Remember this time last season? Remember how the AP column section had a mock draft every other post , every single day? You know the season is lost when we are talking draft at Thanksgiving. Thankfully that is not the case this season. Draft talk has been pushed aside by (mostly) winning football. The focus isn't on April ,like it has been in years past. Instead we are talking about January and post season seating. It feels good talking about actual , meaningful football for a change.
However, there has been a lot of discussion about our free safety position after the secondary has been torched the past few games in the air. There are major question marks regarding the safety position not only this season , but next season as well. Kendrick Lewis, Hussain Abdullah and Quentin Demps are all unrestricted free agents next year. All have made some plays this season, all have also struggled . None of those guys are front line starters in the NFL . The situation has become even more clouded with the injury issues to Sanders Commings , who the regime drafted to be the heir apparent to Lewis. We are going to need more bodies this off season to fill this unit.
I normally wouldn't write a post about the drat this time of the year. This is my first and only post about a college prospect in season. But because there has been such a clamoring for quality free safety play and because there is going to be major upheaval in this unit in the offseason, coupled by the fact this player is going to play in a prime time game tonight for all of you to see,I feel OK about posting this
I love my football Saturdays almost as much as I love my Sundays. Nothing beats watching college football on a chilly fall afternoon . But I also have really been getting into watching these Tuesday /Wednesday night games that start in Mid October. They don't have the huge schools with major stars showcased. Thet choose instead to focus on smaller schools from the MAC/Sunbelt/ Conference USA. These are stand alone games you can watch without the distractions of all the other contest going on. There is a lot of talent on display in these games . I first discovered TY Hilton, Bobby Rainey, and Melvin White on beginning of the week games. All three I lobbied long and hard for us to draft.There are several players I saw this year that I would love to have on this team(more on those at the appropriate time)
But there is a guy that I have really come to like watching. He is my TY Hilton this year . His name is Jimmie Ward and he plays safety for the undefeated Northern Illinois Huskies. Ward is almost the perfect combination on range, ball skills and tackling ability. He is a ballhawk, picking off 6 passes this season. He is the best tackler at defensive back I have ever seen at the collegiate level . He seems to gave really good range and anticipation. He also seems to have a smooth back pedal. I have seen every Husky game on prime time this year and I haven't seen him beat deep once. A little research shows he has blocked four punts in his career. He reminds me of Ryan Clark only with better ball skills. He just excepted an invitation to the Senior Bowl this year
Ward is playing in the MAC championship game at 7:00 Friday on ESPN 2. So you guys should check him out , we could even make it a Jimmie Ward open thread. Northern Illinois doesn't wear their names on the back of their jerseys ( I hate that BTW) so look for number 15 out there. I know I will be enjoying a few cocktails , kicking back in my lazy boy , possibly enjoying a cigar watching the game. CBS sports has him as a 7th round prospect. I am telling you right now there is no way he lasts that long on the board. We might be able to steal him in the 4th. I think he would greatly improve this defense
Could the answer already be on the roster?
I try really hard not to second guess coaching decisions on who to play and who to sit. But I really can't understand why Ron Parker hasn't gotten for playing time with Demps and Lewis struggling. He is bigger and faster than both those guys. Lewis supposedly has these great instincts, how is that working out. At least Parker would provide elite speed to the position. At least he can run with Decker and Thomas unlike our other safeties . A quick scouting report says
Newberry S Ron Parker took part in Coastal Carolina's Pro Day and measured in at 5-foot-11 3/4, 206 pounds. Parker ran a 4.36-second 40-yard dash, a 1.54-second 10-yard shuttle and a 2.52-second 20-yard shuttle. He posted a 10-foot-2 1/2 broad jump, a 32-inch vertical, a 4.46-second short shuttle, a 7.05-second three-cone drill, an 11.50-second 60-yard shuttle and 17 repetitions on the 225-pound bench press.
I'll take it. Parker was a forgotten man we claimed on the waiver wire in September. Maybe he could develop into the best one out of them all. It is time to shake things up back there. Throw him in , who knows, maybe we will get lucky and strike gold twice. Maybe Parker is just waiting for the opportunity to step up like Cooper was.
Anyway , I thought I would give a couple brief thoughts on what we can do to plug our hole at safety.One for the future, one possibly for the present. I really encourage any of who who are curious to check out Ward Friday night. I also would like thoughts on Parker at FS. Or we could just move ''the best coverage safety ever'' to FS. But that is a whole other post