TAMPA, FL - JANUARY 02: Tight end Brian Linthicum #88 of the Michigan State Spartans catches a pass against safety Bacarri Rambo #18 of the Georgia Bulldogs in the Outback Bowl January 2, 2012 at Raymond James Stadium in Tampa, Florida. (Photo by Al Messerschmidt/Getty Images)
There’s no doubt that Georgia safety Bacarri Rambo has the physical tools (6-1, 211 pounds with 4.56 speed) to play in the NFL, but some teams have concerns over his character. Rambo failed two drug tests in college, leading to a team-imposed suspension in 2012.
Rambo really broke out for Georgia in 2011, registering 55 tackles and a team-high eight interceptions. Rambo added 12 tackles to his 2012 total despite missing four games due to his suspension. With 16 career picks, NFL teams know Rambo has a lot of upside in the back end, but the well-rounded safety will need to convince organizations that he won’t be a problem off of the field.
Rambo really excels in coverage; he can play both the deep half and deep middle—one of the few true free safeties in this draft. At 6-1, Rambo has the height to make plays in the air against taller receivers. He’s always in on plays because he reads the quarterback extremely well and possesses the acceleration to get to the football. Once he’s in position to make a play, Rambo’s ball skills are outstanding. He has game-changing potential; he’s probably the best bet to lead all rookie safeties in interceptions, assuming he gets on the field.
Rambo is a physical safety who isn’t afraid to mix it up in the running game. He’s aggressive, although he could certainly improve as a tackler by using better technique. He too often goes for knockout shots as opposed to wrapping up. Rambo will also need to be careful with helmet-to-helmet contact in the NFL, as he often looks to punish receivers running across the middle. However, he typically does a good job of lowering his shoulder to knock the ball out without drawing a flag.
Rambo’s biggest weakness is that he plays a high-risk/high-reward type of game. He’ll make big plays, but he also jumps routes and can get burned at times. He made up for it a lot at Georgia, but when Rambo lets a receiver get behind him in the NFL, he won’t be able to catch up.
NFL Comparison: Morgan Burnett
Like Packers safety Morgan Burnett, Rambo has some versatility to his game, capable of playing physically in the deep middle. Rambo actually has more upside in coverage.
Rambo is probably looking at the third or fourth round. Teams will be scared off by his repeat failed drug tests—as they should—but Rambo offers upside that you typically can’t find in the middle rounds. That makes Rambo great value even in the third round, in my view. I’d grade him as a late-second round prospect, and that’s taking into account the off-field risks. If Rambo were a squeaky clean player, he’d probably crack my top 40 prospects.
Fit In Dallas
Rambo would be a tremendous addition to the Cowboys' secondary because he can play the deep half when the team is in Cover 2 and he can move to the deep middle in single-high looks. Rambo would be an excellent free safety complement to strong safety Barry Church.
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Jonathan Bales is the founder of The DC Times. He writes for DallasCowboys.com and the New York Times. He's also the author of Fantasy Football for Smart People: How to Dominate Your Draft.