Impression: A big athlete who has the skill set to at least intrigue at the strong safety position, but is mostly just an intriguing developmental/free agent type prospect."
Hines bided his time on special teams units as a true freshman, his career starting five games late due to questions about his eligibility, before earning more playing time as a safety/linebacker hybrid in 2008 (31 tackles, two for loss, and three pass breakups) and 2009 (57 tackles, 3.5 for loss, and two interceptions) -- when he unseated veteran Anderson Russell for a stretch. And though his 2010 stats weren't eye-popping as the starting free safety (66 tackles, two for loss, one interception, four pass breakups), Big Ten coaches voted first-team all-conference.
On the hoof, Hines looks like an NFL starting strong safety but his speed and agility allowed him to play centerfielder as a senior. His relative lack of big plays may prevent him from being a really high pick, but his size, speed and athleticism could make a team believe he will be a real bargain in the third or fourth round.
Positives: Prototypical strong safety build but has the speed and agility to play in two-deep and man-free. Very strong attacking plays in front of him in coverage or in run support. Lays out receivers over the middle, but can also use his length to wrap up. Good agility to stay with out-routes run by tight ends and slot receiver. Knocks away passes from behind with closing speed and long arms--without interfering. Also separates the ball from the receiver with strong hands and powerful hits. Avoids receiver and lineman blocks using his hands and quickness.
Negatives: Smaller NFL receivers will challenge his short-area quickness in coverage. Runs around blocks in space, fails to get off them when engaged. Freelances when sniffing out quick screens, can be fooled by misdirection. Needs to wrap consistently instead of lowering his shoulder against bigger receivers and tight ends. Turned 23 in November 2010."
Positive: Forceful, run defending safety who plays best in a straight line. Aggressive in all aspects of the game, defeats blocks up the field, and makes plays on the ball carrier. Can be a devastating hitter and an intimidating force. Solid open field tackler. Displays a burst of closing and recovery speed. Effectively pursues the action from all angles.
Negative: Marginal ball skills. Struggles to quickly change direction and loses transitioning to run with opponents. Inefficient and often gets caught out of position.
Analysis: Hines is a developmental prospect who's shown solid progress in his game the past two seasons. He's best suited as a conventional safety and offers potential in a zone system if he improves his play in coverage."
Negatives: Did not have a great statistical career at Ohio State, only recorded 159 tackles and three interceptions in four years... Needs to work on pursuit angles, not a great downfield tackler when the play gets behind him... Will get out of position by biting on play action and double moves, is a little too aggressive in attempting to stop the run... Not great at getting off blocks from bigger blockers when playing in the box... Not much of a man-to-man safety, will have difficulty lining up with quicker slot receivers in the NFL."
2009 (Junior): starter at free safety … fourth on the squad with 57 tackles for the campaign … 7-yard sack against Navy … five tackles vs. USC … four tackles vs. Toledo in Cleveland … 16-yard interception in the win over Illinois … five tackles at Indiana … 32-yard interception return for touchdown in the win over Wisconsin … also had a career-best 11 tackles vs. the Badgers … seven tackles, PBU at Purdue … four tackles in Minnesota win … three tackles vs. New Mexico State … pair of stops at Penn State … nine tackles, two TFL in win at Michigan … Attack Force award: Illinois … third-year letterwinner
2008 (Sophomore): gained an increased role at safety … 31 tackles for the year … recovered a Youngstown State fumble … first career start vs. Troy … seven tackles against Troy … three tackles in wins over Minnesota and Purdue … returned a Michigan State fumble 48 yards for a touchdown … four tackles and a TFL against Penn State … six tackles at Northwestern … second-year letterman
2007 (Freshman): true freshman defender who was productive on special teams from the midseason point … played on two special units … first-year letterman
High School: rated the No. 16 outside linebacker prospect in the nation and the No. 6 overall recruit in the state … started at quarterback and linebacker for Glenville his junior year … team’s defensive MVP … ran for 800 yards as a senior and threw for 750 and nine touchdowns … first-team all-district as a senior … recorded 97 tackles as a junior along with eight sacks and four interceptions … honorable mention all-state as a senior … participated in the Offense-Defense All-American Bowl … rushed for 1,000 yards as a sophomore
Personal: son of Bobby and April Hines … has five siblings … uncle Joseph Hines played on Penn State’s 1983 national championship team ... African-American studies major
Strengths: Hines is a versatile player who has experience at SS, FS, and CB for the Buckeyes. As a SS, he excels as an in-the-box run defender. He's a powerful player who can take on the blockers and bring down the back. He has the size and bulk to stand up to NFL punishment. He possesses enough coverage ability and a good plant-and-drive to make plays in the passing game as well. Versatility in the defensive backfield, as well as special teams experience is a plus.
Weaknesses: Doesn't have blazing speed and will struggle in man coverage at the next level. His lack of coverage ability really pigeon-holes him into the SS position despite his experience at other positions. Inconsistent concentration at times. Occasionally looks like he has no idea what is happening on the field and will disappear for stretches. Not enough splash plays.
Projection: Hines could get a look late in the 2011 NFL Draft as a SS prospect who will have to make his bones on special teams to start with. Wasn't nearly as good a collegiate SS as former teammate Kurt Coleman, who went in the 7th round of the 2010 NFL Draft (although he did end up as a productive starter in his rookie year)."
Hines is most comfortable on first downs, coming down in run support and playing behind the linebackers to make big hits and clean up any ball-carriers that may come his way. For a free safety, he has the right size and frame.
Where he needs to continue to improve is his ability to read and react in zone coverages. Ohio State's defensive system runs a lot of simple zone coverages where Hines will cover a deep half. This is typically a double coverage. In man-to-man coverage, Hines can be beaten. He plays very stiff in the hips and plays with poor technique. While his speed is decent, he can be beat deep.
In the NFL, they use a lot of Cover 1 defense, this means a defender plays toward the middle of the field and must cover the deep zone from sideline to sideline. Hines is simply not quick enough nor has the burst to do this effectively. This could be a deal-breaker for some teams.
Jermale Hines currently projects as a sixth round prospect for the 2011 NFL Draft."
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