The Falcons could use a good free safety prospect to learn the position and eventually start. One of the more unique prospects in the draft this year is Clemson’s Bashaud Breeland. He played cornerback during his four years in Death Valley but would be better suited for safety in the pros.
According to Tony Pauline, the Falcons are interested in the Clemson product. It would make sense, but Breeland should be looked at for the Falcons as a safety and not as a cornerback. If there was a prospect that was close to Jairus Byrd in terms of play on the field, it’d be Breeland.
Combine/Pro Day Measurements
Height: 5'11-3/8" Weight: 197 pounds
Arm Length: 31-3/4" Hand Measurement: 9"
40 yard dash: 4.62 sec. 10 yard split: 1.64 sec.
20 yard shuttle: 4.33 sec. 3-cone Drill: 7.04 sec. Bench Reps: 11 reps
Vertical Jump: 34.5" Broad Jump: 10'3"
2013: 13 Games Played, 56 Tackles, 5.0 Tackles for Loss, 2.0 Sacks, 1 QB Hurry, 4 Interceptions, 2 Fumbles Forced, 10 Pass Deflections
2012: 10 Games Played, 33 Tackles, 2.5 Tackles for Loss, 1.0 Sack, 3 Pass Deflections
2011: 14 Games Played, 47 Tackles, 1.0 Tackles for Loss, 2 Interceptions, 4 Pass Deflections
At just over 5’11" and nearly 200 pounds, Breeland has the body of a safety. He’s got solid speed and agility and has great strength for a corner. As a tackler, he’s one of the best in the draft out of the cornerbacks. He could easily transition to a safety’s responsibilities there.
As a run defender, he isn’t afraid to mix it up and he has shown a propensity for knocking balls loose when he hits people. He also has great ball skills and understands how to create turnovers or knock the ball away. He also can play in either man or zone proficiently enough to make a roster. He’s also a willing special teams player.
While his skills as a run stuffer are excellent, he really needs to get better at shedding blocks. Otherwise, he has a tendency to get completely blocked out of plays instead of making the tackle. He isn’t proficient enough in man coverage to be an effective NFL starter.
He would have to switch to safety or nickel cornerback if he wants playing time in the NFL. He just isn’t quick enough or technical enough to win as an outside corner. Ideally, he would improve on his man coverage enough to give a team a great tight end stopper.
How Does He Fit the Comrade Filter?
Breeland was never arrested. However, he was suspended for one half of a game once due to a targeting penalty. That’s not something the Falcons would worry about as the rule seems like an overreaction to past college football experiences.
He wasn’t a captain for the Tigers, but he was respected in the locker room according to Dane Brugler of CBS Sports. The Falcons would love to have Breeland in their locker room, as he would be a great fit for the Comrade Filter.
With a skill set that projects better to safety than cornerback, Breeland could wind up pushing himself into the draft’s second day. If he impresses the right coaching staff, he could start right away and provide solid coverage play.
He’s very similar to Devin McCourty and Jairus Byrd with how he tracks the ball in the air and can create turnovers. Ideally, he winds up as a deep safety for a team who needs someone who can play umbrella coverage. Atlanta would love to have someone like him next to William Moore.
How He Would Fit in to the Falcons' Plans
The Falcons should look at Breeland in the third or even fourth round. If he falls that far for them, he could be an instant starter at free safety. He would be an upgrade over what Thomas DeCoud was, as he would at least be a solid tackler and make plays on the ball.
For his defense, coordinator Mike Nolan could easily protect Breeland by primarily playing him in deep coverage role similar to what DeCoud played in 2012. As Breeland learned the scheme, Nolan would start to incorporate more blitzes and man coverages.
All stats used are either from Pro Football Focus' Premium Stats (subscription required), ESPN, CFBStats or the NFL. All combine and pro day info is courtesy NFL Draft Scout. All contract information is courtesy of Spotrac and Rotoworld.
Scott Carasik is a Featured Columnist for Bleacher Report. He covers the Atlanta Falcons, college football, the NFL and the NFL draft. He also runs DraftFalcons.com.