Adams is the top prospect at the 2017 NFL Draft's most loaded position.
In three years with the Tigers, Adams helped continue LSU's legacy of "DBU," standing out immediately and developing into arguably the most well-rounded defensive back in the country. Adams earned first team All-America honors as well as first team All-Southeastern Conference recognition in 2016, recording a career-high 76 tackles, including 7.5 for loss. With Adams leading the charge, LSU allowed just 16 touchdowns over the 2016 season (12 games), lowest in the FBS. This included a 29-9 victory over Louisville and Lamar Jackson in the Citrus Bowl in which the Heisman Trophy winner was kept out of the end zone for the first time all season.
The son of former New York Giants' first round pick George Adams (No. 19 overall, 1985) and a dynamic all-purpose threat in high school, Adams signed with LSU amid great fanfare. He only started two games for the Tigers in 2014 but this is misleading as he was a critical part of LSU's nickel package, seeing action in all 13 games and recording 66 tackles. He played in all 37 games over his career, starting 26 times (including every game the past two seasons), accumulating 209 tackles, 17.5 tackles for loss, five interceptions and two sacks.
Often compared to former LSU great Tyrann Mathieu over his career, Adams possesses a similar combination of instincts, aggression and athleticism but is significantly bigger and does not come with the troubling off-field issues which pushed Mathieu into the third round of the 2013 draft. On the field and off, Adams is one of the cleaner prospects in the 2017 draft, projecting as a possible top 10 pick and future NFL star.
STRENGTHS: Bent at the knees and eagerly inching forward toward the line of scrimmage pre-snap similar to the way centerfielders on the baseball diamond anticipate the ball being hit, Adams shows rare key and diagnosis skills. He is hyper-aggressive in run support, flying upfield and slipping past blockers to provide the Tigers with almost another linebacker at the point of attack. Belying his lack of starting experience, Adams shows impressive awareness to sniff out misdirection and is a terrific open-field tackler. Unlike most defenders with his seemingly reckless, kamikaze style of play, Adams never seems out of control. He plays on the balls of his feet and has the flexible joints to change directions and accelerate fluidly. Already possessing good size for the position, Adams plays even bigger than he looks, offering an explosive pop on contact with most of his stops. Better yet, he is also capable of dropping low to take out the legs of ballcarriers threatening to turn the corner. Put simply, Adams has a large strike zone and he doesn't miss often. Adams is just as instinctive in coverage. His easy athleticism allows him to drop down and play nickel corner, covering slot receivers while keeping his eyes on the quarterback. Adams shows excellent route anticipation, breaking on underneath routes before some of the receivers he's tasked with covering. Quarterbacks rarely challenge him but Adams gets involved in plays anyway by dropping his primary coverage responsibilities once the pass is thrown in a mad (but controlled) dash toward the ball. Good bloodlines. Father, George Adams, was the 19th overall pick (by the New York Giants) of the 1985 NFL draft as a running back out of Kentucky.
WEAKNESSES: Finding relative weaknesses to Adams' game is difficult. He is slightly smaller than scouts would prefer at the position and has been supported by quality cover corners on the outside throughout his time at LSU. He shows great trust in his teammates, sacrificing himself to funnel ballcarriers back inside toward the rest of the defense rather than attempting to make every tackle on his own. In doing this, however, Adams appears to take very risky angles to the ball and can lose sight of it, at times. Often put in a position to "shadow" mobile quarterbacks, Adams can be a tick late in determining whether to rush upfield or drop back into coverage when they slide out of the pocket.
IN OUR VIEW: Adams is the prototype at safety -- the agility of a cornerback and the aggression and instincts of a linebacker. Some will nitpick Adams for interception total -- five over 37 games at LSU -- but this is more a reflection of opponents' fear in testing him. Draft him and forget about the position for the next decade.
COMPARES TO: Landon Collins, New York Giants: Adams is faster -- not quite as big -- than the Giants' young star safety but like Collins, he is an enforcer in the running game with the ballskills to make opponents pay for challenging him.