J.J. Wilcox Scouting Report

April 6th, 2013
JJ Wilcox

(Photo: US Presswire)

Prospect: J.J Wilcox, FS, Georgia Southern
Height: 6’0”
Weight: 213 lbs
Grade:  6.75 (Grading Scale)

Combine Notables:
40 time- 4.57
Top Performer in- 20 Yard Shuttle (4.09 secs)

Scouting Report:

Has the ideal NFL safety build- strong upper body and midsection, yet lean cut
+  Overall strength for the position is above average
+  Turns hips fluidly when not at high speeds
+  Very good acceleration, especially with his straight line speed
-  Sloppy in his balance and body control at times, especially when changing directions
+/-  More fast than he is quick

Zone Coverage
Makes up for sub-par instincts in zone by being able to zero in on target and delivering effective hits
+/-  Inconsistent instincts in zone, but a gambler who can’t make plays when he reacts fast enough
-  Lacks quickness to transition from zone to contesting a pass inside his area
-  Doesn’t cut off receivers’ angles well when the pass is thrown to receivers within his range of making a play
-  Either too unaware or lacks the instincts to put himself in a good position to contest passes within his zone
-  Positioning when asked to play “centerfield” is often far deeper than it should be

Man Coverage
+  Shows ability to press effectively and aggressively right out of the slot
+  Flips hips smoothly to keep up with faster receivers
+  Uses much cleaner/polished tactics in man compared to his zone coverage; effectively latches on to receivers without getting too physical on vertical routes
+  Shows great ball location skills; doesn’t waste time or movement in turning and finding the ball
=  To be fair, his competition never exactly spread their offenses out enough to seriously challenge his man coverage
-  Ball skills leave a bit desired, as he doesn’t have experience on defense to make plays on the ball other defenders can
-  Struggles with instincts when not allowed to press, as quicker receivers can easily get him to bite

Run Support/Tackling
+  Fearless tackler; he never loses speed or tenacity when closing on the ball carrier
+  Excellent wrap-up tackler when he tackles ball carriers low
+  Always looking to deliver a hit, even in some instances when other players would deem it not worth their effort
+/-   Impressive how he doesn’t hold back with his momentum when bearing down on ball carriers, but can sometimes lead to poor balance and body control
+/-  Instincts hold him back from collapsing runs altogether, but plugs gaps up quickly when play develops
+/-  Very consistent tackler when he takes the time to break down, but only does so occasionally at full speed
-Doesn’t change directions very well; once he’s locked on to a ball carrier, his inability to adjust closing will cause missed tackles
-  Has yet to learn how to take on blocks so that he can not just occupy blockers, but have a shot at the runner
-  Needs to learn how to fight for disengagement from blocks, just gets absorbed by them

Return Ability
Aggressive return man who isn’t afraid of running into contact areas to find a hole
+  Keeps his feet churning like a RB through contact
-  Has shown the tendency to fumble due to not bracing for hits

+  Hard worker on special teams, and not just with returns
+  Always chases plays down away from him
-  Seems a bit out of tune at times, or just not focuses in on the play’s development as it happens
=  Any poor awareness on the field can be credited to the one year of experience he has on defense altogether, so coaching can only get him more comfortable at the position

Wilcox is instantly intriguing as a small school prospect, considering how much of a punch he packs with every hit despite not being particularly big.  His overall awareness and instincts will hold his stock back, but teams will understand that Wilcox only has one year of defensive play under his belt (played running back and slot receiver at Georgia Southern his previous three years).

Wilcox is listed as a free safety, but I think his skillset makes him pretty interchangeable.  He has shown important aspects that versatile guys, like Kenny Vaccaro, have shown throughout this draft process.  These include: his ability to press, run with quicker receivers deep, hitting ability, and usually solid tackling.  Sure, Wilcox isn’t a polished safety yet, but development to the one year safety could make all the difference, considering quicker instincts and awareness with come with more time and work.

With those flaws seemingly works in progress, the only considerable knacks on Wilcox are his recklessness and directional issues.  Quality NFL safeties that remind me of  what Wilcox can become, like Bernard Pollard, for example, don’t have the loose hips that scouts love to see, either.  Then, Wilcox’s aggressiveness can be toned down because of his youth at the position.  It’s not like he’s D.J Swearinger, who is just a chaotic safety.  Wilcox is rolling into this draft with momentum, and he is a very mold-able specimen, having already mastered some intriguing skills that versatile safeties require.

Scouting Notes

Vs Old Dominion:
Played receiver right out of the slot, ran with him 30 yards downfield stride for stride 
- Sits in zone, doesn’t cut off the angle of slot receiver very well when he has the ball, then misses tackle high when he overpursues
-Runs with WR out of the slot, locates the ball, deflection (unfairly PI’d)
-Doesn’t brace or shield ball from contact on a return, and he fumbles 
-Takes on lead blocker on a screen on the wrong side, can’t get any release 
-Patiently sits in zone coverage, than appropriately breaks on ball, picking it off (wasn’t a very clean play on the ball, however)

Vs Samford:
-Closes on a stretch run, but his speed combined with agility issues cause him to fail in a low tackle attempt
-Once again, his speed overtakes him on a blitz, and can’t turn his hips to get a good shot at the scrambling QB, who avoids his easy sack
-Poor reading of the QB’s eyes lets him be easily faked by a simple pump fake, allows pass to be completed when he originally had solid coverage in zone



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