Eric has the overall athletic talent to play any one of the defensive backfield positions. He is fast, quick and has the strength to be used in man-to-man / bump coverage as a CB. He is a QB's nightmare in zone coverage and will knock the head off any wide receiver coming across the middle when being used as a safety in a two deep zone. He has an excellent burst to the ball. He is like a heat-seeking missile when he's close to the line of scrimmage and commits to tackling a ball carrier coming out of the backfield. Eric has Troy Polamalu type talent, but will need some time to develop those talents.
NEEDS TO IMPROVE
Eric struggles at times in man-to-man coverage, but most of his problems in that area, in my opinion, are strictly technique-related and not athletic issues. The big problem I have with Eric is that he does not wrap up when he goes to tackle. At times, he drops his head and goes for the big hit. Also, I'm not sure how much of a leader he is. On the field, it's seems like he is not on the same page with the rest of the defenders. That could be by design, but I'm not completely convinced that's the case. You could move him to CB, but that means his LTI will be longer. Eric has to learn to tackle and play more team defense to become the safety his athletic talents suggest that he can become. I think with good coaching, he will do just that.
Eric has the type of talent (because of his cover skills) to impact like Troy Polamalu (S Pittsburgh Steelers), but I'm not yet convinced he has the same football instincts and intelligence. The biggest hurdle for Eric to overcome is to become a better, and more consistent, tackler. He has to stop propelling himself through the air and not wrapping up. It really is that simple. I think he can do that and I think with this type of talent, you have to take a chance and draft him early. You have to take a chance because Eric could become the focal point of your defense in the future if he continues to develop like his talent suggests. How early in the first round should you take a player with the potential that Eric has? All I can say is this: if Troy Polamalu was a free agent, would you give up a first and a third round pick to acquire him? I would, in a heartbeat! I call him Eric (Wild) Berry because Eric's play right now is a little out of control and wild. With a little bit of maturity and experience, he should be ripe to go.
Drew Boylhart 12/09