Is Eric Berry Worth The No. 5 Pick?

Tennessee S Eric Berry has been projected anywhere from second to ninth is April’s NFL Draft.  With the Kansas City Chiefs in the market for help in the defensive backfield, is Berry — or any safety — worthy of the money a top 5 pick will command?  ESPN’s Mel Kiper was asked just that in a recent mailbag.

Safety is worthy there, you just have to consider the player.  Todd McShay and I have debated this, and I may push Berry a little more, but at what the safety position has become.  I compare Berry to Ed Reed, but Reed is a former NFL defensive MVP, so that’s obviously not happening right away.  Look at Troy Polamalu with Pittsburgh or Bob Sanders with Indianapolis — safeties are critical in certain schemes.  Look at the effect Darren Sharper had with New Orleans.

I think one of the biggest injuries of the whole season was when the Giants lost Kenny Phillips.  It was a dramatic loss for that defense.  In Berry’s case, he’s not huge, but he can cover, he can help against the run, and he’s very physical, because he throws himself into the play.  The only reason he didn’t have more INTs was because of the way Monte Kiffin used him in that scheme.

If the Chiefs believe that Berry can anywhere near the player that Ed Reed has been, there is no way you can pass on him at No. 5 if his is available.  To me he is the second best player available in the draft behind Ndamukong Suh.

No one can deny the Chiefs needs upgrades across the board, but I would argue safety is the only one that hurt them consistently in every game this season.  It’s also the only position of need that you can’t upgrade significatly in free agency.  You can sign a starter in the next month at linebacker, wide receiver, defensive tackle or along the offensive line but look at the unrestricted free agent market and you’ll see very little talent at either safety position.

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