Jayron Kearse has NFL bloodlines as the nephew of former defensive end Jevon Kearse and cousin of former first-round cornerback Phillip Buchanon.
Kearse has the look of a game changing safety at 6’4” 216 pounds with long limbs and a thick build. He carries a presence when tackling and he out sizes most wide receivers.
The Clemson safety is a long strider and shows some closing speed and ability to cover a lot of ground, but unfortunately he ran a surprisingly slow 4.64 forty time at the combine.
Kearse is a polarizing prospect who put together a solid sophomore season in 2014, finishing third on the team in tackles (60), second in passes defended (seven) and tied for first in interceptions (two) for the Tigers. As a junior in 2015, Kease was voted second team ALL-American and first-team All-ACC with 62 tackles, one interception, and six pass break-ups.
Not uncommon for tall prospects, Kearse struggles with short area quickness and stiff hips. His below average acceleration and agility makes it difficult for him to hang in a receiver’s hip pocket in man coverage. Kearse is more suited as a single high safety who can read a quarterback’s eyes and make a play on the ball. He has intimidating size and good awareness, however, one NFC South scout had this to say on Kearse’ s NFL.com profile.
“He’s a big guy, but he just doesn’t make many plays. You see him out there just drifting around sometimes and you just wish he had the same attitude and fire that the rest of that defense has because he could be so much better. Do you draft him on traits and hope your coaches reach him?”
There aren’t many safeties in the NFL with Kearse’s size and skill-set, so, Mike Zimmer has plenty of clay to mold with the Vikings seventh round pick (244 overall). Turning Kearse into the next Kam Chancellor might not be as simply as lighting a fire under him or adjusting his attitude, but Zimmer certainly is the right coach for this late round project. If Kearse can click with the coaching staff, he might be able to make an early impact on special teams.