Clemson might have locked up Kearse as a recruit by giving him the choice of playing safety or receiver once arriving on campus. Not only did he prefer the physical aspects of the game in spite of his frame, but he also has some excellent family resources to access on the defensive side of the ball; his uncle is former Florida and NFL pass rusher extraordinaire Jevon Kearse and cousin is former Miami and NFL star cornerback Phillip Buchanon. He started just three games in his freshman season, playing in 12, but still managed to make 55 tackles and tie for the team lead with four interceptions. Kearse started at safety his sophomore campaign (67 stops, five for loss, three sacks, two interceptions) and continued that success in a first-team All-ACC junior season (62 tackles, 6.5 for loss, one interception, six pass break-ups). The Associated Press voted him second team All-American in 2015, as well, as he joined a bevy of talented defenders and Heisman hopeful quarterback Deshaun Watson in putting together an undefeated regular season and national championship game appearance.
PRO DAY RESULTS
Short shuttle: 4.6 seconds
Freakishly tall and long for the position with limbs that go on for days. Straight line athlete with long- strides who is able to come from two-deep and close ground quickly on deep sideline throws. Suited for single-high coverage. Will read quarterbacks eyes and shade coverage accordingly while staying deeper than the deepest receiver. Deployed near line of scrimmage with some success. Has the length and range to become a volume tackler if his desire improves. Able to contribute immediately on special teams coverage and finished 2015 with seven special teams tackles. Coaches commend him for his personal growth and improved maturity.
Built more like a rail-thin shooting guard than a safety. Play demeanor and effort level can best be described as blasé. Slow to get set presnap. When playing near line of scrimmage, was slow to diagnose counters and got stuck out of position to make tackles. Want to see more urgency to make plays near in the box. Can be mismatched in man coverage by shifty slot receivers. May be too tall to open hips and accelerate quickly enough in man and change of direction is inconsistent. Production level should be much higher with his physical gifts. Too many busts in coverage leading to free running receivers.
Rounds 5 or 6
SOURCES TELL US
"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?" -- NFC southeastern scout
Odds are that Kearse will test well and with his length and ability, he very well may go much higher than the grade I have on him. To play safety, there needs to be a sense of urgency and consistency because that position is the last line of defense and Kearse doesnt show those traits nearly enough at this time. If the light comes on and he gets more dog in him, then we are talking about a substantially better NFL player.