Following a standout performance in the 2009 Orange Bowl, Kam Chancellor's stock in the NFL draft was as high as it had ever been. His mammoth size combined with NFL-ready speed for a safety made him a likely second or third-round pick in the 2009 draft.
Instead, Chancellor elected to return to school for his senior season in an effort to maybe slide into the first round. The season could not have gone worse. Thankfully, there is still hope for the second team all-ACC performer.
It started in the Alabama game, where Marquis Maze and the rest of the Crimson Tide receiving corps toasted Chancellor in a 34-24 Tide victory. A few weeks later, Nebraska also found open receivers behind Chancellor on several occasions. It took nearly two-thirds of the season before deep passes against the Hokies was something to expect. Although that size was seen as something in his favor going into the NFL, it was exploited at the college level against smaller, slot receivers.
That being said, Chancellor will get no part of playing free safety at the next level. He will purely be a strong safety in a system that implores a cover 1/cover 3 system., namely teams which play in a run-happy division. Teams in the NFL now have used their safeties interchangeably in coverage and in run support, but Chancellor is so far behind as a man-to-man cover player that he won't fit in such a system.
One of the biggest assets to Chancellor's stock is the fact that he played three different positions at Tech. As a freshman, he played field corner and was used mostly in nickel packages. He was then a rover his sophomore season as D.J. Parker occupied the free safety spot. Once Parker graduated, he moved to free safety to make room for Dorian Porch to play rover.
Although he struggled late in his career in pass coverage, he has a basic knowledge of many different types of pass coverage. Add that with the fact that Bud Foster's defensive scheme is one of the most complex in the country makes Chancellor a valuable commodity in the middle rounds.
His lowest recorded 40-yard dash time is 4.47, but at the combine he will be expected to run in the high 4.5/low 4.6 range. That is a good time for a strong safety, and won't hurt his stock any more.
His bench press reps will be huge for his status, however. If he can put up 225 lbs. between 25-30 times or more, it will create a buzz for his strength against the run. Several teams could look at Chancellor as a project for outside linebacker. Right now, he is undersized at 230 lbs., but if he adds 20 to 35 lbs. he can move down into the second level of the defense, in time.
Chancellor has a great personality and outstanding character, and should interview well with front office management at the combine and in his individual workouts.
The thing to watch with Chancellor is how he performs in the coverage drills for defensive backs. He will have to show great feet and quick breaks to keep himself in the fourth round area. It's unlikely he'll go any higher than the third round, but any time after that is fair game.
Teams most likely to select him include: Atlanta Falcons, Houston Texans, Cleveland Browns, New York Giants, Washington Redskins, Jacksonville Jaguars, Oakland Raiders