The NFL is constantly evolving, and with the change in rules leading to more prolific offenses, defenses have to get creative in their approach. We have started to see the development of hybrid players, most notably between the safety and linebacker positions.
The San Francisco 49ers are making significant changes to their defense, and it would not be surprising to see them make some adjustments that get creative with such hybrid players. On Wednesday, they met with one such player at the South Dakota Pro Day. The 49ers were one of four teams on hand, and they were one of the four teams on hand to spend some extra time with safety Tyson Graham, according to NFL Draft Diamonds.
Graham measured in at 6’1, 208 pounds at the Pro Day, and after joining South Dakota as a wide receiver, he moved over to the defensive side of the ball as a sophomore. From there he played free safety for much of the rest of his time at the university. Graham said the scouts on hand had him running both linebacker and safety drills.
In a recent interview, he was asked if his skillset fits a potential hybrid safety/linebacker role. He had this to say:
I do think my skillsets fits the new mold of the Hybrid position in the NFL. Especially with my versatility and athleticism I think I would be able to adjust to that role just fine and still have an impact. With me playing SAM linebacker and strong safety my last year, that also helped a lot. But if I were asked to do so at the next level, I wouldn’t have any hesitation to do so.
At 208 pounds, he does not have the size to play the traditional SAM role in the 49ers new defense, but if the 49ers decided he was worth a look, we could see him used in some of the more unconventional defensive looks they might present. He would likely compete for special teams work out of the gate, but if he was going to make an impact on defense, it would be in a utility role.