In grading the Green Bay Packers’ positional units on defense in 2018, the safety position is right near the top as one of the team’s biggest problem areas to fix this offseason. An early release of Jermaine Whitehead and mid-season trade of Ha Ha Clinton-Dix further depleted the team of depth as injuries took their toll on Kentrell Brice, Ibraheim Campbell, and other members of the secondary. There is little doubt that Green Bay will address safety this spring and one way they could do so is through the draft.
And one way to add to the safety unit is a relative of NFL Hall of Famer and Packer legend Herb Adderley.
That would be Nasir Adderley, a free safety from Delaware. Adderley’s grandfather’s cousin was the legendary Herb, a cornerback on the Packers’ first two Super Bowl-winning teams. Nasir has been a star in his own right at the NCAA FCS level with nine interceptions over the past two seasons for the Blue Hens.
Currently, Adderley has been given a day-two grade from many scouts, but an impressive NFL Combine could vault him into the first round. He started off his Senior Bowl invite on the right foot this week, earning praise from NFL Draft guru Todd McShay as a “ball-hawking free safety.” At 5-foot-11 and 195 pounds, Adderley plays bigger than his size and can high-point a ball in coverage. Helping his cause is his versatility to play slot cornerback at the next level, after seeing plenty of one-on-one matchups as a collegiate player, and special teams with experience as a returner and gunner at Delaware. However, as a pro in Green Bay, he would primarily be counted on to fill the deep half of the secondary once occupied by Clinton-Dix.
Although he has somewhat of a thin build, Adderley stands out on tape for his physicality. In many ways, he brings the same aggressiveness that Jaire Alexander showed in Green Bay as a rookie. While Adderley may seek unnecessary contact while taking on blockers in pursuit of the ball, he is a force when he hits the ballcarrier. A high motor and ability to track down runners in the open field was also evident when watching Adderley as a senior.
On top of his more-than-willing desire to tackle, Adderley has been reliable as a single-high safety covering center field. His ability to read and react quickly to cover ground and get to the intended receiver is a trait NFL teams will covet. Against North Dakota State, the FCS champion, Adderley’s area of the field was rarely targeted. And when he was? Adderley jolted the receiver as the ball arrived for an incompletion on one play and almost jumped a route in single coverage for an interception on another.
With highlight-reel interceptions and an all-around skillset, Adderley would be an excellent piece for the Packers to begin building around at safety. With Josh Jones returning as a potential in-the-box safety, Green Bay could be scanning the market for more of an upgrade at the free position. While Adderley’s level of competition will be lower than other draft prospects in the latter end of round one and early part of round two, his ability should translate just as well to the NFL. After all, the Packers did very well when they selected another FCS safety in round two of the 2005 draft in Nick Collins.
If the cards fall right, perhaps another small-school product and another Adderley will be making his name in Green Bay next season.