As I was watching Tulsa tear apart Hawaii in this year's Hawaii Bowl, a couple of players stuck out to me: Greg Salas, G.J. Kinne and Damaris Johnson to name a few.
There was one player, though, who seemed to me to have a lot of draft-worthy potential, and that player is Hawaii safety Mana Silva.
After seeing Silva in on some great plays, including a delayed blitz and a fantastic run recognition and sideline pursuit, I started to do some digging on this guy, and guess what I found?
Even Scouts Inc., usually the most reliable source for player information, had no profile on the senior safety from Hilo, Hawaii.
Part of that is understandable, as there are a couple knocks against Silva:
- Tweener Size: At 6'1", 210 lbs., Mana Silva is a little big for a defensive back. He could still play back there, but his size could become a hindrance. Some say that he could potentially move to outside linebacker, but that would require him to gain some more weight, and he'd still be a little undersized.
- Lack of Speed: The best 40-yard dash estimate that I could find for Silva was 4.65, a good .2 seconds slower than a top end defensive back should be.
- Hawaii Does Not Play Well Against the Pass: The Warriors may have ranked No. 43 this year in scoring defense, but they still struggled big time against pass-oriented teams, and that tends to reflect poorly on the defensive backfield.
On the other side of things, there is a lot to like about Silva:
- Numbers: Despite missing a couple of games due to injury during his career, Silva ended his two-year starting career with 155 tackles and 14 interceptions. He also showed steady improvement in that tally, posting six of the interceptions in 2009 and eight in 2010.
- Sideline-to-Sideline Pursuit: If there was one thing that really stuck out to me about Mana Silva, it was his ability to pursue along the line of scrimmage. He has a lot of patience when it comes to turning into the backfield. This is key, since patience is always the first thing rookies must learn.
- Sticky Hands: Just look at his interception numbers. For a safety, he has quite an ability to get to the ball, and not just against slack teams. Silva posted two interceptions on Kellen Moore this year, as well as one on Colin Kaepernick. He has the ability to play with the best.
Ultimately, Silva may only be a low-round choice at best, but he's definitely worth picking up for a team that has the ability to take a chance on a 22-year-old safety. He has shown that he has the ability to learn and build on success, he has a lot going for him, and a lot of what he has against him can be fixed with hard physical training.
Expect someone to pick him up as an undrafted free agent at the least.
Like the article? Then follow me on Twitter @chriseggemeyer