With the draft a little over a week away, the one thing you will start to notice is just how much talent from the Big 12 should end up in the first round. One of the players expected to go a little later — Kansas safety Darrell Stuckey — said that playing against so much top flight talent is the reason why he will be successful.
“The Big 12 gets a lot of credit in me being a balanced safety right now,” Stuckey said at the NFL combine. “It’s one of the most diverse conferences when it comes to running attacks and passing attacks.
“You might have a Nebraska and a Colorado, and even (Oklahoma) running the ball and powering at you. And then you turn around, and you have Texas Tech just gunslinging it everywhere.”
Stuckey, a product of Washington High School, played two years at free safety and two at strong safety at Kansas and was the Jayhawks’ special teams player of the year in 2008, versatility that will bode well for the NFL.
“Most of (the teams) tell me that you have to be able to play both (safety positions) to be successful in the NFL, and I believe I can,” said Stuckey, expected to be a mid-round draft pick. “The ball is mainly going to be in the middle of the field because the hashmarks are a lot tighter anyway. So you’ve got to be able to play both sides.”
“Any time you talk about the NFL versus college, everything changes,” said Stuckey, who measured 5 feet 11 1/2 and 205 pounds at the NFL combine. “The margin for error is a lot smaller. But you have to fight your game, make it better all the way around. It can’t be just a little bit here and there.”
Scott Pioli took a local prospect — Missouri’s Colin Brown — in the fifth round last season and if Stuckey is still around I’d love to see the Chiefs GM go that route again.
With Kansas City’s lack of any depth at safety, even if they take Eric Berry in the first round they are almost certain to draft one or two more players to help solidify the defensive backfield. Stuckey has some work to do before he’s a starter at the next level, but he can help on special teams from day one.
Stuckey had a great showing at the East-West game (7 tackles) and put up solid numbers (4.49 40) at the combine, making him a player on the rise right now. While he could come off the board in the third round, the Chiefs could probably grab Stuckey with their fourth round pick.