As we continue with our 40 Prospects in 40 Days, we dive into a position where some question marks exist for the Buccaneers. There are a number of safeties on the Tampa Bay roster that will likely figure into plans this season and for the foreseeable future, but the team doesn’t quite have a tandem that stands out from the group.
With that said, the Bucs could choose to add to their competition at the safety position — or maybe at corner — in the upcoming NFL Draft. One potential option is Delaware’s Nasir Adderley, who is the latest to show that there are gems to be found in places other than the traditional college football powers.
Nasir Adderley’s Career
Adderley was a star defender in all four of his years with Delaware. He started 11 games at cornerback as a freshman, leading the team’s defensive backs with 51 tackles (37 solo). He didn’t come up with any interceptions, but he recorded eight passes defended. As a sophomore, he once again started all 11 games, turning in another standout year. He picked up 49 tackles (38 solo), a forced fumble, two interceptions and six passes defended. His performance earned him third-team all-CAA honors.
In his junior year, Adderley started all 11 games at safety. The position change didn’t affect his production — it actually increased it — as he put up a career-high 78 tackles (42 solo), five interceptions, two forced fumbles and a fumble recovery. He also spent time on special teams, totaling 52 yards on two kick returns. At the end of the year, he received first-team all-CAA honors. He topped his career-high in tackles as a senior, coming up with 87 (48 solo). He added four interceptions and seven pass breakups, leading to first-team all-CAA honors once again. With solid play in all four years with the Blue Hens, Adderley cemented himself as a strong NFL prospect.
For one, Adderley’s versatility in college certainly makes him an attractive prospect to NFL teams. The Bucs should be no different. With question marks at both corner and safety, bringing in Adderley would give them some flexibility. But his ability to play multiple positions helped him develop both range and ball skills. His quickness and footwork are both strengths of his, which helps his ability to come up and tackle in the open field. Physically, Adderley has the skills to be successful the NFL. He has good size, agility and technique when it comes to both coverage and tackling.
While Adderley has high upside physically, there is work to be done with the mental side of his game. Lance Zierlein notes in Adderley’s draft profile on NFL.com that the 6-foot, 206-pounder is “erratic in recognition and coverage duties as deep safety” and “can be manipulated by play design and heady quarterbacks.” That last part especially doesn’t bode well, as most quarterbacks in the NFL could be considered “heady.” And even if quarterbacks can’t directly manipulate him on their own, most NFL coaches will be able to expose that inability to read and recognize what’s coming. With inconsistencies in that part of his game, Adderley might be considered somewhat of a work in progress. Zierlein even says in the profile that teams might consider moving Adderley back to corner due to those struggles.
Why The Buccaneers Need Him
Tampa Bay has a lot of bodies in the safety group, but it’s hard to say what the team really has there. Justin Evans figures to be a starter in 2019, though an injury-ridden 2018 season led to a step back for the 2017 second-round pick. Other than Evans, the Bucs have second-year players in Jordan Whitehead and M.J. Stewart vying for playing time, with the latter moving from corner to safety this year. There’s also the newly-signed Kentrell Brice now in the mix. Drafting Adderley would make that safety group even fuller, though it would make for strong competition.
As far as Adderley potentially being moved to corner, that option is a bit more intriguing for the Bucs. As of now, the team has Carlton Davis and presumably Vernon Hargreaves III penciled in as the starting outside corners. But with Hargreaves coming off an injury and likely being better-suited for the nickel role anyway, adding a corner with some size is a strong proposition. If Adderley can transition smoothly back to an outside position, his physicality and ball skills could be of better use.
Will It Happen?
It very well could, though it might not make a lot of sense to draft Adderley as a safety. Projections have him as a day two guy, though some have him potentially sliding up into the end of the first round. If he’s picked that high as a safety, it wouldn’t be all that sensible for Tampa Bay. Considering the unknowns of his ability to read and anticipate from the position, Adderley might just over-complicate what is already a question mark for the team.
However, if the Bucs were to spend a day two pick on Adderley with confidence in his ability to move back to corner, it would make sense. On the outside, his size and athleticism would be good to have on the opposite side of Carlton Davis, who is big and athletic in his own right. There’s definitely upside for the Delaware product, and pairing him with Davis would give the Bucs a young corner duo that would anchor the secondary for years to come.