Extra Points: ASU’s Randall racing up boards late

(SportsNetwork.com) – Legendary former Yankees pitcher Lefty Gomez once mused
he would “rather be lucky than good.”

And maybe that’s a factual thesis, but the best-case scenario for anyone in any
profession is marrying some of that luck with a good to great performance
level.

Former Arizona State safety Damarious Randall is doing exactly that,
impressing NFL teams with his skill set while taking advantage of the fact only
one of his peers — Alabama star Landon Collins — is a no-doubt-about-it
first-rounder in waiting.

Plenty of NFL teams need help at the safety position and only one will get to
choose Collins, meaning some players will be filling a vacuum despite some
deficiencies as prospects.

In Randall’s case, at 5-foot-11 and under 200 pounds, he’s small for the
position despite having an in-the-box extra linebacker mind-set. That reality
had most draft observers feeling Randall was earmarked for a third- or fourth-
round grade.

Scouts have taken a different path, though, and have become enamored with
Randall’s effort level, athleticism and pure toughness. His NFL Combine
numbers, which included a 4.46 40-yard dash and a 38-inch vertical leap, set
the trajectory putting upward.

A sure tackler, Randall amassed 177 stops during his two seasons in Tempe and
most of those hits packed a wallop on film – text-book, square-the-shoulders
tackles that left his targets reeling.

Like most instinctive hitters, Randall seems to enjoy the physicality of his
job and takes terrific angles, especially in close confines, something that is
lacking in today’s NFL, which tends to put a premium on athleticism above all
else, making for some shoddy tackling on the back end.

Randall is far more comfortable closer to the line of scrimmage and is a
willing and effective blitzer who has a good feel for underneath throws. He
also has wide receiver experience at the junior college level, so his hands
are better than most defenders and he understands the route tree.

The negatives come when Randall starts backing up and getting into space. His
instincts start to dwindle as the grass opens up and his technique in man-to-
man coverage is still raw. He allows speedier receivers to make a cushion
disappear far too quickly and often takes false steps forward because his
default setting is always on attack, a fault that makes him susceptible to
play-action.

On paper, Randall’s speed and athleticism, coupled with his size issues make
him a candidate to move outside the numbers to cornerback. But scratch that
line of thinking, he doesn’t have the technique or man-to-man coverage skills
to contribute at corner, at least early in his career.

What he does have is 14 pounds of added muscle since the end of his college
career and a Ronnie Lott-like desire to stick his nose into the trash.

So while Randall might not have a safety’s body, he has a safety’s personality
and his skills are about to join up with some serious good luck (the poor depth
of the 2015 safety class) for a denouement that some have ending late in the
first round.

“I’m hearing rumors that I’m the number-two safety, that a team could possibly
jump and end up taking me in the late first round,” Randall said at ASU’s Pro
Day. “But I don’t think I’m going to have nothing on the first day. I’m
probably going to be playing FIFA or something and just kind of watching the
draft on the side.”

The Sports Network’s top 10 safeties:

1. – Landon Collins, Alabama

2. – Damarious Randall, Arizona State

3. – Shaq Thompson, Washington

4. – James Sample, Louisville

5. – Jaquiski Tartt, Samford

6. – Adrian Amos, Penn State

7. – Derron Smith, Fresno State

8. – Anthony Harris, Virginia

9. – Anthony Jefferson, UCLA

10. – Gerod Holliman, Louisville