2013 NFL Draft Scouting Report: Robert Lester

Career Recap: The Alabama Crimson Tide have had a dynamite safety tandem with Lester and Mark Barron the past two seasons. Both Lester and Barron have been versatile pass and run defenders who have been integral players for one of the best defenses in the nation.

Lester had a breakout 2010 campaign. He was second in the nation with eight interceptions in his first season as a starter. He also chipped in 52 tackles with one sack and four passes broken up. Barron had a great 2009 season and didn’t play as well in 2010, but Lester picked up the slack. Lester came up huge in his ability to produce turnovers and splash plays.

Lester totaled 36 tackles with three passes broken up, one forced fumble, one blocked kick and two interceptions in 2011. He was close on a lot of other potential picks. Lester and Barron combined to lock down the deep part of the field.

2012 Season Outlook: Lester enters his senior season as an experienced leader who should produce a quality year for Alabama. The Crimson Tide defense lost a ton of talent to the NFL. Courtney Upshaw, Josh Chapman, Dont’a Hightower, DeQuan Menzie, Dre Kirkpatrick and Barron all have moved on. As a result, Lester will receive less help in 2012 with less-experienced talent. At the same time, he will have more opportunities to make plays. Alabama still has a lot of talent around him. As long as he stays healthy, Lester should produce a quality season, and it wouldn’t be surprising if he improves on his 2011 numbers.

Skill-Set Summary: Lester is a good overall free safety who defends the deep part of the field well. He has more ballhawking skills than most safety prospects and will have three years of starting experience entering the NFL. Lester has good instincts and does a good job of reading a quarterback’s eyes. He covers a lot of ground in the deep part of field. He has nice closing speed and rarely is caught out of position.

Lester is a technically sound tackler in the ground game. He is also versatile because of his size. He is big enough to be an in-the-box run defender with the speed to cover the deep part of the field in pass coverage. Lester projects to being a good man-cover safety on tight ends and receivers. With three years starting in the SEC, Lester should be able to play quickly after getting drafted.

2013 Draft Expectations: If Lester has a big senior season, he could be a first-round pick. Both Barron and Lester had massive sophomore campaigns followed by down junior years. Barron was excellent as a senior, and that rebounded his draft stock. Lester could follow that pattern. If, however, he duplicates his junior year Lester should be a second-day selection. It looks like a potentially packed safety class, and that could push Lester lower than he would go in a typical draft.


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