When we think top college football talent, the SEC is the first conference that comes to mind. The top defensive back in the upcoming draft will be coming out of the ACC though.
The SEC is the college conference where most of the top-level talent resides. After the SEC it is usually the Big 10 or the PAC12 unless your name is Clemson. Looking at the defensive backs in this draft class though the best of the group may be coming from a different ACC school than Clemson. The University of Pittsburgh rosters a young man by the name of Paris Ford. Ford has been excellent throughout his college career and is a legitimate playmaker. Let’s take a look at what makes Paris Ford such an intriguing prospect.
Paris Ford Measurables
Weight: 190 lbs.
Projected 40 time: 4.50 seconds
Paris Ford As A Prospect
Paris Ford was a highly decorated high school recruit. He was graded very high on all accounts, the #5 safety by Rivals, #6 by Scout and #7 by 247 Sports. He played both sides of the football and scored 22 total touchdowns in high school including receiving, rushing, special teams, and defense. Ford showed off his playmaking his senior year returning six interceptions for touchdowns. He was listed as a top-three recruit coming out of Pennsylvania and was highly sought after. Ford received scholarship offers from every major school you can think of including Alabama, Michigan, Penn St., Ohio St., Tennessee, Florida, Florida St., and more. He chose to stay close to home and sign his letter of intent with the University of Pittsburgh.
Paris Ford NCAA Career To Date
Freshman Year – 5 tackles (3 solos)
There is not much to say about Paris Ford’s freshman year, he just never saw the field. He redshirted his official freshman year only to appear in four games and make a minimum impact in his redshirt freshman year.
Sophomore Year – 90 tackles (56 solos), 2.5 tackles for a loss, 9 passes defended, 3 interceptions, 3 forced fumbles and a touchdown.
Paris Ford’s sophomore year was lightyears better than his freshman year as Pittsburgh gave him ample opportunity to succeed…and that he did. The Panthers have claimed that even with Ford’s 190 lbs. frame that he is the hardest hitter they have rostered over the last two decades. As a sophomore Ford ranked first on the team in both tackles (97) and interceptions (3), and second on the team in pass deflections (11) and forced fumbles (3). He was named to the first-team All-ACC squad for his sophomore year as well. In a contest against Duke Ford put up 12 tackles, two interceptions, one in which he returned for a touchdown and was named the ACC Defensive Back of the Week.
Junior Year – 41 tackles (30 solo), 3 tackles for a loss, 1 pass defended and 3 interceptions.
Ford continued his playmaking prowess his junior season playing in and starting all seven games he appeared in. He had 41 tackles, three for a loss and three interceptions striking fear into the eyes of the opposition. In the first game of the season, Ford was named to the Pro Football Focus Team of the week after he had a game of four tackles and an interception. Ford received plenty of preseason accolades including the Bronko Nagurski Trophy list, the Chuck Bednarik Award watch list, and the Jim Thorpe Award list. He was also named a preseason All American First team by Phil Steele. After seven games Ford felt that he made a good enough impact and decided to opt-out for the remainder of the 2020 season.
Paris Ford Scouting Report
Paris Ford is one of my favorite IDP prospects in the 2021 draft. Ford packs a mean punch and for a 190 lbs. frame, he hits like a linebacker. He is terrific working downhill in run support and packs a mean pop. Watch here the hit he lays on the ball carrier:
— Ryan Roberts (@RiseNDraft) July 27, 2020
Then watch here in the same game as he drives the ball carrier backward:
— Ryan Roberts (@RiseNDraft) July 27, 2020
Ford has elite speed and has one of the quickest close outs in the nation. His speed allows him to make plays all over the field in both run support and in coverage. He also takes excellent angles when coming downhill in run support. Watch here how quickly he closes out to make the tackle for a loss:
The amount of ground covered to make the TFL by Pittsburgh S Paris Ford is impressive. pic.twitter.com/tTxWWTfm6J
— Cam Mellor (@CamMellor) November 23, 2019
He does a terrific job playing the screen game with good play recognition and sound tackling. Ford does always keeps his eyes on the quarterback. He makes good reads with great anticipation that routinely results in a forced turnover. Watch here the break he makes on the football and comes up with the easy interception:
3 INTs on the year thus far for Paris Ford. Guy is a playmaker. One of the hardest hitters in the safety class as well. He’s firmly a Top 5 safety in the 2021 NFL Draft.
— Nick Farabaugh (@FarabaughFB) October 17, 2020
Ford has the speed, ball skills, and ferocity to play in any defensive scheme, whether it be cover 2, playing single-high safety, or even strong safety. His size says he should not play strong safety though his playstyle would beg to differ.
Paris Ford is not the perfect prospect, he does have things he needs to work on. He needs to work on squaring up a little better when tackling. Sometimes he is a bit overaggressive and tries to lay down the hammer as opposed to wrapping the ball carrier up. Ford needs to show better recognition of his zones. There are times you see him either too shallow or deep which allows plays to be made, often leaving him a step late. Though Ford takes great angles downhill, when pressing the sideline he can get too horizontal in his angles and uses his speed to make up for it.
Again, Paris Ford is one of my favorite IDP prospects for the 2021 draft. He has an elite skill set for the safety position that can allow him to thrive in any defensive scheme he is presented with. He has great tackling mixed with speed and terrific ball skills that can make him a problem in the NFL. Teams searching for a playmaker in the secondary like the 49ers, the Jaguars, the Ravens or even the Steelers should pounce on this kid. Imagine a tandem of Paris Ford and Minkah Fitzpatrick in the Steelers’ secondary. Ford should be able to make an impact from day one on any NFL squad and I for one will be excited to see where he lands.
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