Eric Berry: The Next Ronnie Lott and Player To Grab at No. 6, If Available

Tommy BertolinoContributor IMarch 23, 2010

Now that‘s what I call a woooo lick or even a de-cleater…Knowshon Moreno meet defensive back extraordinaire, Eric Berry.

Whoa, Whoa, Whoa …Did someone just use Eric Berry’s name in the same sentence as Ronnie Lott, the HOFer, 10 time pro bowler, four-time Super Bowl winner, and the 1980s all-decade safety who is paired with our very own Kenny Easley, the only defensive all decade player on that roster not in the hall of fame?

Yep, I did, and I’m here to tell you why that the mocks having us choose G. McCoy or Okung or Bulaga or Claussen or Spiller or Morgan or Bryant over Eric Berry, if available, are flat out, off their rocker and John Schneider and Pete Carroll are getting a hand delivered copy of this post.

In this pass happy league where you can barely touch a receiver without a ref tossing a pi flag and don’t dare get close to a QB’s legs, it’s time for a full blown secondary overhaul and the first maneuver was cutting Deon Grant and the second should be drafting Eric Berry, if available.

Why the EB comparisons to Ronnie?

1. Versatility

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I’d say most fans today don’t know that in Lott’s rookie year of 1981, Ronnie was a first-team All-Pro at the cornerback position where he had 3 pick-sixes. Lott didn’t move to free safety until his fifth season in San Francisco and in his sixth, led the NFL in interceptions with 10. Lott had the versatility to play any position in the secondary and eventually moved to strong safety with the Oakland Raiders.

Eric, who ran a 4.47 at the combine and showed his fluid hips to turn and run without missing a beat was a former high school qb and cornerback before moving to safety at Tennessee and has similar versatility.

Berry could play either safety position in the Tampa 2, could easily play press coverage on a slot receiver, can support the run as a SS in the box like Monte Kiffen had him perform at UT, blitz and is a ball hawker in the secondary with that versatility like Lott had at San Francisco.

2. Similar size

Lott was a solid 6’0" while Berry pushes 5’11.5" and both played slightly above 200 lbs. Lott’s playing weight was around 205, while Berry just tipped the combine scales at 211. Berry showed nice lower body explosion with his eye popping 43” vertical which will allow him to ballhawk wr bigs in the NFL. Both have similar size .

3. Playmaking ability

Lott was a game changer with playmaking ability and believe Berry has those similar instincts. In 192 games that Lott played, he was involved in 96 turnovers or one in every two games.

While Lott could be credited with both a forced fumble and recovery on the same play, it’s still impressive considering all of the bone jarring hits and enforcer plays he made. Lott finished with 63 interceptions and 33 forced/recovered fumbles. Lott had a knack for the ball and was a playmaker.

Similarly, Berry has shown he has a knack for the ball and playmaking ability . In 39 collegiate games, EB had 14 interceptions including 3 pick-sixes, 2 forced fumbles, and numerous fumble recoveries where he always seemed to be around the ball to scoop and go. He easily had one in every two games like Lott.

Once Berry gets his mitts on the rock, he’s even more a threat than Lott was to take it to the house and turn the complexion of the game 360 degrees.

4. Identity

Besides Tez, we haven’t had that smashmouth identity since Kenny Easley laced em up 25 years ago. Frankly, that’s pathetic, and I’m tired of bend but don’t break style of defensive. It hasn’t worked, so it’s time to have an Identity. Just like Lott brought that defensive identity to the 49ers capping it off with four Lombardis, Eric Berry can be that player in the secondary that gives our "D" some identity , some ferocity!

Lott brought identity to a porous 49er defense that went from No. 27 in 1980 to No. 2 in 1981. Berry can bring that same identity to the Hawks for the next 10 years and eliminate any talks of "being a soft team."

When you look at the players size, their positional versatility, the playmaking ability and ability to create team identity, it should be much easier now to see how you can compare Eric Berry to Ronnie Lott and I didn't even include their wooo licks.

I was fortunate enough to watch Ronnie Lott’s career and when you look at the impact that one defensive player had on those four Super Bowl-winning 49er teams, often over shadowed by Montana and even Rice, who wasn’t even there in '81 and '84, it’s well worth running up to Roger Goodell, if available, and hearing Roger say

“ With the sixth pick in the 2010 NFL draft, the Seattle Seahawks select Eric Berry, safety from Tennessee.”

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