Man-coverage ability on tight ends, slot receivers
Asset to defend big receivers
Fluid; can flip his hips and run
Should be able to play quickly
Experienced and successful against good college talent
Can play free safety, but prefers strong
Timed speed isn't great, but he plays fast
Summary: Some players are so good they jump out at you even when you are studying other players for a more recent draft. That was the case with Adams as he was impossible to miss when watching LSU in 2015. The fast and physical safety was all over the field for the Tigers. Watching tape of LSU, Adams jumped off the screen and commanded viewers to take notice. That season, Adams racked up 67 tackles with six passes broken up and four interceptions. That impressive, high-quality play had NFL teams thinking the sophomore had top-20 potential for his draft class.
Adams recorded 76 tackles with four passes broken and one interception in 2016. Early on, the junior made some nice plays, but wasn't as big of a presence as in 2015. That changed around mid-season as Adams turned in superb games against Ole Miss and Alabama. He helped shut down Rebels receiving tight end Evan Engram and was all over the field against Alabama with an interception, clutch tackles and big plays on special teams.
Adams is excellent with run defense. He is a natural eighth man in the box who has excellent skills to tackle. Adams is also strong, quick, and fast at reading his keys. He comes downhill and has a burst to the flat to defend perimeter runs. Adams will be an asset to help shut down running games.
Adams is a natural strong safety who also has the speed and athleticism to cover. He could help defend against tight ends and receivers in the middle of the field. With his range, strength and instincts, Adams could make a significant impact for his team. In pass coverage, Adams is extremely instinctive and very good at playing zone in the intermediate middle of the field. He is skilled at covering a lot of ground and helping his cornerbacks along the sideline or cleaning up slants, digs or crosses. Adams has flashed that he could be a reliable last line of defense. He is also adept at reading a quarterback's eyes and breaking on the ball. By being around the ball so much, Adams puts himself in position to make a lot of big plays. He has good hands and ball skills to create interceptions, particularly. In zone coverage, Adams is very dangerous as he uses his instincts and intelligence to get in position to affect passing routes.
In watching Adams, he looks more comfortable playing strong safety responsibilities. Adams has the ability to play free safety and isn't bad in that role, but he seems more at home playing strong safety in the short to intermediate portion of the field. Strong safety would probably be his best role in the NFL, and he could be excellent paired with a coverage free safety.
Sources from multiple teams from across the league say that Adams and Ohio State safety Malik Hooker are the best defensive backs in the 2017 NFL Draft. They think those two are better prospects than any of the cornerbacks. Multiple teams picking in the top 10 have confessed their love of Adams to WalterFootball.com, and it would be a surprise if he wasn't a top-10 pick in the 2017 NFL Draft.
Player Comparison: Adrian Wilson. In the NFL, I think that Adams could be a similar player to Wilson. Wilson spent a decade as one of the best strong safeties in the NFL. He was a third-round pick in 2001 out of N.C. State, but obviously Wilson should have been drafted higher. Both Wilson and Adams are physical football players who are always around the ball. Wilson (6-3, 230) is bigger than Adams, but when Wilson entered the NFL, he was 213 pounds. Over his impressive career, Wilson was a five-time Pro Bowler and three-time All-Pro selection. Adams has a similar game to Wilson and could be a potential special strong safety.
NFL Matches: Tennessee, Los Angeles Chargers, Carolina, Cincinnati, Buffalo, New Orleans, Cleveland
There are a lot of potential fits for Adams in the top-12 picks. The highest that Adams could hope to go would be to the Titans with the fifth-overall pick. Tennessee signed Jonathan Cyprien in free agency, and that lessens the need for a safety. The Titans could have a trio with Adams, Cyprien and Kevin Byard. Sources have said that Tennessee loves Adams and Ohio State's Malik Hooker, so safety could still be in play for the organization.
The Chargers need a true replacement for Eric Weddle, and Adams could be a nice fit for them. He could give Los Angeles a presence it was missing in San Diego last year.
Adams could easily go to any of the three teams picking at the end of the top 10. Carolina needs a safety upgrade, but the team might target bigger needs with the eighth-overall pick. The Bengals really missed not having Reggie Nelson last year and have an inclination toward drafting defensive backs early. Buffalo has a need at safety as Aaron Williams has an uncertain future with a neck injury.
If he slips out of the top 10, Adams could quickly get snatched up. The Saints cut Jairus Byrd, and Adams would be an upgrade to New Orleans' vulnerable defense. Cleveland also needs a safety upgrade, and Adams would be a steal for the Browns.