College: College of William and Mary
Position: Free Safety
College Stats: 293 tackles, 10 interceptions, 9 blocked kicks/punts
A four-year starter out of the College of William and Mary, DeAndre Houston-Carson just might be one of the most talented sleeper picks in this year's draft. Houston-Carson began his time at William and Mary as a cornerback, eventually earning all-conference honors at the position. Prior to the start of the 2015 season, he switched from cornerback to free safety and remained just as impressive. Houston-Carson finished the season with the third-most tackles in the Colonial Athletic Association and earned FCS All-American honors.
Houston-Carson is both physically and mentally quick. A short look at his film will show you why this guy is such a nightmare for quarterbacks. With a 4.54 40 yard dash time, Houston-Carson can get from the safety position to almost anywhere on the field in a very short amount of time. Aside from the physical speed, he makes quick decisions and immediately acts on his reads. His jumps off of the snap that resulted in 9 combined blocked kicks and punts throughout his career are a perfect example of how he combines his brain with his body.
Mentally, Houston-Carson is a game changer. He’s one of those guys that just exudes confidence when he steps on the field. His passion for the game results in game-changing blocks, interceptions, and tackles fairly often. You can’t exactly add confidence to a stat sheet, but there are more than a few teams in the league at the moment that could benefit from a guy that gets on the field with the sole intention of changing the game.
Although his aggression serves him well more often than not, Houston-Carson's "all out" mentality has the potential to hurt him. He stays low while tackling but does not consistently wrap up the ball carrier as much as will be necessary to succeed in the NFL. His size and speed will be enough to supply big hits every now and then, but he will need to improve on his ability to wrap up in order to be a reliable tackler in the secondary.
Houston-Carson showed few signs, if any, of struggling in his transition from cornerback to safety. However, his level of competition was not exactly NFL caliber. NFL teams may need to expand on his ability to play free safety against some of the league's best receivers. Don't be surprised to see a team take Houston-Carson with the intention of moving him back to the cornerback position.
Where will Houston-Carson get drafted?
Depending on if he plays cornerback or free safety in the league, Houston-Carson could make a fairly immediate impact. Teams like Washington and Tampa Bay should keep their eye on him at the start of day 3 and make the pick before he is no longer a sleeper pick.
My choice is Tampa Bay in the 5th round.