A very, very interesting segment from Peter King just emerged this morning in Monday Morning QB. He takes on the (dangerous) idea of taking a safety in the Top Ten, even speaking about Eric Berry specifically, and bringing up a conversation between the Falcons GM Thomas Dimitroff and KC's Scott Pioli.
He starts here:
If I were an NFL team drafting high, I'd be very careful evaluating Eric Berry.
Some great insights on Pioli's thoughts after the jump:And then reveals his working hypothesis here:
The Tennessee safety, obviously, is a rare prospect. But the history of safeties in terms of longevity and greatness at the top of the draft is very shaky. The nature of the position is smallish people throwing themselves around like linebackers, and that doesn't lend itself to long careers. The three best safeties to be drafted in the past decade -- Ed Reed, Troy Polamalu and Bob Sanders -- have missed 78 games due to injury in their 21 combined NFL seasons.
Want some proof? King discusses the history of recent guys termed "the next Ronnie Lott":
Berry looks like a top-10 pick, but the team that takes him is going to be picking against history. Of the four top-10 safeties this decade, none has had franchise-player impact: Sean Taylor (Washington, fifth overall, 2004), Michael Huff (Oakland, seventh, 2006), Donte Whitner (Buffalo, eighth, 2006), LaRon Landry (Washington, sixth, 2007). Taylor might have had franchise-player impact if he had not been gunned down three-and-a-half years into his career. But overall, the position justifies the caution lots of teams are taking with it.
But it's here with his conversation with Dimitroff that things get really interesting (and local):
Atlanta GM Thomas Dimitroff calls the safety-at-the-top-of-the-draft debate a conundrum. "It's been on my mind a lot lately," he said, "and I realize I'm speaking out of both sides of my mouth here, but Berry's a really good player. It's been on my mind quite a bit recently. You want the good hitter with hip movement, able to turn and run, but then reality sets in. I was talking to [Kansas City GM] Scott Pioli about Berry, and I said, 'Scott, this guy's your pick.' And he said, 'You know how I feel about safeties that early.' And I understand.''
I'm not saying Berry won't be a great player. Maybe he'll be Ed Reed. Maybe he'll know when to dish out the big hit and when to steer a player instead of seek-and-destroy. But the odds of him being great for a long time -- as opposed to the physical longevity of a tackle or defensive lineman or quarterback not subject to as many high-speed collisions -- are pretty long, based on history.