Should Eric Berry be be a top 5 pick in the 2010 NFL Draft? That is the question that many experts, scouts, coaches, and even fans are asking themselves. We all have our own opinion on the matter, but I am here to prove why Eric Berry should be taken in the top 5, and why it is ok. After the jump, I will explore the careers of the safeties that have been drafted in the top 5, and I will also give my analysis on Eric Berry.
Since 1963, only 5 safeties have been selected in the top 5 in the NFL Draft. The safety position is thought to be a luxury position that does not warrant top 5 status. Below are the names of the safeties selected within the top 5, and a breif look at their careers.
1963 - 2nd overall selection, DB Kermit Alexander (San Francisco 49ers)
Kermit Alexander enjoyed a 11 year career in the NFL. During his career, he accumulated 43 interceptions and 28 fumble recoveries. He is most known for his memorable hit on running back Gale Sayers, that tore ligaments in his knee.
Awards & Honors: (1968 Pro Bowler) - (1968 2nd-Team All NFL)
1981 - 4th overall selection, DB Kenny Easley (Seattle Seahawks)
Kenny Easley’s career was cut short due to a severe kidney disease. Although he only played for 7 years, he managed to rack up some pretty hefty numbers, 32 interceptions and 8 sacks. During his tenure, he was known as one of the Premier safeties in the NFL. If you don't believe me, check out this quote, “He’d be a Hall of Fame player (had he played longer). Maybe he still is. He was that good.” You’re probably wondering who had such great things to say about Mr. Easley. I won’t leave you in suspense, it was offensive genius and enervator, Bill Walsh.
Awards & Honors: (1982, 1983, 1984, 1985, 1987 Pro Bowler) - (1982, 1983, 1984, 1985 First-Team All NFL)
1988 - 3rd overall selection, DB Bennie Blades (Detroit Lions)
Around the NFL, Bennie Blades was known as an enforcer. Many players and coaches anointed him as one of the most physical safeties in the league. At the safety position, he logged three 100+ tackle seasons. His 815 tackles place him second in Lions History. He had a good 10 year run with the Detroit Lions. During that 10 years, he helped the lions win the NFC Central, make three playoff appearances, and one NFC Championship appearance.
Awards & Honors: (NFL All-Rookie 1988) - (1991 Pro Bowler) - (1991 First-Team All NFL) - (1992 Team MVP)
1991 - 2nd overall selection, DB Eric Turner (Cleveland Browns)
At the age of 31, Eric Turner passed away from intestinal cancer. He only played 9 years in the NFL, but still managed to leave his mark. Turner was the highest selected defensive back in NFL history. He set the bench mark for future safeties entering the NFL Draft. Turner was known as a good overall safety, he could play strong or free safety. During his 9 years, he caught 30 interceptions.
Awards & Honors: (1994, 1996 Pro Bowler) - (1994 First-Team All Pro)
2004 - 5th overall selction, DB Sean Taylor (Washington Redskins)
Sean Taylor is the most recent safety to be selected in the top 5. During his collegiate career, with his big time hitting, he helped bring the National Championship to the University of Miami. Drafted by the Redskins, he brought that same energy and big time hitting to the NFL. His teammates nicknamed him Meast (Half Man-Half Beast). He was a freak of nature athlete, who had a knack for making the big play. In 2007, Sports illustrated named Taylor the “Hardest Hitting Safety” in the NFL. Unfortunately his career ended prematurely. As you know, in 2007, Sean Taylor was shot and killed by home intruders. Even though he only played four years, he accounted for 300 tackles, 12 interceptions, and 8 forced fumbles. Sean Taylor was a beast, and he, like the others before him helped pave the way for safeties to be considered amongst the top 5 in the NFL Draft.
Awards & Honors: (2006, 2007, 2008 (honorary) Pro Bowl) - (2007 1st Team All-NFL)
As you can see, every safety selected in the top 5 has made the Pro Bowl, received numerous NFL honors, and played a huge part on their respective teams. Gone are the days where a safety should be banished from the top 5. The NFL is evolving, and it is evolving quickly. The St. Louis Rams (Greatest Show On Turf) and the 07’ New England Patriots started a revolution. Spread the field, cause mismatches, and spin the ball all over the field. Safeties are a hot commodity now, and are becoming more of a pressing need. I am here to say it is okay to draft a safety in the top 5, it is okay.
On to my next question. Should Eric Berry be the 5th overall selection by the Kansas City Chiefs? My answer is an emphatic Yes! If you have not had the chance to read my analysis on Eric Berry (My Proposal To Fixing My Beloved Chiefs), it is provided for you below.
ROUND 1 - DB, Eric Berry, Tennessee Volunteers (Highlights)
(Age: 21 Height: 5'11 Weight: 211 lbs. Forty Time: 4.47)
Eric Berry is a top 5 player on many experts draft boards and, rightfully so. He is a supreme talent who can play any position in the secondary. Safeties with the talent of Berry do not come around often. He is the epitome of a game changer. Some analyst don't see the value in selecting a safety in the top 5, but the importance of having a quality safety is becoming of the essence. The NFL is evolving before our eyes. It is becoming a passing league. More and more, teams are loading up at receiver, and spreading the field, and causing mismatches for defenses. We don't have to look to far for evidence, other than to look at our own division. Both Phillip Rivers and Kyle Orton led pass happy teams in 2009. They combined for 1,027 passing attempts, 8,056 passing yards, and 49 touchdowns. Passing numbers like these, are the reason why teams require athleticism at the safety position.
At the combine, Berry's athletic prowess was on display. He ran an exceptional forty and, had some of the best transitions during the defensive back drills. After watching 08' and 09' tape on Berry, I have come to the conclusion that he is the most complete defensive back in the draft. He has the speed and hip flexibility to blanket any receiver, and the ball skills to intercept or deflect any ball. His instincts and football IQ are off the charts. Rarely is Berry fooled by play action or misdirection plays. He diagnoses plays immediately and, blows them up. in 2009, Berry had only 2 interceptions, as oppose to 7 in 2008 and 5 in 2007. Defensive Coordinator Monte Kiffin had Berry playing the rover position. He often lined up in the box, to provide run support. When he did stay back at strong safety, quarterbacks rarely threw his way, on purpose.
Berry is the type of player that fits the "right 53". He has a passion for football, is a good kid on and off the filed, and is very versatile. He can provide the Chiefs with a bonafide playmaker in the secondary. If you are uncertain about selecting a safety 5th overall, just look at the effect Troy Palamlou and Darren Sharper had on their respective teams. When Palamlou went down with injury, the Steelers fell apart on defense. At the age of 34, Darren Sharper intercepted 9 balls, and returned 4 of them for touchdowns. He was a main cog on the defense, and a big reason for their Super Bowl success. To give you even more of an idea of the type of skills Berry possesses, imagine a mixture of Ed Reed, Troy Palamlou, and Brian Dawkins. He has the ball skills and return skills of Reed, the pursuit of Palamlou, and the tenacious tackling of Brian Dawkins. I have no doubt in my mind that Berry is the right selection for the Chiefs. He will immediately help to turn around one of the poorest passing defenses in the league.
Career Stats: Tackles: 241 Ints: 14 FF: 2 Sacks: 3 TDs: 3
Note: If you haven't checked out The Great Debate: Ndamukong Suh, Can He or Cant He, check it out!