Coming into the 2014 NFL Draft, the Cleveland Browns were projected to...
2013 NFL Draft: Cleveland Browns Select Georgia Safety Bacarri Rambo at No. 101
By Kevin Drozin
“With the 101st overall pick in the 2013 NFL Draft, the Cleveland Browns select…Bacarri Rambo, Safety, University of Georgia”
The Browns’ 4th Round selection will be another influenced by the strong opinion of defensive coordinator Ray Horton. Formerly the defensive backs coach in Pittsburgh, and most recently the defensive coordinator in Arizona, Horton has been blessed with talented safeties in his coaching career.
As a member of Dick LeBeau’s defensive staff in Pittsburgh, Horton had the opportunity to coach future Hall-of-Fame safety Troy Polamalu and helped him perfect his craft of being a ball hawk in the secondary, while also being able to come up to stop a RB at the line of scrimmage. Horton adopted LeBeau’s zone blitzing scheme and took it to Arizona where he aided safeties Adrian Wilson and Kerry Rhodes in becoming game-changing defensive backs.
Horton brings his attacking-style defense to Cleveland where veteran strong safety TJ Ward is looking for a partner in crime. The Usama Young and Eric Hagg experiments at free safety have not worked and the Browns will be looking to improve this position in either free agency or the draft.
Standing at 6’1” 215 lbs, Bacarri Rambo would be a perfect complement to TJ Ward in the Browns secondary and would fit in the “little guys that can hit” category coveted by Horton.
Many experts project Rambo to be drafted between the 3rd and 4th rounds, but two violations of the team drug policy in his career at Georgia could discourage teams positioned in the bottom of the 3rd from selecting him and allow him to slide to the Browns early in the 4th.
In his final three years at Georgia, Rambo averaged 70 tackles, 5 interceptions, and 2 forced fumbles per season (including a four game suspension his senior year for his drug policy violation). He made a name for himself being a presence in the Bulldog secondary as his 16 career interceptions are the most in SEC history. Not only known for his ability to read the quarterback’s eyes, Rambo also packs a punch when he meets a ball carrier in the open field.
Watching film on Rambo, you immediately see his desire to be in on every tackle. Typically playing as the deep safety, and occasionally creeping up into linebacker depth, Rambo finds himself in position to make a play on nearly every snap. Whether he’s the one who makes the initial hit, or if he’s cleaning up the play, Rambo loves contact. While having only totaled 6 forced fumbles in his career at Georgia, in this past season’s game against Georgia Tech in particular, Rambo showed an awareness and ability to strip the ball away from the ball carrier when held up.
In pass coverage, Rambo does a fantastic job in his usual deep safety slot, reading the quarterback’s eyes and not allowing wide receivers to get behind him in zone coverage. If the ball is thrown off target, he has a knack for making a break on the ball and getting his hands on it; thrown on target, Rambo uses his strength and leaping ability to meet the ball at its highest point with the receiver and rip his hands away from the ball.
Considering some weaknesses, he likes to really smack the ball carrier, so on occasion Rambo drops his shoulder without wrapping up, leading to some missed tackles. Also, his projected 4.58 second 40-time is fast enough to keep up with wide receivers, but he struggles to make up ground if beaten in man coverage.
Possessing similar natural instincts to those of Troy Polamalu when he came out of USC, Rambo has the potential to become an NFL Pro Bowler, but will need some time to perfect his craft. Joe Haden and TJ Ward, who have both learned to minimize mistakes in their first three NFL seasons, could act as valuable mentors to Rambo who would need to get up to speed quickly as a likely starter on the Browns defense. Add tutoring from defensive backfield guru Ray Horton, and the Haden, Ward, Rambo trio will make the jump to the elite level.
If the Browns front office was to ignore free agency and stick strictly to the Draft, they could still put together a solid group of defensive backs that could become one of the best in the NFL. A fresh, young secondary featuring Dee Milliner, Joe Haden, TJ Ward, and Rambo would have NFL Draft analysts drooling over the talent on the roster, and would give owner Jimmy Haslam the positive publicity he desires.
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