The Scouting Academy Looks At Sideline To Sideline Range

By Will Cinelli on Oct 15, 2020

By Will Cinelli, The Scouting Academy

On most Thursdays FirstDown PlayBook brings you a special treat here on the Coaches Community website. We feature a breakdown of personnel and technique provided by our friends over at The Scouting Academy who are our go to experts in this field.

One of the most important traits to play safety at a high level is range. Simply defined, range is the ability to play a deep safety and from the middle of the field, defend passes toward the sideline.

In this clip, Jessie Bates III is playing a middle-of-field safety. The Jags are going to throw a sideline vertical here, which one would not expect someone in Bates’s position to make a play on. But Bates shows tremendous range on this play.

First, he shows good mental processing to give himself a head start. Gardner Minshew commits a mental mistake and stares down his receiver the entire time. But credit Bates for taking advantage of this. Once he identifies that Minshew is going outside with the ball, he plants and drives aggressively in that direction.

After the ball is in the air, it’s all about closing speed. As you can see in the video, Bates is still well inside the numbers when Minshew releases the ball. But Bates throws on the afterburners and gets to the vertical route that’s only a yard or two from the sideline.

When he gets to the receiver, Bates does a great job being physical and jarring the ball loose. It’s a play like this that saves a touchdown and can completely save a game. Additionally, knowing they have this type of security blanket over the top, the corners and the defensive coordinator can all feel a little freer to be more aggressive and take a few more chances. 

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