In the first of many confidence post, we took a look at what our confidence levels would be regarding Ricky Jean Francois. The highest vote-getter was seven in the confidence poll, with 277 votes out of 1013 and it's still ongoing. Seven implies something along the lines of "not missing a beat" or perhaps, if there is a decrease, it's negligible. So that's how we feel regarding Jean Francoise at nose tackle, so let's turn to another player: safety Reggie Smith.
Smith was drafted as a cornerback, and recently converted to safety. Many considered him to be a core special teamer and nothing more than depth, but coaches and the beat writers noted, during the 2009-2010 offseason, Smith's progress was made in leaps and bounds. He wasn't immediately considered to be a starter, but after Michael Lewis complained his way out of San Francisco, he was suddenly second on the depth chart.
After Taylor Mays had a less-than-spectacular run as a starter, Smith was inserted into the lineup for nothing more than the simple fact that he would at least be consistent. He was exactly that, the picture of consistency, making plays here and there. He didn't grab himself any huge interceptions or smash a quarterback into oblivion, but he stayed in his zone and he compensated for a general lack of coverage ability in the rest of the secondary with his quick feet and nose for the ball.
Smith will be looking at possibly playing one of two positions in 2011: strong and free safety. Many considered him to be a free safety candidate before he was inserted into the starting role at strong safety in 2010, so this post will focus on his potential at free safety.
This isn't to say that he's the leading candidate for the job, nor that it is likely that he'll be starting. Dashon Goldson is a free agent, and will be the favorite to have the job if he returns (though not guaranteed in that role, either way), but this scenario is simply if he has to start at that position. I personally believe Reggie is a better fit at FS than Goldson is, and would prefer to see Goldson at the SS position, but that's for another post.
My take is that I would be more than a little confident in Smith's ability to play the FS position. I think at the very least, he would limit big plays and be reliable on one side of the field, with solid speed and ability to close in on the other side if need be. Rating him a 10 would imply that you think he's going to blow everybody away. Rating him a 5 would imply that Goldson is definitely preferred, but not necessarily bad I'm right around 7.