In today's NFL, with teams looking to have explosive offenses, high-caliber defensive backs are no longer a luxury. Many teams are looking to replicate the physical defensive backfield success of the Seattle Seahawks "Legion of Boom," and a hard hitting safety is a great way to start that transition.
How important is a safety who is not scared to put his shoulder into somebody and send a message? When receivers cross the middle, they know they are going to get hit, but if they have seen one of their teammates get clobbered before them, it makes them think twice about how hard they are going to run their route.
Sending those types of messages is just one of the skills that a team could snag late in the draft or in free agency by picking up BYU safety Craig Bills. Bills is coming off a good senior season with 51 tackles (third on the team), 2 pass break ups, 1 interception, and 0.5 tackles for loss. All of this production came with Bills sitting out three games due to injury.
Bills also had a pretty good Pro Day. Here are his results according to nfldraftscout.com:
- 40-yard dash - 4.50 seconds
- 225 lb bench - 19 reps
- Vertical jump - 33 inches
- Broad jump - 112 inches
- 20-yard shuttle - 4.42 seconds
- 3-cone drill - 6.95 seconds
If Bills had run at the NFL Combine, his 40 time would have been the third-fastest time among safeties who ran. The combine average for safeties was 4.59. His bench press reps would have been tied for second among the safety group. In fact, the only drill he wouldn't have scored extremely high was the 20-yard shuttle. With these drill numbers being so important to the draft process, it could help him land a contract with a team as a free agent or even be drafted in the later rounds.
The down side for Craig is his injury history. It is hard to trust a hard-hitting player that now has a history of concussions. In today's NFL, concussions are under much scrutiny and it might make teams shy away from signing Bills because of missing multiple games due to concussions. Hopefully a team will take a chance on him and he will stay injury free and find a place on an NFL roster.