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NFL Draft Profiles: Virginia Cavaliers Safety Quin Blanding

NCAA Football: Virginia at Pittsburgh Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

Virginia Cavaliers players Quin Blanding and Andrew Brown will forever be linked in the minds of UVA Football fans—they were the two 5-star guys who committed to play for Mike London. In all likelihood, they kept London employed for an extra year or two because of the promise they provided.

Blanding had a far better college career than Brown did, including starting every game of his college career. He leaves Virginia as the all-time leading tackler in school history, with 495 tackles. He’s sixth all-time in ACC history in tackles, and is the top among DBs.

That production is what’s driving his NFL future. Blanding did not perform very well at the NFL Combine, running just a 4.63 in the 40 (he injured his hamstring during his second attempt). He measured 6’2” 207, which is good size for an NFL safety. Because of the hamstring injury, Blanding didn’t do any other events at the Combine. He participated in position drills at UVA’s Pro Day, but didn’t run or do any other events.

Blanding is a tackling machine. That is obvious. He tackles well both in space and in a crowd.

He can deliver a big hit:

Or he can wrap up and make the solid tackle:

The knock on Blanding is that, due to his lack of foot speed, he could struggle in coverage. But his instincts are so good, he always seems to be in the right place. In the play below, Blanding is coming across the formation before the ball is even snapped. He ends up making a TFL 40 yards from where he started out.

And he has outstanding hands. Check out a couple of his INTs here. There are NFL safeties who can’t even make these plays.

Good hands and great instincts. That’s how a guy considered a poor coverage safety can come up with 10 INTs over his career.

Blanding is going to fit best on a team that runs a lot of cover-2. He hasn’t really exhibited any prowess for playing man coverage on the league’s better TEs, and he probably isn’t quick enough to play centerfield in a Cover-1. He’s a tremendous in-the-box safety and will also be an immediate asset on special teams.

Blanding is projected to go somewhere between the fourth and sixth round. Let’s split the difference and guess that he goes mid-fifth round.