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2021 NFL Draft Prospect Interview: Divine Deablo, SAF, Virginia Tech

Could Simmons be the perfect hybrid safety for the Colts?

NCAA Football: Virginia Tech at Notre Dame Matt Cashore-USA TODAY Sports

A fan-favorite series is coming back to the site as it is officially prospect interview season. For anybody new to the site or for people who need a reminder, every draft season I sit down with prospects that are going to be in the upcoming NFL Draft to talk with them about their off-field accomplishments and some film aspects on the field. While I don’t always talk to star players, I have been able to talk to a few players who eventually ended up with the Colts such as Khari Willis, Marvell Tell III, and Rock Ya-Sin.

Our next prospect interview is with Virginia Tech safety Divine Deablo. We had a great conversation about his status as a leader for the Hokies, his adjustment to a new role on defense, and his ability as a playmaker wherever he lines up.


Background

Height: 6’3”

Weight: 226 pounds

Arm Length: 32.68”

Wingspan: 79.18”

Class: Senior

Deablo is a former four-star recruit out of Mount Tabor High School in Winston-Salem, North Carolina. He came into Virginia Tech as a wide receiver but transitioned over to defense after his freshman season. After a bit of a slow transition to that side of the ball, he quickly earned the respect of his teammates, becoming a Team Captain and wearing the famous Beamer #25 for a school-record five times.

He finished his career with 206 tackles, 12.5 tackles for a loss, 0.5 sacks, 11 pass deflections, 6 interceptions, and 3 forced fumbles. He was honored as a First Team All-ACC selection after his dominant senior season. He was also selected for the 2021 Reese’s Senior Bowl this past January.

ZH: I saw that initially went to Virginia Tech to pay wide receiver. How was that transition over to the defense for you?

DD: It was actually a rough transition because before then, I hadn’t played defense at all. I was a quarterback and receiver in high school. The transition was rough but these last three years, I was just focused on improving every day. I still think I have a long way to go. I haven’t reached my ceiling yet so that’s exciting.

ZH: You were able to wear the coveted Beamer #25 jersey quite a few times in your Hokie career. What did that honor mean to you, considering how big of a deal it is at Virginia Tech?

DD: It meant a lot to me. You have to play special teams to get it so, I made sure I was on at least two special teams at all times. I wanted to set the record for having 25 the most times and keep that record forever. I do have the record currently at five times now so hopefully, I can keep that for a while.

ZH: I know you said that transition was tough for you but that all led to something great this past year when you were named a First Team All-ACC player. What did that mean to you considering all the work you had to put in?

DD: It was big to me because it was frustrating not getting any recognition (in prior seasons), not even Honorable Mentions. This past year I wanted to at least make... Of course First Team but I just wanted to make one of the teams. That ended up working out for me and it was a huge honor.


Versatility

ZH: VT liked to use you all over the place in your career. Where do you think is your best fit in the NFL?

DD: I felt comfortable anywhere. I would say the easiest was in the box but I felt a bit limited down there. I feel like in the NFL they can just move me around and I can do a lot of things. I think that is one of the big things I bring to a team.

ZH: With your size, teams are going to look at you and think of a “tight end eraser” type. Do you feel like that can be a specialized role you could excel at in the NFL?

DD: Yessir I do think I can guard them at an elite level. I played over the slot a lot in my college career so, I was running around with the small guys. Tight ends are bigger of course but they are a bit slower so, I think I match up well.


Film Study

ZH: I’ve talked to a few hybrid-type guys like you who said they would watch film with multiple position groups throughout the week. What is your lead-up to gameday like as a hybrid? What are you focusing on?

DD: I’m usually with the safeties. Fortunately this past year, our safeties coach was also the Defensive Coordinator. Working with him really helped me out a lot. I watch tons of film on my own though, at least four or five games in preparation for the team we are playing that week. I just look for the small things like what they like to put on first down vs third down, quarterback eyes— what he looks at pre and post-snap, who the favorite receivers are, and even focus on just the tight ends and receivers. I just love watching film and I’m always in the film room (laughs). I like to also know what every player on our defense is doing too, especially in the back seven. That way I always know what they are doing and I can help out in certain situations if need be.


Talking some Kam Chancellor

ZH: I feel like I already know who you are going to say, judging by the fact that you are a Virginia Tech safety wearing number 17, but who do you model your game after?

DD: (Laughs) Yeah you are correct when you say that. Kam Chancellor. I look up to him actually. He has hit me up a couple of times on social media, a very nice dude. I haven’t met him yet but hopefully, I’ll meet him one day. He is the type of guy that impacts everything on defense. I’m working on getting up to his level but he’s a stud.


NFL Outlook

ZH: What is my team getting when they spend a draft pick on Devine Deablo?

DD: You are getting a team-first guy. A lot of guys will say that, but I think I’m the ultimate team-first guy. I’m pretty unselfish, and I know that team success comes before my own. I’m big on seeing my teammates succeed and I’d do anything to help the team. If that means playing on all four special teams and starting on defense, that’s what I’ll do. Whatever we need to do to win, I’ll do that at the end of the day.


Final Thoughts

Personally, it was a lot of fun talking ball with Divine, especially since I am a huge Virginia Tech fan. I think he has a solid set role in the NFL and it is at a position that the Colts are taking a hard look at in this draft. Divine could fit that hybrid safety/linebacker role that Indy feels like they need on this defense.

Overall Divine should be an early to mid day three pick that fits a lot of what Chris Ballard likes. He was a Senior Bowl guy, Team Captain, productive, and he has that positional versatility. I would say keep an eye on this playmaker on day three of the NFL Draft.