Tre Boston, safety, North Carolina.
The Carolina Panthers have had no shortage of surprise picks during this draft season. Another one was made in Round 4 with the selection of Boston. While it was predicted that a player would be taken from a school in the Carolinas, a safety was not considered. However, Boston could be making the transition to cornerback as a pro, as he converted to safety during his time at North Carolina.
With the safety position crowded with established veterans, it seems logical that Boston will compete for a starting or backup job with the other defensive backs on the team. Melvin White, Josh Thomas and Josh Norman figure to be his primary competition.
The good news about Boston is that he was a three-year starter with the Tar Heels. He has the ability to be vocal, and that could help reduce any kind of missed signals or blown coverages. Boston can be a playmaker in the box, but he needs a clear path to make the tackle.
That being said, he needs to improve his tackling technique and learn to anticipate plays better. His footwork could use some work, especially when it comes to back-pedaling. Boston has a strong personality that could rub off on his teammates the wrong way.
Boston did well at the combine, as he earned top performer in the bench press with 18 reps. He turned in a good three-cone drill with a time of 7.04 seconds. He does have speed as his 4.59 40-yard dash time suggests. Essentially, he has the tools to be a good defensive back in the NFL.
Much of his impact will depend on his performance from the time rookie camp opens to the end of training camp. Considering the uncertainty of the Carolina secondary, it seems reasonable to assume he has as good a chance as anyone on the team of earning a starting job or an immediate backup role.
Mike Mayock had this to say about the Panthers secondary and Boston, via NFL.com: "He brings an energy. Carolina already plays good defense, but I thought they struggled with talent on the back end. Tre Boston will be a good fit."
Boston may not start out as a safety, but if he plays well and learns from the veterans already at the position, he can learn how to play it at the pro level and later be moved back to it. For now, the need is at cornerback and he will have to do his part to lock down receivers.
The Panthers are aware of his ability in that regard, as he put up some impressive numbers at Chapel Hill. After his final year, Boston tallied 282 tackles (8.0 for loss) and 13 interceptions. The latter is reassuring, as he increased his pick total each year at school. Another favorable stat is that he led his team in tackles last year, and Carolina is ripe with tackling machines on defense. He could have had a lot more had he not had problems missing them.
For the most part, he seems to be the kind of guy who can make an impact with the Panthers but will need some polish to really harness his full potential. It should be fun to watch his progression.
If anything, he is certainly happy to be staying in North Carolina.
Tre Boston opened his conference call saying “It’s great to be a Carolina Panther!” Added that it will be amazing to stay in North Carolina.— Carolina Panthers (@Panthers) May 10, 2014
Welcome to the Carolina Panthers, Tre Boston!
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