Carlos Henderson and Trent Taylor are the premier draft prospects coming out of LA Tech in this year’s draft, but Xavier Woods is no slouch either.
LA Tech alumni seem to be popping up everywhere in the NFL at the moment – Vernon Butler, Kenneth Dixon, Kentrell Brice – and Xavier Woods is another good player to add to the list.
A hard-hitting safety in spite of his small frame, Xavier Woods showed during his college career that he had a real nose for the football. During this interview with Pete Smith of Draft Breakdown, Woods disclosed his responsibilities and versatility in the backend of the Bulldogs defense.
"Well, I wasn’t strong (safety). I was more of a free but just rotated strong. That’s kind of how our defense was. I was the nickel guy. I played down a lot in Cover-3. I was middle of the field a lot. I was basically the quarterback of the defense. I called all the audibles and plays in the back seven. I can play all four positions – free, strong, nickel or corner. I played all four during my collegiate career."
Besides playing all of those positions on defense, Woods has plenty of experience playing special teams, which will help his cause when trying to make an NFL roster. He displays fantastic effort and is quick to swarm to the ball, break down, and tackle, and as Lance Zierlein notes, Woods has “outstanding instincts and fantastic ball skills.”
A lack of discipline is evident in Woods’ game. He’ll get reckless in the running game and won’t maintain his lane, allowing the running back to break away. I question whether he is always willing to engage a downhill runner or get involved in pile-ups and he could do a better job disengaging blockers.
Needs to improve his tackle technique and the angles that he takes are questionable at times. Does not show the desired quickness or range to be left as a single high safety. His recovery speed wasn’t clear to see on tape, and he’ll occasionally be caught peeking at the quarterback. A little tight and upright in his backpedal, Woods was also susceptible to double-moves in coverage.
Projection: Round 5-7
Despite the fact that I criticized his quickness/explosiveness, Woods had an explosive combine. Who knows whether this impressive showing will quell his doubters but going forward, Woods should be used similarly to Micah Hyde. He offers incredible value as a day three pick, and I fully expect him to make an NFL roster and make a substantial contribution during his rookie year.