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NFL Draft

2021 NFL Draft Scouting Report: S Paris Ford

  • The Draft Network
  • December 24, 2020
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Pittsburgh safety Paris Ford brings an interesting mix of exciting traits and inconsistency that makes forecasting his role in the NFL challenging. He’s a physical, aggressive, and athletic safety that plays the game with a ton of enthusiasm and urgency. He demonstrates good ball skills with the range and fluidity to be an asset in coverage. Overall, he’s a tone-setter that loves contact and is capable in coverage. Unfortunately, there are restrictions for each of his strengths. Ford is ultra-physical but he doesn’t arrive on schedule due to inconsistent angles and not arriving under enough control to avoid frequent missed tackles. He also lacks the size to be a true box safety and regularly play closer to the line of scrimmage. In coverage, Ford doesn’t have natural route-anticipation skills and he lacks comfort playing in deeper zones. If Ford can develop, he has the makings of an impact starter in the NFL. At a minimum, Ford should have a role in subpackages and provide quality special teams contributions. 

Ideal Role: Ford has a chance to develop into a starting safety in a split zone defense.

Scheme Fit: Split zone 


Written by Joe Marino 

Games watched: UCF (2019), North Carolina (2019), Duke (2019), Virginia Tech (2019), Miami (2019), Syracuse (2020), Boston College (2020), Miami (2020) 

Best Game Studied: Duke (2019) 

Worst Game Studied: North Carolina (2019) 

Football IQ: Ford has all the athletic traits to thrive as a deep zone defender, but he’s still developing comfort defending all that real estate. He has to find the balance between processing the routes in front of him and understanding when to close. Ford is not as comfortable with angles and timing breaking toward the sideline as he is playing forward. He has a tendency to drift a bit and get stuck between zones. There are some issues with calculating angles. 

Tackling: Ford is a physical and aggressive tackler, but he has his share of whiffs. While he often illustrates textbook tackling technique and is always enthusiastic about finishing, he can arrive at the ball carrier without enough control to get squared up. If Ford can clean up his angles and play with better control, he has the potential to become an exceptional tackler. 

Versatility: Ford has positive traits and restrictions when forecasting him to the different roles a safety can fill. He has the athletic traits and range to thrive in deep zones but processing, anticipation, and inconsistent angles lead to mixed results. He's physical, with a sharp downhill trigger, but he’s an inconsistent tackler and lacks the size to play regularly in the box and near the line of scrimmage. 

Range: Ford can cover considerable distances attacking forward in run support and coming up to tackle a short completion. He has plenty of long speed to play as a post safety and break to the sideline, but poorly calculated angles often spoil it. Ford’s urgency and athleticism lead to him always being around the football. 

Ball Skills: Ford’s ball skills shine in condensed areas of the field, especially when he plays a robber technique. He’s comfortable driving forward on the football and disrupting at the catch point. With that said, he isn’t nearly as consistent in deeper zones when he’s tasked with tracking and adjusting to the football down the field.  

Run Defending: Ford is a physical and urgent run defender that loves to run the alley and attack downhill. He’s more than willing to take on contact and spill runs back toward pursuit. He illustrated plenty of enthusiasm triggering toward the line of scrimmage and being physical.  

Functional Athleticism: Ford doesn’t appear to have any athletic limitations. He’s rangy and can cover plenty of distance. He has terrific quickness, fluidity, and speed.

Competitive Toughness: Ford is an extremely physical football player that serves as a tone-setter. He urgently pursues football and is always around the ball. Ford is never content or assuming that someone else is going to make the tackle, he always sticks his face in piles and looks to lay the wood.

Flexibility: Ford is an agile and fluid athlete with smooth mobility in all directions. It would seem that he is capable in man coverage but my exposures did not provide many looks at his skill set mirroring routes. Ford has no issues transitioning or changing directions. 

Special Teams Ability: Ford’s style of play translates well to special teams where his athleticism, urgency, aggressiveness, and physicality are assets. That said, he’ll need to come to balance better to become a better finisher in the open field. Ford played almost no special teams at Pittsburgh so it could take some time for him to contribute.  

Prospect Comparison: Thomas DeCoud (2008 NFL Draft, Atlanta Falcons) 


TDN Consensus: 70.75/100

Joe Marino: 67.00/100

Kyle Crabbs: 67.00/100

Jordan Reid: 74.00/100

Drae Harris: 75.00/100

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