Good safeties are hard to find. They're even harder to find when they're wearing a New England Patriots uniform.
That's why, as speculation mounts about potential safety targets for the Patriots this offseason, the list of names is unsurprisingly long. Ian Rapoport of the Boston Herald adds LaRon Landry to that list, with a report that the former Redskins safety will work out for the Patriots on Thursday.
But not all safeties are created equal. Some will be fits, and others won't be. So what's the book on Landry?
Matt Bowen of National Football Post spoke to a scout, who had some good and bad notes on the former Pro Bowl safety:
- Plays extremely hard; tough football player
- Top tier athlete
- More explosion than power; has strength, but will struggle at the point of attack
- Limited ball skills
- Not as physical as advertised in the run front
- More of a hitter; will come downhill on a WR; size up players in the open field
- Wants to go low on tackles
- Questionable study habits
- Will help a team early in the season; but will he stay healthy?
So basically, he's more of an in-the-box safety, but isn't exactly great at it, and won't contribute much in pass defense. Sounds a lot like a safety already on the roster—Patrick Chung.
There may have been some better fits in free agency, but that was before the top three potential free agent safeties were all hit with the franchise tag—Tyvon Branch by the Raiders, Michael Griffin by the Titans and Dashon Goldson by the 49ers.
Safety isn't regarded as an incredibly deep position in free agency anymore, and the shrinking market might be having an effect on Landry's value.
As thin as the free agent class is, the same could be said for the draft. On Wednesday's PatsPropaganda & Frenz podcast, Wes Bunting of National Football Post pointed to some under-the-radar prospects that could be a fit alongside Chung.
The two really interesting guys that I would take a look at, the Patriots seem to do a really nice job of this late in the draft, two safeties with size and speed are Kelcie McCray from Arkansas State and Christian Thomas from South Carolina State. [They are both] smaller school guys around 6'1.5" and 190-200 pounds. Both ran a sub-4.5 [40-yard dash]. Overall I think there's natural fluidity, natural range over the top [and] there is some physicality to their game. They're both raw in spots but if you're looking for intriguing mid-to-late round prospects that have the frame, that can run, that can both be effective while the ball is in the air, I'd say McCray and Thomas are both interesting guys.
Thus, while there may not be any great short-term quick fixes available, there are some options if the Patriots want to take a long-term approach to the position.
Of course, if depth at safety remains an issue, they could always go back to Devin McCourty.