Name: Xavier Woods
School: Louisiana Tech
Position fit: Safety – ideally for cover-3 scheme; experience in single high and man on the slot
Stats to know: 14 interceptions and 10 pass breakups between 2014 and 2016. Played in the slot on 306 of 978 snaps in 2016.
What he does best:
- Very physical in man coverage; has experience in man coverage vs. the slot and is very willing to mix it up.
- Ran the fastest safety 3-cone at the combine (6.72), and his change of direction ability is evident on film when he is in control and over his feet.
- Flashes good range, awareness from deep safety position; ran a solid 4.54 40 at combine.
- Recovered from a rough 2015 to give up receptions on just 27 of 47 throws into his area; QB rating against in 2016 was 58.4.
- From free safety position does an excellent job of reading QB and adjusting his track; looks very comfortable in centerfield.
- Attacks downhill, can deliver huge hits to dislodge ball on passes in front.
- Struggles to recover effectively when he loses a step in transition.
- Can lose track of targets in zone coverage, especially when aligned in the box.
- Gave up 12 TDs on throws into his coverage between 2014 and 2016; appears to gamble too often going for the big hit or breakup.
- 30 missed tackles in three seasons; can break down in space and finish, but at times will get too aggressive with his angles or stop his feet at the tackle point.
Player comparison: Dwight Lowery, Los Angeles Chargers
Lowery is not a significant contributor against the run, but is a solid free safety in coverage who is traditionally very active around the ball. In the past three seasons he has given up just one touchdown into his coverage while intercepting seven and breaking up 10 passes.
Bottom line: Woods is a fluid athlete who flips his hips smoothly in coverage, and is very aggressive to the point of attack. While his long speed is not elite, when combined with his physicality it is more than enough for the next level. He has a good amount of experience playing man against the slot, but is at his best as a single-high free safety, where he uses his agility and read and reaction skills to play center field effectively. He needs to work on not taking such aggressive angles, as he can put himself out of position at times, but he plays with the physical and mental tools needed to potentially develop into a starter at the next level.