Xavier Woods – Senior / 5’11” / 197 – LA Tech
- 2016: Arkansas, Western Kentucky
- 2015: Arkansas State, Mississippi State
- 2014: UL-Lafayette, Illinois
The Skinny: To call Xavier Woods at free safety would be a slight misrepresentation. Sure he played in the single high often but really he should be considered a deep safety. Yet, he still comes downhill to feast. He hits like a predator. He may tackle high too often but he wraps up firmly when he can. Woods is just one of those DBs that is always around the ball. His ball skills are good (14 INTs and 18 passes defensed). He does have a tendency to and try strip the ball rather than make the tackle. He always seems to take the proper angle yet the finish is not always efficient. If he hit lower, like in the thigh and came out lifting at least one leg in the air he would have all the power.
Fantasy Outlook: Although he plays deep safety he is generally in the second level making plays. His off coverage skills are better than his man coverage skills. He could excel in a 3-4 scheme that primarily uses zone. Also in a 3-4, he would likely be a strong safety. His short area quickness would transfer very well and his IDP stats could have a steady floor. Pairing him in Pittsburgh with Sean Davis would give the Steelers a fresh shot of athletic youth. In a 4-3 scheme, Woods would likely play free safety. He has enough range to field his half in a two-high look. He could also play in the box on certain situations.
Or imagine Woods as the middle deep player in the quarters formation for Philadelphia between Rodney McLeod and Malcolm Jenkins. Grooming him there with two such phenomenal talents would have a tremendous impact on the whole of Woods’s career.
Chicago is another 3-4 team in need of safety depth. They use a lot of two-high safety looks and Woods could likely earn a roll on their young squad. Oakland uses a 4-3 base and their safeties often take turns being in-the-box. Woods could eventually be paired Karl Joseph when the elder Reggie Nelson is deemed expendable. Oakland has played many off coverage looks under current DC Ken Norton. Things could change with John Pagano now also in the defensive room. Pagano does like to have interchangeable safeties as well and Woods could fit the bill better than Nelson. We saw Nelson’s age in 2016. Woods fresher legs on the back end of the Raider secondary would shore things up.
Since he his a natural risk taker he may be better served to remain in the third level. His solid vision and lack of size help tune this idea. As a rookie, he could be a mirror-backer in sub-package. He could just float with the QBs eyes and “Mirror” his scrambling. This could also expand his vision and broaden his football IQ.
Combine: Woods ran a 4.54 40-time at the scouting combine which was pretty much run-of-the-mill amongst the DBs in attendance. Even though his instincts could be sharper, he is not slow. Straight line speed can be overvalued by the layman. Don’t be overly judgy, his ADP will reflect his slight shortcomings. It is your job not to reach for him. In fact, he could be a final round steal in any type of IDP format.
His 6.72 3-cone drill was tied for second among the safeties. This is by far a more telling attribute as to what his IDP floor may be. This type of agility will allow him to anchor and bob deep. He can wait and see the play develop. It will also allow him to sift through “bigger/stronger” traffic. He might even surprise some slot WRs with a shoulder in the middle of their back at the catch point.
His size profile is a valid concern. But, an offseason or two in an NFL strength and conditioning program and he could add 12-15 pounds of muscle. Then suddenly he is the T.J. Ward body-type in terms of measurables. With some technique purification, we might whisper to ourselves Bob Sanders question mark as we select him to solidify our playoff bound squads.
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