Brief Preview of Safety Xavier Woods
The East/West shrine game takes place this Saturday at 3:00 P.M., on the NFL Network. This is an exciting time for Draftniks because it’s a sign that the draft season has begun. The Bills’ personnel department haven been down in St. Petersburg, Florida looking at some of the talent in this years draft pool.
One player that the Bills interviewed was safety Xavier Woods. Woods is 5’11”, 205 pounds and would fill a big need on the Bills roster. Head Coach Sean McDermott played the position at William and Mary so he knows what traits to look for at this position.
Xavier has racked up 181 solo tackles, four sacks and 14 interceptions in his career at LA Tech.
In McDermott’s defense the safeties are important. Quarterbacks are taught to find the safeties pre snap as part of their reads. The safety structure, IE one high vs. two high, typically reveals the coverage that he will see post snap. But McDermott moves his safeties a ton pre snap to post snap in order to disguise and confuse QBs.
With that said, Woods fits the bill. He is a safety that runs in the 4.4-4.5 range, typical of McDermott’s safeties.
Woods is the type of defensive back that doesn’t shy away from contact. At Louisiana Tech, he was often asked to be a box player and fill when needed.
On this play he inserts into the box as the alley player and fills with force. Woods plays the back outside in, closes the gap and brings him down. He is not afraid of contact and tackles with good form.
One of the traits that McDermott loves in his safeties is not only tackling but their ability to create pressure. Their ability to blitz off the edge is important to McDermott. Last season according to Pro Football Focus his safeties blitzed 44 times and created 13 total pressures. This tactic is something that he brought with him from Jim Johnson’s scheme. Woods has the ability to rush from all over the field.
On this play the defensive coordinator blitzes Woods from the field. Woods does a great job of attacking outside in. He aims to the QBs back shoulder so that the QB can’t break contain. The QB hitches up, but Woods adjusts and gets the sack. Great exhibition in angles and change of direction.
LA Tech also lined him up in the slot at times and he didn’t miss a beat. The WR releases outside then drives down field. Woods mirrors him, shows his fluidity in his hips then gets into the receivers hip pocket. He is aware that he has help over the top so he is able to be aggressive. He feels the WR breaking to the sideline so he runs the route for him and picks the pass off. But it doesn’t end there, he shows off his ball tracking skills, catches the ball at its highest point and even manages to get one foot down. Great play by the senior DB.
Woods is a safety that obviously the staff and scouts believe shows the traits that McDermott is looking for in his safeties. The ability to tackle, rush the passer and cover on the back end. Woods is likely a late round pick or undrafted free agent, but guys like this are the type of players that McDermott has had a knack of developing and finding roles for in his defenses.