Darius West, S
School: Kentucky | Conference: SEC
College Experience: RS Senior | Age: 23?
Height / Weight: 5-10 / 208 lbs
Projected Draft Status: 6th or 7th round
NFL Comparison: Armani Watts
Darius West, a 4-star recruit back in 2014 committed to Kentucky in large part because his best friend, teammate, and fellow draft prospect Mike Edwards committed to the program a few months earlier. The formed a formidable safety tandem on the backend of the Kentucky defense. West’s career didn’t start off smoothly though. He’s had injuries that date back to his high school days. He broke his right tibia twice in two years (his junior and senior year in high school). He broke his right leg again when he got to Kentucky in 2014 and had to redshirt. In 2016 he injured his patella tendon (in his other leg). That is a slew of lower leg injuries but when West has been healthy he has been a leader and high performer for the Wildcats on defense. He lead the team in interceptions this year. He was regarded as one of the vocal leaders of the team and an “Alpha” on defense. West has shown that he takes pride in his physicality on the field and his ability to make plays. He played free safety and also showed some skills in pass coverage and had the ability to make turnovers. West is healthy now and there were no red flags at his medical checkup at the combine. He’ll likely move to strong safety in the NFL because of physicality and his lack of burst and range but if he remains healthy West will see playing time on Sundays.
- Good size, physicality, and speed for the position.
- Unafraid as a tackler and will come downhill and get into the scrum. Technically played FS but found himself in the box a lot to help in run support. Shows decent technique as a tackler and can generate some power behind his hits.
- Took a step forward as a coverage defender this year. Showed improved positioning, vision, and awareness while in coverage and timed his breakups well. Made some crucial interceptions this year and lead the team in that category. Hands look good.
- Vocal leader on his team who plays with intensity. Credited with being on on the tone setters on defense.
- A lot of lower leg injuries specifically with his right leg.
- Shows stiffness in back peddle, lacks flexibility, and acceleration to exhibit the range needed to play FS in the NFL will have to move to the box. Read and react ability is a step slow and in deep center coverage he can be late with help.
- Doesn’t have innate ability and instincts to recognize routes much less ‘run the route’ for the opposing player.
- Will be 24 in July slightly older than the average rookie because of his injury history.
Let’s see his work:
Darius West comes up with the huge interception in the fourth quarter. (2018) pic.twitter.com/XrWRuHAEkR— KY Clips™️ (@KY_Clips) September 9, 2018
Darius West with the big hit to cause the incompletion. pic.twitter.com/xPX141EQyS— KY Clips™️ (@KY_Clips) September 24, 2018
How He Would Fit On The Redskins
West has some nice positives to work with when it comes to his leadership, ball skills, and physicality but he lacks key athletic abilities and key cerebral abilities in terms of recognizing clues in pass coverage to be a starter in the NFL. That said he will be on an NFL team after the draft and not only would be a fine backup and special teams player but he could potentially see time on the field as a dime LB or something else in another sub package. The Redskins have their starter in the box in Landon Collins but still need to add depth at the position to compete with Apke and Everrett. He would be more fit than either of those two to play Dime LB if the team so chooses. With time West could become better at diagnosing coverages and route patterns and could see the field playing some cover one. West’s injury history should be a concern with so many occurrences but he may have slightly better luck now that he is a grown man and will be exposed to an NFL strength, nutrition, and conditioning program. The Redskins could roll the dice on him late in the draft and could be rewarded with a value player or burned by a guy who breaks his leg again.