Name: Jamal Adams
Background: Son of George Adams, a former All-SEC running back at Kentucky and six-year NFL player.
Former number one rated safety prospect (scout.com), earned 138 tackles and seven interceptions his final two years in high school. Named district MVP as a senior and invited to the Under Armour All-America All-Star game. At Hebron High School, Adams was an accomplished rushing threat, receiver, and kick returner.
Injury History: n/a
2014: 38 solo tackles, 5 tackles for loss, 1 sack, 5 pass breakups
2015: 47 solo tackles, five tackles for loss, 6 pass breakups, 4 interceptions, 1 forced fumble
2016: 42 solo tackles, 7.5 tackles for loss, 4 pass breakups, 1 interceptions, 1 forced fumble, 1 sack
Summary: Team captain and two-year starter for the Tigers and earned First Team All-America and First Team All-SEC in 2016. Adams is a former Freshman All-American. He has received high praise for his leadership skills. Projected as a strong safety at the NFL level.
Games Watched: 2015- Texas Tech
2016- Alabama, Auburn, Mississippi State, Florida, Wisconsin
Athleticism: Jamal Adams isn’t your average athlete at strong safety, but this comes with some good and some bad, which I’ll analyze later. The upside is he’s faster and more flexible than people realize, while he needs to improve his mental approach and technique, he has the physical ability to cover a slot receiver with some success.
Instincts: Adams is rarely fooled and doesn’t take many false steps versus the run or when in zone coverage. Option, misdirection, play action is something that doesn’t phase him, he consistently takes his first two steps back in pass coverage or becomes a heat-seeking missile headed towards the ball carrier.
Leadership: Adams’ leadership ability has given him wide praise from scouts and LSU coaches. His energy and ability to communicate with other secondary players were the most frequently mentioned from what I’ve read. NFL teams may look at his intangibles and see drafting him as a chance to change the culture of their locker room.
Open Field tackling: Jamal Adams locates the ball-carrier well but will miss on a number of tackles in pursuit. Just about every game has a few dives and misses, now I’ll say when he does hit you it’s pretty hard, but regardless he could stand to refine his technique and improve on breaking down in space. While I know the common response may be “Everyone misses tackles sometimes, duh.” , my response is that “they shouldn’t this often”. Also, given that he is a safety, he is the last line of defense, consistent tackling is a must. Additionally, Adams is a strong safety, a position that’s often relied upon to be the best tackler in the secondary and doesn’t have the coverage skills that would lead some to overlook it.
Coverage Skill: Jamal Adams has the athleticism to run with slot receivers. However, he needs to improve his technique in man coverage. Furthermore, his footwork could be more fluid and must be able to key routes better. Especially if he wants to be counted on more in man coverage.
Scouting Combine Analysis
Athlete Type: Dynamic Speed Dominant
Explosive Lower Body: 59th Percentile Speed: 72nd Percentile Dynamic Speed: 80th Percentile
Film Study Grade:
Man Coverage 7/10, Zone Coverage 8.5/10, Run Support: 9/10, Speed/Agility 9/10, Ball Skills- 7.5/10, Tackle 8/10
Hardy’s Take: Adams appears to be a leader, physical presence, and a speedy player at the safety position. However, I’d like to alert people to some soft edges to his game. In a very deep safety class, Adams is a very good athlete. But one must be a rare talent to warrant a top five or even top ten selection. I just do not see it. The missed tackles, lack of refinement in man coverage, and lack of production against the pass should keep teams interested but at yield.
Regarding the box safety role, there are guys such as Josh Jones and Obi Melifonwu who have a greater athletic potential to pair with better tape. I still believe Adams can be a serviceable player and a long-term NFL starter, I just have doubts he’ll live up to the franchise-changing expectations often associated with high draft picks. I like Jamal Adams, but in a scenario where can over-deliver.
Draft Projection: 2nd round