NFL Draft Preview 2015: FS Damarious Randall
The Sports Quotient’s annual Draft Preview series returns! Over the course of the 10 weeks leading up to the 2015 NFL Draft, we will take a look at the top NFL prospects at each position. This week, the focus is on safeties, and today's prospect at free safety is Damarious Randall out of Arizona State University.
Coming out of high school, Damarious Randall was lightly recruited as he was actually considered a better baseball prospect, and spent over two years away from football. He started playing at Mesa Community College, where he racked up accolades and was named an NJCAA (National Junior College Athletic Association) First Team All-American. Realizing his potential, Randall soon transferred to ASU and steadily improved, with seventy-one tackles in 2013 and eighty-seven in 2014, to go along with nine pass breakups and two forced fumbles. A leader of the Sun Devils' defense, Randall started every game his senior year.
Randall has an eye for the ball as well as the ability to out-run and out-play the other side after hauling in interceptions; of his six takeaways at Arizona State, two were returned for touchdowns. The safety's stock has only risen since his college career ended with excellent senior bowl and combine showings. His 4.46 second 40 yard dash at the combine was good for third among all safeties, and Randall has gained fourteen pounds of muscle during the offseason, which he attributes to better dieting.
Certainly, a crucial element of playing safety is both the ability and desire to deliver big hits, and Randall loves to deliver. As a free safety, he is willing to put his body on the line, and will certainly bring the proper attitude to the NFL.
Although he has the mentality of a bulldog, Randall's body may not be up to snuff; at 5'11", size is certainly a concern. This will be a problem if Randall is forced to match up with some of the league's bigger receivers, an issue not helped by his overall lack of coverage skills. And the same instincts that lead him to the ball can also get him in trouble, as he will sometimes sacrifice schemes to freestyle, leading to openings in the secondary.
Although he has to improve certain aspects of his game, Randall certainly has the potential to come into the league and start for some teams. His prospects have improved throughout the offseason, and should continue to rise as the draft approaches. Currently he is ranked third, or even second, on many safetly draft boards, and with a solid pro day, his momentum should propel him into the second round.
Although a raw prospect, Randall has an eye for the ball, and could provide a much needed lift as a ball-hawk for teams such as Washington and San Diego, who both ranked near the bottom of interception rankings last season. His style of play will mesh best with a team where there is a strong safety opposite Randall to cover for his mistakes, so it would make sense to pair him with TJ Ward of the Broncos (Assuming Rahim Moore doesn't re-sign), or Eric Berry of the Chiefs.