All season long I have made this statement "Champ to FS is the smartest thing we could do in our secondary" Even today I hear people say how crazy this is. Saying that a FS needs to be able to make cuts, come off the point of attack, and I say to them…."What does a Corner do then?" Playing corner takes WAY way more skill than Safety. I played LB in high school and college until my Junior year a Pro Scout asked my coach about my abilities to cover space. That year I was moved to Safety. I played 2 seasons as Safety in college, then 1 year in the CFL, and had a tryout in 2002 with the Broncos, so I might know something about the position. Corner takes way more skill, speed, agility, and quickness than Safety. Safety is just that a safety valve. Be a sure tackler, be in the right spot, and let NOTHING behind you! That nothing behind you still gets me, how does Moore let Jones get behind him? Anyway- All of you saying "you have to press off" Stop it, you don’t have a clue. Cornerback is one of the most pressing positions in the game, consistent moving, shifting, breaking, pulling…it takes a true stud to be a great corner, not safety. Trust me I know firsthand.
Now to drop some knowledge on you:
Moving a college cornerback to safety is nothing new. Neither is moving a player who has experience at cornerback in the NFL to the deep position.
As current as New England’s Devin McCourty and Buffalo’s Jairus Byrd have made NFL teams start thinking about utilizing the conversion more often. Both players played cornerback in college (McCourty also started his Patriots career at corner) and are now two of the best cover safeties in the NFL at a time when the NFL is sorely lacking those type of players. If there was a better cover safety in the NFL last season than McCourty, it was Buffalo’s Byrd. Since being drafted No. 42 overall in 2009 — just eight picks after Patrick Chung, and one pick after Darius Butler – Byrd has been a two-time All-Pro and two-time Pro-Bowler. He has 18 interceptions in four seasons with Buffalo.
In today’s NFL, it makes sense to take players like McCourty and Byrd, who have the cover skills of a top-tier cornerback, and play them at free safety. They may not be as physical as an Adrian Wilson or Lawyer Milloy, but with more and more big hits being barred over the middle, the need for a safety who can intimidate a wide receiver is becoming less needed.
Safeties still need to be physical enough to guard tight ends and running backs, but covering a Rob Gronkowski or Jimmy Graham is just as much about speed as it is about strength. By nature, safeties aren’t the same type of athletes as cornerbacks.
Elite safeties who played the position in college are still around and will continue to be drafted. Earl Thomas, Eric Weddle, T.J. Ward, Ed Reed and Troy Polamalu all played safety in college. But some of the top players all time at the position, like Ronnie Lott and Rod Woodson, started their careers as cornerbacks. Lately, we’ve seen older cornerbacks like Charles Woodson and Ronde Barber successfully make the transition.
Cornerbacks are generally viewed as more valuable players in the NFL. They’re paid more and drafted higher. But if a team has an excess at cornerback and a lack of premier players at safety, like the Patriots had when they moved McCourty, it makes sense to try to convert a player. It certainly worked in New England for McCourty and in Buffalo for Byrd.
The time has come. Champ isn’t the corner he once was, he won’t be again. Make the move and hope he is the next Ronde, Charles Woodson type player who played past their primes but were All Pros and Pro Bowlers because of the transition.