA FS we bring in. Not to mention Tanard Jackson, who comes back in week 1. I think that would give us plenty of options going into training camp at the FS position.
So with that in mind, I think we could draft a hybrid FS/SS in the 2nd round. Phillip Thomas would give us the flexibility to pair him with Hall. Thomas could drop to SS with Hall playing over the top at FS. I question Hall's range though because we've never seen it at the position. So that might mean the veteran FS and Hall might split the duties or Jackson, once he returns. I do think Jackson can help us once he returns but it will be late October, early November before we can expect him to really be effective though after going on vacation for a year and being away from football. So I think in this scenario of Hall moving to FS and Temard Jackson and Brandon Merriweather possibly coming back it could make the picks at DB look something like this:
2nd Phillip Thomas FS, Fresno State
3rd Kenjon Barner RB/KR/PR-(WR?) or Ryan Swope or yep, you guessed it. Kenny Stills WR
4th Shemarko Thomas SS, Syracuse - or another hybrid SS/FS - Bacarri Rambo Georgia
4th Duke Wiliams FS Nevada/Shawn Williams SS Georgia
5th John Jenkins NT Georgia - I think this mountain of player can rotate in with Cofield and anchor the DL. That'll help the pass rush immediately. 6'3'' 350 LBS He has stamina issues (surprise, surprise), that's why I think he falls this far. Stamina would be less of an issue with us because he would be rotating with Cofield and Baker. Or a CB right here would do nicely
6th Dan Quisenberry - LG
7th Sio Moore LB
I think that if we take Phillip Thomas in the 2nd we wrap up our FS issue and still have insurance against Jackson, should he not return or is ineffective and we also have a veteran FS and Hall back there. Now, when it comes to SS I would like to see a bruiser taken. Someone that smashes the line of scrimmage and can help in the run game especially on Orakpo's side and roam, what I like to call, the big play area. behind the LB and in front of Safeties. Someone like Shamarko Thomas would be ideal in this scenario because he could definitely fit that job description. Shawn Williams offers that plus slightly better coverage skills which come in handy on 2nd and 8 situations where the run and the pass are still a possibility. He also works well with the FS in before-snap adjustments. So at any given time we could match up at CB, guard against the run, and have coverage over the top. With our solid front 7 IMO, I think our deficiencies in pass coverage would potentially be solved. This scenario is contingent upon Merriweather and eventually Jackson coming back in to the fold. With all the inexperience back there it's going to be paramount that we have some veteran leadership to anchor what could be an explosive group. Potentially.
The time for Hall to make the switch couldn't be better. I think he is on the cusp of the twilight of his career where his skills have just started to diminish and usually press coverage is where it shows up first because of the physicality. We need FS help and with his instincts and penchant for playing off the QB, the time couldn't be better for this to happen. He wouldn't be counted on in a starting role immediately he could still provide depth at CB and we still have his instincts (which are the best in the secondary) to take advantage of. Hall, along with the 2 question marks in Merriweather and Jackson, would give us lot of room to be creative and gives us insurance with personnel and coverage schemes so that we aren't simply putting all our eggs in the basket of rookies and we can move them in to roles depending on their development as opposed to pushing them into starting and having to deal with the mistakes. We all know the spotlight will be on the defensive backfield and if you don't draft a DB until the late 3rd and he's not a stud and immediate starter, you are asking for a lot of trouble. If you draft a FS in the third and you know he's a project and you force him to start or you gamble that he can be effective, knowing he's a project, you are setting the team and those kids up for expectations that low 3rd or in some mocks, 4th round draft picks (projects) can't live up to.
So I think we should use this draft to be creative in first getting a starting caliber FS, a bruiser against the run at SS, and be open to any veteran leadership and depth we can add to the inexperience we will definitely have coming in this year. So I will leave you with this cliff hanger: what would be the impact on the rest of I if we traded UP to get a FS AND a CB in the 2nd? Stay tuned for the answer.