When it comes to physicality at the safety position, most draft enthusiasts already know about Louisville's Calvin Pryor.
Pryor consistently showed last season he was willing to fly downhill and be a force in the running game. It didn't matter if he was lined up as a single-high safety, dropping down in the box or head up on a slot receiver.
If a player had the ball and looked even remotely interested in picking up yards, Pryor was on the case.
On film, Pryor displayed the natural aggression you love from the safety position. But now, Pryor has the size on record to back it up.
As Pryor gets ready to take the stage at the combine in the positional drills, even as a projected first-round pick, he must seize the opportunity to show teams he can be trusted to play in space.
Here are three plays that show a little bit about Pryor:
On this play, the slot receiver runs ghost-action back to the left, and Pryor slides closer to the hash mark before the snap.
Once the ball is snapped, you can see the screen develop out into the right flat. Pryor recognizes the screen, and just by a split-second, he beats the offensive lineman and knifes through to make the play behind the line of scrimmage.
This play shows Pryor's athleticism and closing speed.
Pryor is lined up as the deep middle safety, and this is simply an example of filling in on the run from the safety position.
On this particular play, Pryor takes the right angle and is able to blow up the play for just a minimal gain by the running back.
This is an example of the problems that Pryor showed on film as well.
He takes a really bad angle here and is unable to cut off the running back from getting to the outside. Maybe he underestimated the speed of the running back, Storm Johnson, but in any case, this is the kind of play Pryor struggled with at times.
It wasn't always simply overrunning the play but simply taking bad angles when coming downhill in run support.
How Pryor Can Help Himself
One of the often-used scouting traits of defensive backs always has to do with their hips.
Does the player have "fluid" or "stiff" hips?
Basically, NFL teams want to see how well a player can transition from moving one direction to another. Specifically when out in space, can the player backpedal and then turn and run fluidly?
These traits are specifically tested at the combine during positional drills.
The reason it's so important for Pryor to do well in these drills has to do with his weaknesses on film. Pryor would overrun plays, take bad angles and be caught in bad positions due to overaggressiveness.
It's something scouts will look at and try to determine if it was strictly a matter of being overaggressive or if there is a lack of athleticism that cannot help curb those bad angles.
If Pryor displays complete control over his body, meaning fluid movements, quick feet, loose hips and a steady head, scouts will see Pryor as a player they can mold and develop.
They can see his weaknesses on film as an area they can develop because it's much easier to tame aggression than to manufacture it.
Everyone knows Pryor as a physical player; that's one trait that's already put him a notch above other prospects.
But if he can match up athletically in these tests and drills with other players, he'll separate himself that much more.
He might already be a first-round pick, but if Pryor goes out there and proves to have athletic fluidity in space, combined with the physical measurements and the aggressiveness seen on film, he's a player teams can feel really good about developing into something special.
It's just up to him to seize that opportunity.
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