MOBILE, Ala. — A player knows he is onto something when he flips on an old tape to get some pointers from a relative and the voice of Vince Lombardi is clearly audible.
Such is the case with Nasir Adderley from Delaware, one of the top safeties at the Senior Bowl, one of the top safeties NFL teams will mull heading into the NFL draft. The Giants will be in the market to add a safety to a roster that is lacking at that position, and they could do a whole lot worse than to consider Adderley, who boasts some impressive football lineage.
A cousin of Adderley’s grandfather is Herb Adderley, a member of the Pro Football Hall of Fame. That Herb played the same position as Nasir makes this bond stronger.
“He was one of the greatest to ever do it,” Nasir Adderley said. “I’m so very thankful to have him in my corner. I talk to him all the time. He’s been a tremendous influence on my career, very supportive.”
Herb Adderley is now 79 and owns quite a decorated résumé. He is the only player to participate in four of the first six Super Bowls. A first-round pick of the Packers in 1961, Herb Adderley played halfback before his coach, the great Lombardi, realized with Paul Hornung and Jim Taylor in the offensive backfield there was no room for one more. Lombardi switched Herb Adderley to safety and a star was born. After nine years in Green Bay, Adderley was traded to Dallas and was a key cog in the Cowboys’ Doomsday Defense.
Nasir says he speaks often with his heralded relative and what he saw on those old tapes floored him.
“Oh man, he did it all,” Nasir said. “He was a physical tackler, athletic, great plays on the ball and he was versatile. He definitely was one of the greatest to ever do it.’’
A well-proportioned 6-foot, 200-pound free safety, Adderley is among the top draft-eligible players at his position, along with Deionte Thompson of Alabama, Taylor Rapp of Washington and Chauncy Gardner-Johnson of Florida. The Giants are in flux at safety. Landon Collins, the fixture strong safety, is set to become an unrestricted free agent and is coming off shoulder surgery. The Giants are expected to keep him, either with a multi-year contract or else with the franchise tag. Collins has never lined up on the back end of the defense with a young and talented free safety. After seeing Curtis Riley take strange and unusual angles to the ball this season, the Giants need to re-sign Collins and find him a suitable running mate.
Adderley could go as high as the second round, which is rarefied air for a player from Delaware.
As a junior in high school in Philadelphia, Adderley’s grades were lacking and scared off several FCS schools.
“That was on me,’’ Adderley said. “I had an interesting recruiting process. I struggled academically, I was young, immature, and didn’t understand the importance of academics. I got a rude wake-up call.”
His grades improved as a senior and he received an offer from Delaware, an FBS school. After he committed to Delaware, Wake Forest and Syracuse showed some interest, but it was too late.
“It was a frustrating time for me,’’ he said. “My mom sat down with me and told me ‘This is what happens when you don’t do what you are supposed to do.’ I learned my lesson, for sure.”
Adderley made the most of his time amid the brick buildings and green lawns of the Delaware campus. He played in 41 games and had 10 interceptions. Competing all week at the Senior Bowl, Adderley does not view himself as a small-school player hoping to hang with the players from the bigger schools.
“I don’t look at it that way,” he said. “Coming from where I come from it’s a lot of questions I’m getting, do I have a chip on my shoulder. I mean, I’m confident in my ability, I know if I do what I’m supposed to do and focus on the little things, the coaching and the technique, I think I’ll be just fine.”
Adderley was just fine during Wednesday’s Senior Bowl practice, as he intercepted quarterback Daniel Jones of Duke. He played on all the special teams units at Delaware and expects to do the same for whichever NFL team takes him. Earl Thomas is the NFL safety he tries to emulate and, of course, his family connection with Herb Adderley is a valued link.
“It was way different, the way you could tackle, it was a way different game back in the day,” Nasir Adderley said.
The rules are now slanted in favor of the receivers and Nasir Adderley is anxious to see where he fits.
“Anybody that drafts me it will be just be a blessing, all the hard work over the years,’’ he said. “It would be nice to see it manifest.”