|04-16-2007, 01:21 PM||#1|
Join Date: Sep 2003
Location: Saratoga, NY
One more season vaulted Landry to top of draft stock
By Tom Pedulla, USA TODAY
USA TODAY will preview a different position each weekday until the NFL draft on April 28. Today we explore safeties.
Also in this story: Best prospects available and teams in need of safeties.
METAIRIE, La. — Safety LaRon Landry ultimately paid attention to his heart rather than his wallet when he decided to return to LSU for his senior season.
After being advised he would probably be a second-round choice if he entered the draft as a junior, Landry agonized until the deadline before deciding there was more to accomplish by returning to the Baton Rouge campus he loved.
"I always had it in my heart," he says, "to go back and be a leader and finish strong with my senior class."
His willingness to put the NFL on hold could not have worked out better. His stock has soared. He's projected as a possible top-10 selection and regarded as the premier player at his position.
PHOTOS: Best prospects at defensive back
"The difference between a possible second-rounder and an early first-round draft choice in guaranteed money could be a $15 (million) to $20 million difference," says Joel Segal, his agent. "His decision to stay for his senior season was a financial win."
While the money will be nice, Landry says he's driven by more than the prospect of a big paycheck. Thoughts of waiting until the second round to hear his name called as a junior didn't sit well with him.
"He was a little upset with how people saw him," says Bo Pelini, LSU's defensive coordinator. "They were talking about other guys. I think he saw himself as the best out there and he wanted to solidify himself in a slot where he believed he should have been."
The 6-2, 202-pounder showed he could be a force against the run and the pass in topping LSU with 74 tackles, including a team-best 46 solo hits. Beyond that, he played big in big games — recording a season-high 12 tackles and blocking a punt vs. eventual national champion Florida. He was part of the Sugar Bowl party with six tackles and an interception as the Tigers slammed Notre Dame 41-14.
Landry had shown promise all along. He started for LSU as a freshman in 2003, helping the Tigers to win it all. He went on to start his last 48 games.
His 12 career interceptions are tied for third all-time in school history. His 40 passes defensed trail only Corey Webster (49). He paced LSU in tackles in three of his four seasons and finished with 315, a total that ranks seventh all-time for the Tigers.
Landry, 22, is accustomed to competing at a high level. For years, his struggle to be the best started at home.
Dawan, his older brother by two years, emerged as one of the NFL's most promising rookies last season. Despite being a fifth-round draft choice, he soon became a starter for the Baltimore Ravens at safety and finished with 89 tackles to go with five interceptions and three sacks.
The brothers agree LaRon was the more athletic of the two growing up. But he needed Dawan, who played for Georgia Tech, to teach him the importance of the mental aspect.
"He always emphasized watching game tape on your opponent, studying very well," LaRon says. "If you really get to know your opponent … it will give you an advantage.
"When I was growing up in high school, I always let my God-given talent carry me."
Now, Pelini describes Landry as the "total package."
"He's a tremendous character kid with a great family background. He receives tremendous support from his family, and it shows," he says.
Given Dawan's immediate impact for Baltimore, expectations will be high for LaRon. Pelini thinks it is a matter of time before he's a Pro Bowler. "I expect to see him some day playing in Hawaii," he says.
MORE OF THE BEST SAFETY PROSPECTS
—Reggie Nelson, Florida
• Ht.: 6-0, Wt.: 198
• Scouting report: Academic woes forced him to junior college before he reached Florida. Will have to prove he can handle mental aspects of the NFL. Played major role in starting all 14 games for eventual national champs last season. Coverage skills are outstanding. Closes on ball extremely well. Has chance to be special teams ace with knack for blocking kicks.
• Quotable: "He sees the ball well and has great ball instincts. (But) for an elite athlete, he misses too many tackles. I don't know how well he will transition to a sophisticated NFL scheme." —Mike Mayock, NFL Network analyst
• Projected round: First
—Michael Griffin, Texas
• Ht.: 6-0, Wt.: 202
• Scouting report: Has all the skills necessary to excel. Possesses excellent range and quickness. Tough, physical player who doesn't back down from challenges. Special teams standout with extraordinary ability to block kicks. Led stellar Texas defensive backfield by example. Both parents retired from military.
• Quotable: "He had an inconsistent senior year but he's a physical football player with good straight-line speed. I thought he got beaten deep too often on play-action type passes, which worries me a bit." —Mayock
• Projected round: First
—Eric Weddle, Utah
• Ht.: 5-11, Wt.: 203
• Scouting report: His versatility commands attention. Played cornerback, safety, quarterback, running back, holder, punt and kick returner and punt and kick coverage for Utes. Some teams left Senior Bowl thinking he might be the best pure athlete in this draft. Had 18 interceptions at Utah. Above-average ability to absorb whatever is thrown his way.
• Quotable: "His versatility helps. I was impressed with him the entire week at the Senior Bowl. He was around the football all the time."—Mayock
• Projected round: Third
—Brandon Meriweather, Miami (Fla.)
• Ht.: 5-11, Wt.: 195
• Scouting report: Questions about character may overshadow talent. Was seen stomping opponents in brawl with Florida International. Was involved in shooting incident before that. Has all of the physical tools. Fluidity of movement, ability to change direction almost instantly, allow him to command large part of field.
• Quotable: "He's got some off-the-field issues. As far as a football player, I think he's one of the best man-to-man defenders among the entire safety class. He can almost play corner, his skills are so good." —Mayock
• Projected round: First
—Sabby Piscitelli, Oregon State
• Ht.: 6-3, Wt.: 224
• Scouting report: Plays with high motor to compensate for relative lack of certain physical skills. Ability to read quarterbacks and good closing speed allowed him to finish with 15 career interceptions for Ducks. On negative side, lacks the fluidity of many other top prospects at his position, contributing to belief that he can be hurt deep. Not considered a good one-on-one tackler in open field.
• Quotable: "He had one of the best (scouting) combines of any player there from a measurables perspective." —Mayock
• Projected round: Second
TEAMS IN NEED AT SAFETY
• Houston Texans: The Texans have countless weaknesses after another losing (6-10) season. Play-making safeties would help point them in the right direction. Houston produced only 11 interceptions, leading to a minus-3 turnover ratio. It ranked just 24th defensively, 22nd vs. the pass. The good news is that second-year middle linebacker DeMarco Ryans is a rising star to build around.
• Jacksonville Jaguars: While Jacksonville has greater areas of concern, it will need to make a move toward replacing capable safety Deon Grant, who joined the Seattle Seahawks as a free agent. Safeties who can cover ground must be a priority in the AFC South, where Peyton Manning heads the Indianapolis Colts and Vince Young will be a long-ball threat for the Tennessee Titans for years to come. The Jaguars pick 17th and are well-stocked with nine picks overall.
• New England Patriots: New England has a pair of first-round picks (24th and 28th) after dealing wide receiver Deion Branch to the Seattle Seahawks early last season. If there is a given in this draft, it might be that one of those choices will be dedicated to a safety. Michael Griffin of Texas and Reggie Nelson of Florida are both being mentioned prominently. New England allowed 330 passing yards in the AFC Championship Game and 34-year-old Rodney Harrison has had health issues.
• New York Giants: New York thought it had plugged a hole at safety when it signed free agent Will Demps last offseason. But he was a major disappointment in a defensive backfield filled with them. Cornerback Corey Webster has been slow to develop while Sam Madison is in decline. The bottom line was that the Giants finished 28th vs. the pass.
• Philadelphia Eagles: Safety Michael Lewis must be replaced after he signed with the San Francisco 49ers. It's also not too soon to pair young legs with 12-year veteran Brian Dawkins.
Posted 12h 7m ago
|04-16-2007, 02:52 PM||#2|
Anybody want a peanut?
Join Date: Aug 2004
Location: Ceti Alpha V
For the money, I kind of would rather have Griffin or Nelson but there's no question he's the best there. I guess I just don't like the idea of giving top ten or even fifteen money to safety.
|04-16-2007, 11:39 PM||#4|
highly touted recruit
Join Date: Mar 2006