His name is one part God, one part the devil, and he’s built a reputation as one of the most disruptive defensive backs in college football. Will Virginia Tech safety Divine Deablo be a heavenly selection for a team in the 2021 NFL Draft while creating hell for opposing offenses?
Divine Deablo NFL Draft Player Profile
- Position: Safety
- School: Virginia Tech
- Current Year: Senior
- Height: 6’3 3/8″
- Weight: 226 pounds
- Wingspan: 79 1/8″
- Arms: 32 3/4″
- Hands: 9 1/2″
Tony Pauline’s Divine Deablo Scouting Report
Positives: Linebacker-sized safety who flashes dominance. Disciplined, quickly diagnoses plays and stays with assignments. Breaks down well, effectively uses his hands, and works hard defending the run. Fires up the field, lays it on the line, and is forceful on the blitz.
Effective in coverage when facing the action, tracks the ball in the air, and has a nice move to the throw. Patient and plays within the system. Quarterbacks the secondary and displays a good head for the ball.
Negatives: Possesses an average closing burst. Stiff pedaling in reverse and slow flipping his hips in transition. Lacks great lateral speed. Did not stand out during Senior Bowl practices.
Analysis: Deablo’s size and speed are off the charts for a defensive back, and he flashed skill the past two years. He’s more of a downhill/between-the-numbers type of defensive back who projects as a conventional strong safety, and he may even get looks at linebacker.
Divine Deablo Player Profile
Although he heads to the NFL Draft as a safety prospect, Virginia Tech’s Divine Deablo started his football career as a wide receiver. The Winston-Salem native was a big-play threat for Mount Tabor High School. As a junior, he racked up over 700 receiving yards at an impressive 18 yards per catch.
The following season, he earned All-Northwest Conference honors after securing 10 touchdowns. Once again demonstrating his big-play ability, he averaged over 21 yards per catch.
A three-star recruit and the 16th-ranked player in North Carolina, Deablo received over 15 college offers. Wake Forest offered him the opportunity to stay close to home while powerhouses like Clemson and Ohio State also tried to secure his services. For the longest part of his recruitment, analysts believed he would commit to North Carolina.
However, following a visit to Frank Beamer BBQ, he committed to Virginia Tech and never wavered. At the time, he commented that the Hokies coaches made him feel like the best receiver in the world.
Divine Deablo’s college football career at Virginia Tech
Despite his transition to an NFL Draft safety prospect, it was never in the original plan for Divine Deablo or Virginia Tech. This wasn’t a high-school-wide-receiver-recruited-to-play-defensive-back story. The Hokies wanted him to play receiver, and he made his first career reception against East Carolina as a freshman in 2016.
Although the young receiver didn’t light up the box score, he made valuable special-teams contributions in 14 games. In a contest against Pittsburgh, he logged 2 tackles and forced a fumble on special teams, which caught the eyes of fans and analysts.
His swap to safety came ahead of his sophomore season, and he embraced it. Through four games, he registered 8 tackles and showcased his ball skills with 3 pass breakups. In the fourth game of the season, he’d suffer the ecstasy and agony of football within a short space of each other. Although he secured his first career interception against Old Dominion, he suffered a season-ending injury.
Granted a medical redshirt, he bounced back in 2018. Deablo logged 14 tackles, 1 tackle for loss, 1 pass breakup, and a fumble recovery. As a testament to his continued strength on special teams, Virginia Tech granted the number 25 jersey to Deablo — a tradition started to honor former head coach Frank Beamer’s commitment to special-teams excellence.
Divine Deablo’s emergence as an NFL Draft prospect
Divine Deablo came into his own as an NFL Draft prospect over his final two seasons in Blacksburg. He started every game in 2019, finishing second on the team with 84 tackles. He secured a second career interception in a standout game against Notre Dame while taking a fumble return 98 yards for a touchdown. His heroics earned him ACC Defensive Back of the Week.
As a senior in 2020, he elevated his game once again, earning first-team All-ACC honors. In the shortened campaign, he demonstrated his ability to be a ball-hawk in the secondary with interceptions against Clemson, Virginia, Louisville, and NC State. Following the season, Divine Deablo declared for the 2021 NFL Draft.
His performances in his senior season attracted the attention of the team at the Reese’s Senior Bowl. The Virginia Tech safety impressed both on the scales and the field, particularly during one-on-one drills. He also produced plays in the game that will help build his NFL Draft stock.
Divine Deablo’s best fits in the 2021 NFL Draft
Virginia Tech safety Divine Deablo offers versatility and experience as a 2021 NFL Draft prospect. He was used in multiple ways during his college career and has demonstrated his coverage ability and physicality as a tackler. With more consistency, he could carve out a starting role in the NFL.
Additionally, his ability to excel on special teams means he can contribute immediately to a franchise and help him secure a roster spot early.
Teams with a need at the safety position include the Dallas Cowboys, Las Vegas Raiders, and Cleveland Browns. He also has the potential to be used as a safety/linebacker hybrid. Therefore, don’t rule out a team like the New England Patriots as a potential landing spot.
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Oliver Hodgkinson is a staff writer for Pro Football Network. You can follow him on Twitter at @ojhodgkinson.