The safety position in the NFL is in a constant state of flux relative to its value — especially as more teams look for hybrid-type players. It wasn’t long ago we saw Jamal Adams get traded for first-round picks, despite being extremely limited in coverage and relegated to playing in the box. Yet, a true ball hawk who can line up across a secondary can turn a defense around.
Kaevon Merriweather is hoping to hear his name called in the 2023 NFL Draft. He may have to wait a while, he may not hear his name at all. Below is everything you need to know in Merriweather’s scouting report.
Kaevon Merriweather NFL Draft Profile
- Position: Safety
- School: Iowa
- Year: Fifth-Year Senior
In high school, Merriweather was highly decorated. He earned second-team all-conference honors and was Defensive Player of the Year as a junior. He was a two-year letterman at defensive back for both Romulus High School and Belleville High School, where he played as a senior.
At both schools, he helped them advance to the state playoffs. As a senior, he helped Belleville achieve an 11-1 record. There, he recorded 43 solo tackles and seven assists as a senior, with four tackles for loss and one sack.
Heading into his freshman year at Iowa, Merriweather was one of only 12 true freshmen to see the field, and he appeared in nine games. He redshirted as a sophomore after just a few games due to injury. He started that year at free safety against Miami and helped hold them to 59 rushing yards.
In 2020, he saw action in all eight games and made a start at strong safety. In 2021, Merriweather played in 14 games and started seven, really beginning to make a name for himself. He logged 42 tackles, five passes defended, and logged his first career interception. He was given the Coaches Appreciate Award on the defense.
As most college players with NFL dreams hope, he saved his best for last. As a senior, he logged a career-best 47 tackles, 34 of them solo, his first forced fumble, six passes defended, and three interceptions.
That performance earned him second-team All-America by Sporting News and the Associated Press, a second consecutive Coaches Appreciation Award, was named permanent captain of the defense, second-team All-Big 10 by the AP, Big Ten Sportsmanship Award, and finally was one of 20 semifinalists for the Jason Whitten Collegiate Man of the Year Award.
Merriweather is decidedly a leader on and off the field and has the admiration of his teammates and coaches. That is something NFL teams covet as they aim to improve the culture in their locker rooms.
As an athlete, Merriweather scored quite well. According to Relative Athletic Score (RAS), he ranks 156 out of 912 strong safeties measured since 1987. His size is about average for the position, as were his explosion scores.
Where he really stood out was his speed. His 4.62 40-yard dash time was about average, but his 10-yard split was among the best ever for that position. As a strong safety, he played in the box a bunch and required short-area quickness. The 10-yard split is a good indicator of that ability and aided his overall RAS.
Tony Pauline’s Scouting Report for Kaevon Merriweather
Strengths: Nice-sized safety with an efficient game. Instinctive, quickly reads the action, and immediately picks up coverage assignments in center field. Moves well in every direction, gets out to the sidelines to help cornerbacks, and has a closing burst.
Keeps the action in front of him, displays solid range, and tracks the pass in the air. Displays a good move to the throw and works to get a hand in to knock the ball away. Squares and wraps up tackling, giving effort against the run.
Weaknesses: More of a disciplined defender than a playmaking safety. Deep speed is an issue. Was unspectacular during Senior Bowl practices.
Overall: Iowa has produced a number of safeties who went on to have productive careers in the NFL, and Merriweather is next in line. He’s more of a zone defensive back who plays tough, instinctive, reliable football.
Kaevon Merriweather Combine Measurements and Results
- Height: 6’0″
- Weight: 205
- Arm Length: 31 7/8”
- Hand Size: 9 1/4”
- Bench Press: N/A
- 40-Yard Dash: 4.62
Kaevon Merriweather Current Draft Projection
According to Tony Pauline’s Big Board, Merriweather is projected as a sixth-round draft pick. This could be due to positional value. His skill set is not a premier value in the NFL at this time (see: Jamal Adams). His lack of long speed and explosion could be at the heart of why he waits a while to hear his name on draft day.
His intangibles and leadership are unquestioned, and that alone should help him land in the league, as those cannot be taught. If he were to go undrafted, he could be a high-target priority free agent. The limits in his size and explosiveness may outweigh his college résumé for some teams.
When you project as a sixth-round pick, not being selected at all is a real possibility. One team that could target Merriweather as a priority free agent, should he not be drafted at all, is the Kansas City Chiefs. They have signed some veterans at the position during free agency, but that is a perfect locker room for him to join. Andy Reid and Co. value intangibles and leadership on the football field.
There would be no pressure or expectation for him to play right away, and he could develop his skill set. Merriweather’s leadership and hard work could accelerate his learning curve and help him carve out a role as a special teams ace and goal-line contributor.
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