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NFL Draft Spotlight on Darrell Stuckey

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Ronnie Lott. Troy Polamalu. Ed Reed. Bob Sanders.

When you start thinking about some of the best safeties ever to play in the NFL, these are the names that have to come to mind.

Like a lot of positions, the changing of the guard at safety can happen quickly in the NFL, as older, wiser, once-great veterans are replaced and upstaged by a bigger, faster and stronger group nearly every year.

This year is no different, as the players available at the safety position in this year’s NFL Draft — April 22-24 — make up one of the deepest and most talented groups on the board.

Consider this: USC’s Taylor Mays, all 6-foot-3, 235 blazing-fast pounds of him, is listed by ESPN draft guru Mel Kiper Jr. as the third best safety available. According to Kiper, Mays sits behind Tennessee’s Eric Berry (5-11, 203 and a likely Top 5 pick) and Texas’ Earl Thomas (5-10, 197), who also should go in the top half of the first round.

Rounding out Kiper’s Top 5 at the position are: Morgan Burnett (6-1, 210), of Georgia Tech, and Nate Allen (6-2, 206) of South Florida.

In order to land one of these high-profile studs, teams are going to have to invest a top pick and some serious cash. However, a little farther down the board sits a safety who just might be one of the best bargains available in this year’s draft, regardless of position.

His name is Darrell Stuckey.

At 6-1, 205, Stuckey has similar size to the Top 5 players at his position. What many don’t realize, however, is that he also possesses similar speed (4.49-second 40 time, which tied for third at the NFL combine at the position), strength (17 reps at 225 pounds in the bench press) and athleticism (39.5-inch vertical leap also tied for third at the combine). What’s more, Stuckey also has above-average smarts. In a nutshell, the team that lands Stuckey next week will be getting a steal, no matter where he’s selected.

If he’s taken in the second round, a team will be getting first-round talent — and more importantly first-round work ethic — with a second-round pick. If he’s taken in the third round or later, the team who snags him will be getting a guy who potentially could start right away for next to nothing by NFL standards.

No matter how you measure it, Stuckey is the total package. He’s strong enough to support the run, fast and athletic enough to play the pass and smart enough to know what’s going on in front of him and behind him at all times.

With that in mind, what kind of NFL player do you see Stuckey becoming? Will he be the Ronnie Lott type who takes pride in punishing people when they come into his area? Will he be a player like Polamalu, who seeks to destroy ball carriers and quarterbacks near the line of scrimmage? Or will he be like Bob Sanders, a playmaker capable of changing a game at any moment?

Stuckey himself is not too worried about the comparisons. Like any college player on the brink of realizing a childhood dream, the Kansas City, Kan., native just wants a chance to shine.

When pressed recently for his answer about the kind of player he might be at then next level, Stuckey, as expected, shot for the moon.

“I would like to be an Ed Reed type,” he said. “He’s a phenomenal player, he’s one of the best in the league right now. But I don’t hear too much at all (about who I compare to). I think the biggest thing (about making it in the NFL) is gaining confidence in yourself and knowing that you’re just as good as the person next to you.”

>>> Check back soon for more pre-draft profiles about the Jayhawks available in this year’s NFL Draft. Day One of the draft will begin at 6:30 p.m., Thursday, April 22. The first day will take us through the first round. Day Two (5 p.m., Friday, April 23) will feature rounds two and three, and Day Three (9 a.m., Saturday, April 24) will wrap things up with rounds four, five, six and seven.

Comments

Jonathan Allison 4 years, 6 months ago

I don't see Stuckey being like any of the 4 guys mentioned above.

I see him as the kind of player who will not make a lot of flashy plays, but instead will provide solid, consistent play for a long, long time and not give up big plays.

He didn't lead KU in interceptions returned for touchdowns, or even in interceptions total, but he often lead KU in tackles, and if there were such a statistic probably would have lead KU in touchdowns that he prevented.

Matt Tait 4 years, 6 months ago

Good call, plastic...

Any players out there that come to mind then? Maybe a Brian Dawkins type, who had a ton of great years in Phily and is now with the Broncos?

Jonathan Allison 4 years, 6 months ago

That's a pretty solid comparison, I can see him being that kind of a do-it-all type safety. He should get some int's, some sacks, and force a lot of fumbles.

Jonathan Allison 4 years, 6 months ago

of course with his speed, you can't count him out of becoming a big play guy. I'll never forget him chasing down that guy from Louisana Tech Livas or whatever his name was.

Eric Sorrentino 4 years, 6 months ago

interesting stuff, tait. I view Reed as a guy (at miami and now with baltimore) that literally wins a few games for his team. I don't think you can say that about many safeties. Keep in mind, Reed had 17 interceptions in his last two years at Miami. He was making huge plays long before he arrived in Baltimore. Not sure I see Stuckey as a guy with as much big-play potential, but I think Reed could be the best safety of all-time. I really like your Dawkins comparison. And I do think Stuckey will be a steal. Good info here, sir!

Matt Tait 4 years, 6 months ago

Thanks, Tino... I wasn't necessarily trying to say Stuckey resembled any of those guys, just trying to get some conversation going.

The more I think about it, though, the more I think Dawkins is a spot-on comparison. Tough, physical, athletic and smart. If Stuckey has half the career that Dawkins has turned in, he'll be a star.

What other safeties are out there he might compare to?

MitchumMan 4 years, 6 months ago

I would love to see the Chiefs take him with either their second 2nd round pick or their 3rd round pick. But that's just wishful thinking.

Matt Tait 4 years, 6 months ago

Probably. I have no idea why KC hasn't taken a chance on more Jayhawks throughout the years. I guess you can't go for all of them, but it seems like they could give a few a try. I know they had Nick Reid in camp, but...

Lone_salina_kufan 4 years, 6 months ago

The thing that makes me hopeful the Chiefs will take a look at him is Pioli's history says he's probably not going to take a safety in the top 5, but safety is a gaping hole for the Chiefs. I think there is a chance, because of his value at that spot, they could take him with either one of their 2nd round picks, or their 3rd, if he's still there. One thing's for sure, they will address that position in the first 3 rounds.

justinryman 4 years, 6 months ago

What if any is the draft chatter on other KU players? ie Kerry, Jake and Desmond. Anything?

justanotherfan 4 years, 6 months ago

I'd love to see the Chiefs grab Stuckey. He's a local guy, a high character guy, and he's just as good as some of the top players, except without the big play potential. He is every down solid, though, which is what you want out of your safeties.

Of course, I am a big proponent of the Chiefs trading down to snag more picks, particularly in the third and fourth rounds, where you can really find great bargains if you do your homework.

Littleapplehawk 4 years, 6 months ago

I agree, Stuckey will be a steal for whatever team is smart enough to take him. I also think Kerry & Dez will be good values for where they are picked. I'm always frustrated by watching the draft and waiting and waiting for KU players to go somewhere. I also agree with one of the other posters earlier that the Chiefs should take a chance on some of these guys at some point. They have seen them all play at some point and should be able to tell what they are getting. I get the Sporting News, and 2 days ago received the pre-draft issue. They have one section where they break down & rate the top 10 at each position, sad to say there are no Jayhawks listed. I thought at least Stuckey would be. Later in the issue, they have a mock draft with the top 100 picks, which is rounds 1,2,& 3, with 2 picks from the 4th rd. Still, no Jayhawks! KU players are just not getting any love from anybody, but we all know that somebody will get some great football out of all 3 of these guys.

KGphoto 4 years, 6 months ago

Okay kids. Now any reasonable discussion about all-time safeties has to include Ken Houston. The guy was a pick-six master in an running era. And Paul Krause must have been a nightmare. I know these guys are too old for you to remember, in fact Krause is too old for me, ( I just remember a lot of highlights of him) but they are Hall of Famers.

But even youngsters can't leave Darren Sharper out of the conversation.

Personally I'd love it if Stuckey went to K.C. and became the next Deron Cherry. Cherry is my all-time favorite safety. And he was a great community guy and ambassador of the NFL. Always around the ball. Tackling, intercepting, and I remember lots of fumble recoveries too.

Stuckey could be Cherry.

KGphoto 4 years, 6 months ago

Oh wait. How about these.

Steve Atwater Kenny Easley Jack Tatum

All huge hitters.

KGphoto 4 years, 6 months ago

I actually made the Dawkins comparison long ago, and I'm sticking with it. The game-day smarts, size, strength and leadership qualities are eerily similar.

But you never know what you're gonna get at the next level. Deron Cherry was signed as a punter originally. Can you believe that?

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