The Cleveland Browns have the seventh pick in the upcoming draft and and a huge hole at the safety position on their roster.
With that in mind, I have profiled the top two safeties available in the upcoming draft.
Eric Berry (6'0" 211 pounts) Safety Tennessee
Eric Berry is considered, outside of Ndamukong Suh, the most complete defensive player in this year's draft.
Whether it's sniffing out a screen, baiting a quarterback or supporting the run, Berry does the right thing at the right time.
He can play either safety spot and is the most complete defensive back in the draft.
Eric Berry is an incredible athlete. He is explosive, agile, has great speed, excellent hands and is smooth with fluid hips and excels in both man and zone coverage. Excels at making interceptions instead of knockdowns. Has tremendous burst.
Berry has outstanding instincts, has a strong work ethic and does a good job in run support. He is also a productive team player and leader. He had 14 career interceptions, recovered two fumbles and scored two touchdowns during a three year career at Tennessee. He also came within eight yards of setting the NCAA record for interception return yardage.
At the combine Berry had a bench press of 19 and a handsize of 9 5/8. His 40 time was 4.47.
The only real knock on Berry is that he had a shoulder injury and that his aggressive style, combined with his average size, may take him out of the lineup more often than not.
Earl Thomas (5'11" 203 pounds) Safety Texas
Earl Thomas is the most instinctive ballhawk in the NFL draft this year.
He is a physical, big hitter who can play either safety spot and many believe can play cornerback. He ran a blazing 4.37 at his pro-day and there are rumors that he ran in the 4.2s.
Earl Thomas is a tough, physical, competitive, willing tackler who delivers big hits. He has quick feet, great hands, fluid hips and is a good leaper who targets the ball at its high point.
His excellent football I.Q. translates into great awareness and anticipation. He is blazing fast with a burst and is able to match up with almost anyone in coverage. This speed and athleticism leads many to believe he can also play cornerback at the NFL level. He had ten career interceptions and two touchdowns. He is an effective blitzer and a prototypical center fielder.
At the combine Thomas had a 21 on the benchpress and his hands measured 9 3/8. His 40 time was 4.41.
The biggest negative about Thomas is also that he is too physical and that his body won't stand up to the rigors of his style of play.He may be a little undersized for safety in the NFL. Sometimes plays a little out of control.
The Draft Pick
If both players are available at the seventh pick the Browns are faced with a very difficult decision.
Berry is an all world talent at safety and the Browns certainly need one. I think they would risk alienating the fan base if they passed on Berry. After nearly having two games blacked out last year amid the whole quarterback fiasco this is a legitimate concern.
On the other hand Thomas is versatile enough to play both safety and cornerback, which would allow the Browns to move recently acquired cornerback Sheldon Brown to safety. They could also conceivably trade down a few picks and still get Thomas and acquire another pick.
I can't wait until Thursday to find out if the Browns do indeed select either one of these excellent young safeties or go in another direction all together.
Update: word out of Kansas City is that they are shopping the number five pick with Berry as the bait.
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