This is another high-upside pick with some risk, as well as another Wisconsin pick. The Falcons scouted Southward at the Senior Bowl and must have liked what they saw from the safety.
Let's hit the good first: Southward is strong, fast and displays consistently good awareness. Those wheels and his size make him deeply intriguing, and the Falcons will look to coach him up into a starter.
The problem? Southward is less polished than other safety prospects currently available to the Falcons, and I don't see a day one starter. Despite all his size and athleticism, he just doesn't keep up with shifty receivers well, and he doesn't have the "fluid" label you'd like to see on a third round safety. This pick was clearly aimed at getting the Falcons someone to take on a starter's role after the stopgap is gone, in the same way they got Thomas DeCoud involved in 2009 and beyond.
I'm not excited by the Southward selection, per se, but I'm willing to see what the Falcons can make out of him. There's no question that with Hageman and Southward, they've given the coaching staff a couple of high-upside defenders who will need nurturing.
What do you think of the pick?
Top Remaining Needs:
- Inside Linebacker
- Running Back
- Wide Receiver
- Tight End
- Jake Matthews, OT, Texas A&M
- Ra'Shede Hageman, DT/DE, Minnesota
- Dezmen Southward, S, Wisconsin