Top Safety Prospect Chinn's D.C.: His Versatility Is Key
Though the Eagles lost a prominent leader in Malcolm Jenkins, arguably the heartbeat of his respective unit, they restocked the position by adding Will Parks in free agency, while re-signing Rodney McLeod and Jalen Mills. On the surface, the position appears rectified for the short term. Beneath the surface, however, the depth chart remains absent of a young, developmental safety. Even though there are far more pressing needs that permeate the roster, the team could finally opt to invest significant draft capital on the position this time around. Southern Illinois product Jeremy Chinn, one of my top prospects of this entire class, has seen his stock skyrocket thanks in large part to a stellar pre-draft cycle which began in Mobile at the Senior Bowl. Chinn, who at 6-foot-3, 221 pounds, fits the bill of the new age NFL defender, possesses the requisite size and speed to matchup against hybrid tight ends, dynamic running backs in the passing game, and wide receivers of all shapes and sizes.
(Southern Illinois safety Jeremy Chinn is a top-50 NFL Draft prospect and one of the most versatile safeties in the class.) Here’s a Q&A with his defensive coordinator at Southern Illinois, Jason Petrino: Q. Describe Chinn’s character? A. “As good of a player he is, he’s an even better person. I’ve never been around a more humble, driven person in my life.”
Q. How do you explain Chinn’s pre-draft surge? A. “I think between the Senior Bowl and the Combine, a lot of people were impressed with his physical nature. One coach even said he went up to him and said, ‘Hey, can you show me which one is Jeremy Chinn?’ and he said, ‘I’m Jeremy Chinn,’ and he said, ‘You’re not Jeremy Chinn. You’re a linebacker!’” I think people look at him and they see that he can play multiple spots, whether it’s a box safety, overhang safety, or even a linebacker." Q. How well did he transition to a new defensive scheme in 2019? A. “I got hired in December (2018), and I sent [Chinn] my old playbook so he could look through it and see the terminology. Between December and January, I was recruiting nonstop, so I didn’t get a chance to sit down with the guys. As we got back in February, what really blew me away, was that [Chinn] wanted to speak the language at a very fast rate. It was important for him to understand terminology, so that we could speak and understand each other faster. “Chinn wanted to learn it right away. He didn’t want to associate with what they used to do, he wanted to know what we were doing now. I was blown away how quickly he was able to adjust and adapt, because he was limited last spring, coming off a labrum. But, it was important for him to be able to listen, talk, and assist his teammates.” Q. How you describe Chinn's passion for the game?
A. "Over the summertime, he’d watch film, kind of seeing eyes through the quarterback -- what a quarterback reads and where his eyes are at. Even during the year, he’d come in on the day off, like a quarterback does, and be like, ‘Okay, what are we thinking, what do they do well, what’s our plan?’ Then, he would come in before everybody else on Tuesday and want to know the third-down plan. He loves everything about football. He’s not one of those kids that don’t feel like practicing, he’s like, ‘I can’t wait to practice. I’m going to get better at something.’”
Q. What are some of Chinn’s strengths? A. “His is ability to run; he can run with anyone. His junior year, he played Ole Miss, and he’s running with some pretty good receivers. Also, his ability to matchup with slot receivers, tight ends -- anybody in that area. I think he really shored up his tackling his senior year; he bought into some of the techniques we taught and really became a better tackler. "The things you don’t see, is his mental approach and his preparation. He watches a lot of film, and takes the terminologies and route concepts and understands what a team does, and knows that these are our tags and our calls based on these formations.”
Q. What makes him the best safety in the 2020 NFL Draft? A. “His versatility, I’ll say that right away. I think he can be a back safety, I think he can be an overhang, and I think he can be a linebacker if you asked him to. He’s going to be able to matchup and run with anybody, and he’s going to be able to understand the playbook schematically, and take what he learns in the meeting rooms and apply that onto the field. And, just his coachability -- if you tell him something, he’ll come out the next day and do it the way you told him to do it. He’s going to play football for a lot of years, he’ll be accountable, and a team is going be extremely fortunate and blessed that they drafted this kid and brought him into their program.” Q. How is his leadership style? A. “He’s very quiet. He’s going to do the work, but he’s not Ray Lewis, where he’s going to come out there and pound his chest and have a great message. It’s gonna be very direct, ‘We’re here to work, let’s get to work.’ I think everybody looks to him to be that the leader of the team, and he knows it. It’s not one of those things where it’s an emotional roller coaster, where if Chinn’s feeling good we’re gonna play good, if Chinn’s feeling bad we’re gonna play bad – he’s the same all the time.”
-Andrew DiCecco (@ADiCeccoNFL) is a contributor to InsideTheBirds.com. He also writes for Pro Football Network. Listen to the latest Inside the Birds podcast with Adam Caplan and Geoff Mosher here: