Andy Bitter caught up with Torrian Gray who dropped some knowledge regarding the starting secondary this spring, a move "that gives us our best four."
Antone Exum will move from rover to corner. That's a bit of a shock to me. In my mind, Exum staying at rover was the one given in the defensive backfield. Bud Foster had confirmed as much back in February.
"At the safety spot when we looked at our cut-ups, when 'Tone was just able to go out and play, he was unbelievable," Gray said. "When things moved around for him, sometimes it slowed him down. We just want to kind of see if he can do it, 'Hey, you're out here on No. 1 and just play ball.'
"We think it's something worth looking into to see what he can give us out there."
"I'm trying to free your mind, Neo." -- Morpheus
Most of the time speed determines where DBs are slotted in the secondary, faster guys at corner, slower guys at rover and free. During winter testing Exum ran a 4.39 40 (and yes I know that's #BEAMERBALLTIME, but it's relative to the team). I wonder if that number factored into the decision to move him. He'll be a force playing up against the run too. Jayron played at 5-10 171, Exum is 6-0 220 with a thick shoulder.
Kyle Fuller is penciled in at the other corners spot while Detrick Bonner and Kyshoen Jarrett move to "safety" for the start of spring ball.
"Those are the type of free safety guys that we like," Gray said. "You'd kind of like a corner ability-wise but has the physicality to play safety. Eddie Whitley came in as a cornerback. Kam Chancellor came in, he was a cornerback initially. Those are the type of safeties you want — corner-type safeties."
Gray also mentioned he wants Bonner and Jarrett to be "interchangeable". That's how he prepared Eddie Whitley and Exum last season. Rooted in Foster's eight-man fronts, I still think of the rover as the counterpart to Whip, a linebacker playing defensive back, different from free safety. Schematically that may still be true, but if we're fortunate enough to have players with a versatile skill set that can learn both positions and be on the field at the same time, that will allow Bud to tip his hand less and be more creative.
One caveat, it's spring practice, a time where the coaches like to get creative, so there isn't a big disadvantage for trying new things.