Nickoe Whitley, S, Mississippi State (HT: 5’11”; WT: 205 lbs)
- Good size and length, and he plays bigger than his actual measurements. On several occasions in 2013, he forced fumbles and interceptions due to his size.
- He’s the definition of “tough,” proving so when he played the final 10 weeks of the 2013 season despite a torn ACL. He and his coaching staff knew about the ACL tear, and more can be read about it here.
- Disciplined when filling run gaps, playing as a conservative safety. His role was to prevent chunk plays from happening, and he generally did well.
- Excellent hand strength that allows him to make circus catches or one-handed catches. His hands are also strong enough to force fumbles.
- He has good ball skills because he keeps his eyes on the quarterback the entire play, and he has good natural timing when leaping for the ball.
- Gained great experience in the SEC after he started four seasons at defensive back. NFL coaches will appreciate his ability to produce in the deepest conference in football despite being severely injured.
- Since he opted to wait until after the regular season to get his ACL repaired, he might have to sit out the 2014 NFL season. Teams want cheap, young labor, and losing a year of his rookie contract could hurt his value.
- Has an injury history in his lower body, as he also ruptured his Achilles in 2012. His medical reports will dictate if he’s drafted or not.
- Lacks NFL-caliber speed for a rangy safety. He has the physical traits of a linebacker but with safety size. That might lead to him being a part time or rotational player.
- Tackling ability is inconsistent, as he doesn’t seem to like contact. He doesn’t form tackle, but the torn ACL could’ve affected his all-around play and mindset.
- He doesn’t play with good suddenness or lateral burst to break on the ball at the last second. If he doesn’t read the play quickly, he won’t reach the ball in time to prevent a reception.
- Lacks anticipation and route recognition, so he’s just a guy that can make a tackle on most plays. Don’t expect him to produce full time right away after he’s recovered from injury.
- Played the final nine games in 2013 with a torn ACL.
- Former 3-star recruit from Jackson, Mississippi.
- Preseason All-SEC player in 2013.
Whitley had a great career at Mississippi State, showing that he was one of the toughest players in college football history. His injury history and physical traits are major red flags when projecting his future. Considering the depth of the class and his injury situation, Whitley likely isn’t drafted until very late, if at all, and spends 2014 on the practice squad on a team.
Draft Projection: 7th Round-UDFA