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Anatomy of a late round steal

(Who was ... Antonie Bethea)

A 6th round pick that wins the starting job away from an established starter in training camp, made the Pro Bowl in his second season as a starting safety for an elite pass D. How did he fall?


Bethea led Howard University in tackles his last 3 seasons, being named All-MEAC and All-American twice. in 37 games (31 starts) he recorded 309 tackles (109 solo), 3 sacks, 12 tackles for loss, forced 7 fumbles, intercepted 7 passes, and defensed 18 passes.

Positives: Has broad shoulders, good arm muscle definition, good bubble and the balance and body control to accelerate quickly to the ball... Has exceptional closing quickness and loose hips to turn and run on the ball coming out of his backpedal... Shows good hand usage to reroute tight ends and backs at teh line of scrimmage... Breaks on the ball quickly and recognizes routes playing in the zone... Has a consistent burst to close and does a good job of sifting through traffic to locate the ball... Has the range to make plays along the sideways and does a good job of timing his leaps to compete for the ball in the air... Will knock down more passes than he catches, but gets into good position to make the play (lacks valid hands though)... Uses his size well in run force and will deliver good pop on contact... Does a good job keeping his pads down and shoulders square to wrap up and secure... Big hitter who is very effective at attacking the ballcarrier at stripping the ball... Makes the secondary calls and does the little extras to improve, spending additional hours in the film and weight rooms.

Reacts fast and explodes to the ball, great at positioning himself in pass D, hard hitting in run support. It seems like every team should be all over him. The quick breaks and route recoginition from zone D really highlight him as a guy for the Colts.

Negatives: Has good field vision and can locate the ball working through traffic, but gets over aggresive in his play and gets caught out of position too much, especially when biting on play action... Can turn and run on the ball, but sometimes prefers to attack it rather than stay tight with the receiver on deep routes, losing containment... Does not have ideal height, so he needs to time his jumps properly to get the ball at its highest point... Has stone hands and will double catch and bobble several easy interceptions, resulting in pass delflections instead.

So he bit on the play action, has terrible hands and isn't abnormally tall. The 2006 Colts were bad against play action, so a rookie safety that bit hard on the fakes in college is probably a part of that. The Colts were very good vs play action last season so Bethea has probably improved in that area. Bethea picked off 4 passes last year so his hands might not be stone, but the key dropped INT of Brady in the 2007 Pats game shows his hands still need work.

USA Today projected him as a 3rd or 4th round pick. He lasted until late in the 6th. That was a surprise to the guys at New Era Scouting as well. During their draft day chats this past draft they referred to a player that had fallen further than expected as a possible "Antonie Bethea type steal".