Dezmen Southward NFL Draft 2014: Highlights, Scouting Report for Falcons S

Ian Wharton@NFLFilmStudyContributor IMarch 24, 2014

Nebraska running back Rex Burkhead protects the ball against Wisconsin defensive back Dezmen Southward (12) during the first half of the Big Ten championship NCAA college football game Saturday, Dec. 1, 2012, in Indianapolis. (AP Photo/Michael Conroy)
Michael Conroy/Associated Press

Dezmen Southward, S, Wisconsin (HT: 6’0⅛”; WT: 211 lbs)

Atlanta Falcons

Third Round: 68th Pick

Pro Day Results
HeightWeight40-yard dashVertBroad
60012114.4542"10' 5"


  • Great physical measurements for a safety, with a well-built frame and standing over six feet tall. With size at defensive back becoming a premium, Southward has a big advantage over most players in this safety class when it comes to size.
  • Versatile in what roles he can play, defensive coordinators can move Southward from strong safety to cornerback for a few snaps per game if need be. Wisconsin used him in many roles, including linebacker, outside cornerback, nickelback and safety.
  • Flashed the ability to play press-man coverage on receivers without great agility. His technique needs improvement, but his functional strength is well above average for the position.
  • He’s a prototypical in-the-box strong safety, often making plays near or behind the line of scrimmage.
  • Reportedly ran a very impressive 40-yard dash of 4.45 seconds at his pro day. That type of straight-line speed helps make game-changing plays or saves the defense from giving up critical chunk plays.
  • Good closing burst in coverage, with the ability to jump in front of the receiver right before the ball arrives. Having the physical tools to make these plays is half of the battle at safety, now he has to develop the mental processing part of the game.
  • Good ball skills when he stays in front of the play. He often forces tipped balls, and he has room to improve.
  • Finishes his tackles well. He uses his size and strength to bring down ball-carriers and rarely had players break his tackles. 


  • Most of his highlight-reel type plays were made due to physical prowess and not because of his instincts or play recognition.
  • Hips are too stiff to play cornerback often, but he can line up against bigger receivers and tight ends.
  • Doesn’t play as fast as his 40-yard dash indicates. He has good game speed, but not the elite time he has without pads.
  • Attacks the line of scrimmage without any gap integrity, often running through the designed hole the offense isn’t bothering to block because it is away from the play. There are times he takes himself out of the play because of his aggressiveness.
  • Although he fits the mold of a traditional strong safety, teams want more well-rounded safeties, and he’s not at this time.
  • Gets lost in zone far too often to be reliable. He doesn’t feel where receivers are, so he will play the flats where the running back is and leave open receivers behind him. His overall feel for the game is poor.
  • Lacks the ability to recognize plays consistently, as he plays his coverage right away or attacks the line without worrying what the play is. This could be due to scheme, but it reflects poorly on him.
Collegiate Statistics

Personal Notes

  • Consensus All-Big Ten honorable mention in 2012 and 2013
  • 2014 NFL Shrine Game participant
  • Was medical red-flagged for having a fractured C5 vertebrae in his back
  • Graduated with a degree in agricultural business
  • Former 2-star athlete from Ft. Lauderdale, Fla.


Ratings Chart

Graph made by


Southward possesses very good physical traits, with great size and speed for his position. His medicals will be very important and likely will decide where, or if, he is drafted in May. If the medical red flag is false, or very minor, Southward could be an impact player after some time developing his mental processing and discipline.


Draft Projection: Fourth Round