The safety position has truly evolved over the years. The prerequisite for most defenses nowadays call for safeties to check several boxes in how they are deployed and how they are able to match up.
As they usher in a new defensive scheme, the Atlanta Falcons will be looking to add some safety help in the NFL Draft. One that can allow the element of flexibility to be evident every time the defensive unit hits the field. Today, we will dissect a prospect out of the ACC that can be very good chess piece.
Hamsah Nasirildeen scouting report
Weight: 215 pounds
Career stats: 233 total tackles, four tackles for loss, four interceptions, nine pass deflections, three forced fumbles
Games watched: 2018 vs. Boston College, 2019 vs. Clemson, 2019 vs. Florida, 2019 vs. Miami, 2020 vs. Duke
Possessing a special blend of size, length, and athleticism, Nasirildeen is your modern day position-less defender, one who can be moved around and placed just about anywhere on defense.
Nasirildeen earned second team All-ACC honors in 2019, an honor that came after leading the Seminoles in tackles with 101, along with two interceptions. The big bodied safety is assertive in run defense, showing the ability to ‘click and close’. Even with a lean frame, Nasirildeen plays with a physicality that is contagious to defenders around him. If he has to come downhill in pursuit, Nasirildeen shows solid gap discipline on his assignment. In coverage, Nasirildeen has the length and play strength to re-route receivers and force throws to be precise on timing routes. His wingspan was measured at almost 82 inches at his recent Pro Day.
As the NFL incorporates bigger receivers in slot duty along with athletic tight ends, he has the skill set to matchup very well. He surprisingly does not struggle often changing direction while in coverage, which is a common struggle for many bigger defensive backs. He showcases ball skills, but not necessarily in terms of getting hands on interceptions. Nasirildeen is frequently seen using those long arms to rake the ball from ball carriers. Florida State used Nasirildeen exactly how his skill set requires him to be used: in a variety of positions and coverages, taking full advantage of what he can do.
Like most large defenders (especially safeties), long speed is an area that is a large, unavoidable question mark. Due to a hamstring injury, he was not able to run the 40-yard dash at his Pro Day. While at the Senior Bowl, Nasirildeen was seen on more than one occasion beat on routes where he had to simply turn and run, especially against the small receivers.
Nasirildeen’s instincts in pass coverage are average at best. The little things such as getting his head turned around with the ball in air can improve. While Nasirildeen played single-high coverage at times, his overall range when playing deep shows a few negatives. Interestingly, Nasirildeen was not used often in blitz packages as you would expect. That leaves us with a question mark in that realm of how effective he can be, and that’s a critical question mark in a blitz-happy Dean Pees defense.
Nasirildeen tore his ACL late in the 2019 season and missed all but two games of the 2020 season, so it has been a couple of years since he has had a full season worth of duty.
With a hybrid scheme being installed in Atlanta, it makes sense to bring along a certain type of athlete with a hybrid skill set. Nasirildeen is a unique prospect who can help enhance a defense because of his ability to check a few boxes related to physicality and versatility. While he was on the field full time, Nasirildeen was undoubtedly one of the more consistent defenders on the Seminoles defense.
From day one, Nasirildeen can be next in line as the Falcons lead guy at the strong safety position. The departure of Keanu Neal took away an enforcer in the middle of the field. But the presence of Nasirildeen can give the Falcons a wild card on defense when you’re playing in a conference with the likes of Rob Gronkowski, George Kittle, and T.J. Hockenson. Currently, he has a draft range of late second round to middle of the third. The Falcons will of course address their safety position in the draft. If they prefer however to add some size, length and versatility to their secondary, Nasirildeen fits the bill.