Paris Ford - Safety, Pittsburgh
By the numbers:
6'0", 190 pounds.
2020: Seven games played, 30 solo tackles (3.5 for loss), three passes broken up, three interceptions. Played in Pittsburgh's first seven games, then opted out.
First and foremost, Paris Ford is a fearless player. He's instinctive and processes quickly, which allows him to be extremely aggressive in just about everything he does on the field. That aggressiveness shows up in the form of blown-up plays in the backfield, passes broken up, interceptions or big hits in the open field. For a 190-pound safety, Ford plays much bigger than that.
Ford possesses good ball skills and seems to have a nose for the football. He flies all around the field with relative ease and decisiveness. These traits make him playable in deep zones, in the slot or in the box as needed. Ford can do a little bit of everything and has the playmaking chops to match.
Ford's 2019 tape created some questions about him being able to play deep, but those concerns were alleviated for the most part after his 2020 season. He held his own in those situations and while he's undoubtedly at his best with the play in front of him, Ford is fluid in coverage and flips his hips quickly when necessary.
Ford's aforementioned aggressiveness can come back to bite him at times. He's susceptible to taking poor angles to the ballcarrier and can overcommit in pursuit. His tackling technique, while generally effective and conducive to highlight plays, could use some refinement. Playing fast is a clear plus in the NFL, but tempo can't come at the cost of precision.
The more time Ford spends closer to the line of scrimmage at the next level, the more he will need to add weight. Bulking up by 10 or even 15 pounds — without losing his plus athleticism — would go a long way towards making him a more well-rounded player.
How Ford fits with the Chiefs:
With Tyrann Mathieu and Juan Thornhill firmly entrenched as the Chiefs' two starting safeties in 2021, the need for Ford isn't great. With that said, if Daniel Sorensen signs elsewhere in free agency, having a replacement already on deck would be nice. Ford's versatility, IQ, athletic profile and aggressiveness would be welcomed additions to a Chiefs defense that is big on fitting different sub-packages and formations.
Being a third safety to start his career could do wonders for Ford's development. He doesn't have many holes in his game and brings a lot to the table as a do-it-all weapon. Not only would adding him into the fold replace Sorensen, but it would also allow Steve Spagnuolo to do more with his defense. The need for Ford isn't pressing, but he grades out as a clear top-75 player with possible second-round value for the right team.
March 29 update: After a very alarming performance at Pittsburgh's pro day, Ford's stock is steadily declining. Despite that, his tape remains impressive enough to not cause too much change here. He now receives an adjusted late third-round grade.