Calen Bullock’s Draft Profile | USC, S Scouting Report

Calen Bullock needs to improve in support, but his 2024 NFL Draft scouting report tells of near-unmatched playmaking and coverage upside.

A playmaker in every sense of the word, where does USC safety Calen Bullock rank in the polarizing 2024 NFL Draft safety class? Can he sustain his production on the ball at the NFL level, and are his issues in the support phase correctable? Let’s find out.

Calen Bullock’s Draft Profile and Measurements

  • Height: 6’2″
  • Weight: 188 pounds
  • Length: 32 1/2″
  • Wingspan: 78 1/8″
  • Hand: 9″
  • Position: Safety
  • School: USC
  • Current year: Junior

For some prospects, their archetypal profile is clear on the surface. Bullock is one of those prospects.

A four-star recruit from Pasadena, California, Bullock joined the Trojans as a highly-touted talent in 2021. As a true freshman, he immediately showed promise, accounting for 40 tackles, two interceptions, and three pass breakups in his first collegiate season.

MORE: Top Safeties in the 2024 NFL Draft

In 2022, Bullock led all Pac-12 defenders with five picks, and he again racked up impressive ball production in 2023, with two INTs and seven pass deflections.

The production in the air contrasted with a lack of production behind the line of scrimmage — but Bullock’s potential was very evident. That potential was reaffirmed at the NFL Combine, where he ran a 4.48 40-yard dash at 6’2″. Later, at his pro day, he logged a 33″ vertical and a 10′ broad jump.

Bullock, who’ll be barely 21 years old by the end of the 2024 NFL Draft, is one of the youngest players in the class and one of the highest-upside safety prospects present. But how does he project with his composite profile? What are the risks, and what are the potential returns?

Bullock’s Scouting Report

Strengths

  • Elastic, explosive long-strider with elite center-fielder range and disruptive reach.
  • Possesses the speed and bend to pick up motion receivers and carry them vertically.
  • Can chew up ground with his long strides when clicking and closing on quick out routes.
  • Has the swivel freedom to realign his tracking path while keeping speed in single-high.
  • Fluid hips enable him to seamlessly adjust his positioning as route concepts progress.
  • Has smooth pedal footwork when monitoring overlapping routes and keeping leverage.
  • Can square up WRs at stems, then turn and run vertically, using speed to stick to hips.
  • Anticipates vertical crossers well, and can erase gaps with his swarming long speed.
  • Can use shuffle-steps to maintain hip alignment and keep WRs within his frame.
  • Manages route spacing well in zone, and has the blind spot awareness to wall off WRs.
  • Understands when to pass off WRs and when to flip hips and reposition against stacks.
  • Flashes good patience, discipline, and recovery against jab-steps and foot-fire releases.
  • Instinctive playmaking threat who can track and high-point passes in the deep third.
  • Triggers quickly on horizontal RAC threats and can cut off angles with his pursuit speed.
  • Able to square up gaps in support and launch into tackles leading with his shoulder.

Weaknesses

  • Can be late to process option exchanges, at times drifting too far upfield pre-diagnosis.
  • Is routinely late to adapt to play direction after counter and option exchanges.
  • Can lose track of the ball when patrolling congestion, which can impact gap discipline.
  • Sometimes idles his feet overtop stems in off-man coverage, which can delay drives.
  • Can be over-reliant on physicality in man coverage, and can better use feet first.
  • Initial pursuit angles in support are too narrow at times, allowing space outside.
  • Is prone to hesitation when faced with blockers in open field, giving up positioning.
  • Hesitation can allow runners more time to regain momentum and disrupt angles.
  • Doesn’t have the mass or play strength to consistently halt runners as a solo tackler.
  • Sometimes merely surges into tackles without properly using his length to wrap up.
  • Lighter frame limits his ability at times to deconstruct blocks and enter pursuit.

Current Draft Projection and Summary

Bullock grades out as a fringe top-100 prospect in the 2024 NFL Draft. With his athletic profile, there’s a fairly good chance he goes on Day 2. In that range, he’d provide the best value in the mid-to-late Day 2 range for teams that value deep safeties with single-high capabilities.

The prime appeal with Bullock is clear: He has rare upside as a single-high playmaker and deep coverage safety. He brings elite center-fielder range with his explosiveness and long-strider speed, and he has the ball-tracking ability and ball skills to hawk over ill-fated touch and drive throws.

Beyond his playmaking range, Bullock is also a surprisingly fluid cover man for his size and is relatively technically sound for his age in both man and zone. He can manage space and adjust his hip leverage in space, and he has the twitch, foot speed, and plant-and-drive ability to play off-man.

Coverage is where Bullock makes his money. He’s rangy, versatile, instinctive, fluid, and a top-flight playmaking presence. But there’s no mincing words about Bullock’s support ability: He’s a major work in progress.

While he can levy hard hits on occasion with his momentum generation, Bullock struggles with play recognition and misdirection reads, can take faulty angles, has inconsistent tackling form, and lacks much in the way of play strength.

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Bullock’s poor support projection is the biggest complicating factor for his stock. As he currently exists, Bullock wouldn’t provide much security as a support threat on Day 1, and while he can erase big plays in coverage, his inconsistent tackling ability makes him precarious to rely on in RAC defense.

There is a silver lining with Bullock, which is ironically also his frame. While he’s lighter, he has a long reach and room to fill out a bit more in terms of mass. If he can get closer to the 195-pound range, he might be able to survive more easily versus NFL physicality, while also keeping the athleticism that makes him special in coverage.

In schemes where he can rotate between single-high and two-high, while also providing off-man nickel chops on occasion, Bullock has the upside to be a quality starter with a particular specialization in coverage and turnover generation — but that upside may come at the cost of support utility.

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