It isn't often that you see a strong safety lead a team in passes broken up (nine) and interceptions (four), but that is precisely what Searcy accomplished for the Tar Heels in 2010 despite the fact that he missed a quarter of the season due to an NCAA investigation.
An instinctive player with good overall athleticism, Searcy's quick feet and fluidity could make him a free safety in the pros if he answers questions about his deep speed in workouts.
Positives: Possesses a squatty, muscular frame. Good instincts for the position. Reads the quarterback and shows a good burst to close. Surprisingly quick feet and fluidity for strong safety. Demonstrated the agility to stick with tight ends and even cover slot receivers in a pinch while at the Senior Bowl. Served as the team's primary punt returner the past two seasons -- quite an accomplishment considering the number of athletes on this roster. Reliable open-field tackler. Breaks down well and wraps his arms securely. Takes good angles in pursuit. Good hand-eye coordination. Can get his hands inside the receiver's catch radius to slap away the reception. Showed good ball skills with four interceptions in 2010.
Negatives: May be a bit of a 'tweener. Questionable range to handle the conversion to free safety and isn't the big, physical safety most teams are looking for in a classic strong safety. Gets the ballcarrier to the ground, but isn't an intimidating hitter."
Positive: Developing safety with a nice combination of size and athleticism. Displays good range to the sidelines, quickly breaks to passes, and possesses good ball skills. Shows awareness facing the action, fights hard to defend throws, and has a burst of recovery speed. Hard hitting, quick up the field, and squares into opponents. Flashes on the scene, stays with assignments, and possesses solid instincts.
Negative: Falls asleep and struggles in zone coverage. Is not a stout run defender despite his size.
Analysis: Since moving into the starting lineup at North Carolina two years ago, Searcy has continued to develop on the field and has the skills to be used as a center fielder or zone safety. He needs additional work on his game to smooth the rough edges yet comes with starting potential."
Negatives: Speed is average at best... Missed the first three games of 2010 due to NCAA rules violations... Plays a little stiff in coverage, does not have very fluid hips or quick feet... Not a solid cover safety, has decent ball skills, but needs to improve on change-of-direction skills... Range is marginal, is much more of a deep-half safety in coverage."
As a true freshman at UNC in the fall of 2007, DaNorris played in all 12 games primarily on special teams. He also saw action in eight games as a reserve safety and finished the season with nine total tackles.
In 2008, he played again mostly on special teams and as a reserve safety, but started the Meineke Car Care Bowl vs. West Virginia and had a career-high 10 tackles and two sacks. He appeared in all 13 games and tallied 25 tackles, two sacks and three pass breakups.
In 2009, he moved into the starting safety spot and also served as Carolina's starting punt returner. He ranked second in the ACC and fifth in the country in punt returns, averaging 14.6 yards per attempt. Searcy also finished the season with 35 tackles and had one interception and three pass breakups. He was also used sparingly as a kickoff returner, averaging 23.1 yards on 7 tries.
In 2010, he started 10 games and tallied 37 total tackles, 2 TFLs, 4 interceptions, and 4 other PBUs.
Strengths: Reliable, hard-working safety with hands for the pick. Has gotten better each year, and takes the game and prep work seriously. Coachable. Good citizen and teammate. Has some kick return ability.
Weaknesses: Not very big for a safety and not very fluid for a look at corner. Average overall athleticism. Will struggle on an island in coverage, and will have trouble bringing down big ball carriers in run defense.
Projection: 7th or priority UDFA."
DaNorris Searcy brings a very fascinating combination of skills to the table:
Tremendous Diagnostic Skills.
Outstanding Processing Speed.
Excellent Verticity ~ Turn + Burn.
He's a sure, solid Tackler, a Quick, savvy Coverer, and a Ball Hawk.
He's a definite Free Safety candidate, as well. His bulk speaks to remaining at Strong Safety, and his Long Speed is only average, but everything else suggests Free Safety. Clearly, he's a candidate to play either position, or even Rover, where he has some experience.
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