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Friday, February 1, 2013

Scouting Report: T.J. McDonald, Safety, USC



Scouting Reports On: Eric Reid -- Phillip Thomas -- Matt Elam -- Bjoern Werner -- Damontre Moore
         
           The Detroit Lions head into the 2013 off-season with many holes along their defensive. Safety is one of the key spots they must address. Strong Safety Louis Delmas is a dynamic player when on the field, but the inability to stay healthy is a concern moving forward. Same goes with Free Safety Amari Spievy, who was lost for the season with a concussion, but unlike Delmas, Spievey has yet to show much potential since switching to safety during his rookie season. Likewise, veteran Erik Coleman was ineffective in spot duty and Ricardo Silva is still growing in the system as a youngster.

          Jim Schwartz previously talked about having players with divers skill sets, allowing them to play in various spots on the field. Thimas Dimitroff, Atlanta Falcons general manager mentioned this as well when he spoke with Steve Wyche of NFL.com.

        "Ideally, we'd like to get to a situation where you have interchangeable safeties," said Dimitroff, whose expertise as a college scout was evaluating defensive backs. "Maybe one guy is the strong safety, but you can flip it. Troy Polamalu and Ed Reed, those guys are great football players who set the benchmark. It's not easy to find those guys year in and year out, but those are the type of guys that we are ultimately looking for at the safety position."

        It is certain that safety is a position Detroit will bring fresh blood into, one way or another. I have looked at film and evaluated each of the safety's the Lions will have a chance at come draft day. I discounted Baccari Rambo due to my hunch that Martin Mayhew will shy away from multiple drug related altercations, which ultimately landed Rambo a four game suspension before the season.


T.J. McDonald

Strengths: At 6'2, 211 pounds, McDonald is a very physical safety. He plays primarily in the box as the Trojans Strong Safety, and is best when covering tight ends, such as the stanford game. Very physical player in run support, showing the ability to play a hybrid linebacker position at the next level. Was a two year captain at USC, has great knowledge of the game.

Weakness: In coverage, McDonald is not as good in coverage as you'd expect a prospect regarded as the best safety entering the 2012 season. He is routinely late to his spots, when playing center field, and his hips seem tight at times. Doesn't have quickness to play with shifty slots or running backs. 

Overview: In a 3-4 scheme, T.J. McDonald would be gold. He can play the hybrid S/LB and cover tight ends and help in run support, play in the middle of the field, or spy on the leagues newest offense, in the read option, to run with quarterbacks such as Robert Griffin III, Colin Kaepernick or Russell Wilson. For the Lions, I don't see this as a good fit with Delmas strong points being in run support as well. Like I've said before, If Delmas leaves they'll need a new SS, but for now McDonald seems a long shot.

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