Earl Wolff Scouting Report: NFL Outlook for the NC State Safety

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Earl Wolff Scouting Report: NFL Outlook for the NC State Safety
Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images

Earl Wolff

Philadelphia Eagles

Fifth Round, 136th Pick

Once called the "heart of the defense" by former head coach Tom O'Brien, North Carolina State safety Earl Wolff will hope his collegiate success translates to the NFL level.

Wolff is a boundary safety who has the size and athleticism necessary to be a late-round gem in this year's draft. He's tough against the run and effective in zone coverage against the pass.

Wolff stood out at the NFL scouting combine, clocking a 4.40 in the 40-yard dash and posting a vertical jump of 39 inches. Still, he's unlikely to come off the board before the middle rounds.


Strengths

 

From a physical standpoint, Wolff has everything teams want from the safety position. He's a willing tackler and aggressive against the run, and he is assignment-sure against the pass.

He's an elite athlete. On top of his 4.40 time in the 40-yard dash and 39" vertical, Wolff posted a broad jump of 11' 2" and clocked a 4.07 in the 20-yard shuttle. His athleticism would suggest he has the necessary range to play in single-high coverage.


Weaknesses

While he managed to intercept six passes in his last three seasons at NC State, Wolff didn't make many "wow" plays. Most of his interceptions were relatively routine.

Tracking the ball in the air isn't his strong suit. He's typically in the right place, but he doesn't generate many turnovers on his own.

Wolff tends to get swallowed up by bigger blockers in the running game.


Tools

Wolff is slightly shorter than the ideal height for a safety, but he's plenty big to be an effective starting safety in the NFL. Combine his 5' 11" 209-pound build with his elite athleticism, and it's easy to see why Wolff passes the eye test for the position.


Character/Intangibles

There are no known concerns regarding Wolff's character. He graduated from NC State in just three and a half years with a degree in sports management, according to GoPack.com.


System

Wolff typically played the safety position in two-deep coverage in NC State's 4-3 defense. He wasn't moved around much within the defensive scheme. He's a boundary safety.

Matt Miller Breaks Down Earl Wolff


Playing the Ball

Wolff will make the play if it's routine. But he shouldn't be counted upon to do anything out of the ordinary in regards to forcing turnovers. Making plays on the ball is not his strong suit.


Against the Run

He will overpursue at times due to his aggressive nature, but generally, he takes good angles when running down the ball carrier.

Wolff is certainly not afraid of taking on blockers, although he rarely gets the better of those exchanges. Overall, he's an above-average run defender.


Man Coverage

Wolff was very rarely asked to play man coverage at the college level. Occasionally, he'd cover tight ends and running backs out of the backfield, but asking him to cover a talented wide receiver would not be wise.


Zone Coverage

Despite being a tremendous athlete, Wolff doesn't have great range on the back end of the defense. This lack of range could cause problems if he's ever asked to play single-high coverage and run sideline-to-sideline.

But in two-deep coverage, Wolff does a nice job at recognizing plays early. He also has fluid hips and can make plays on the ball if it's thrown his way.


Tackling

Wolff does a nice job of going low and wrapping up as a tackler. He also forced seven fumbles in his college career.


Future Role/Scheme Versatility

He won't come off the board before the middle rounds, but Wolff has the athletic ability that can't be taught. He's not an extremely versatile player as far as having the ability to line up in different positions and make an impact on the game, but he's good at what he does.

Early in his NFL career, he could be counted upon to play in defensive back-heavy subpackages, but his primary role will be on special teams. Moving forward, he has the physical tools to develop into a solid NFL starter. I think he may be the most underrated safety in this class.


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