Agility/Hips: Berry is smooth out his breaks and transitions out his backpedal with ease. Really shows his agility on interception returns. Is a shifty runner, which helps him stick with quick receivers in pass coverage.
Ball Skills: Has natural hands and frequently makes a lot of plays on the ball. Finished his career with 14 interceptions. Nicely secures the ball after making an interception.
Body Control: Keeps good balance when he’s dropping back in coverage. Gets solid position before having to get off the ground to make a play in the air. Doesn’t have the best leaping ability, but gets good hand placement to break up a pass.
Instincts: The recognition skills Berry possesses are as sound as any defender in college football. In zone coverage, Berry’s ability to read a quarterback’s eyes is impressive and perhaps just as good as Troy Polamalu’s. Rarely gets fooled on play-action passes, draws and pump fakes.
Pass Coverage: Can be used in man-to-man and zone equally well. At times, Berry was lined up cornerback throughout his career and managed to hold up fairly well. He is smooth in his backpedal and keeps a manageable cushion.
Pursuit: Berry takes excellent angles toward the ball carrier and closes really fast. He likes to mix it up in the trash, which can sometimes get him in trouble. If a lineman gets his hands on Berry, he doesn’t have the functional strength to disengage.
Run Support: During his junior season, Tennessee used Berry more in the box to stop the run. Although his strength didn’t always allow him to make tackles, he was almost always in on plays. Where he could improve here is in coming in sooner to make a play. Instead, Berry will sometimes wait for a play to come to him. Played sort of a hybrid safety/linebacker position in 2009.
Size: Berry’s size — said by Tennessee to be 5’11 and 203 pounds — is adequate. It’s not impressive, but it’s not a hindrance. He could stand to get a little stronger, but it’s hard to say how this would affect his quickness and speed.
Speed: Closes really fast in zone coverage, which helps him stop receivers from getting yards after the catch. Shows a really good burst to get back into position to make a play on the ball or make up lost ground when coming out his backpedal.
Tackling: For Berry to become a better tackler, he’ll have to add more strength to his entire frame. There were times in 2009 when Berry whiffed on a tackles against strong running backs. he’s a sound wrap-up tackler, however, and will easily improve in this area. He doesn’t shy away from contact at all and really gets after the ball.
Final word: Just about everything about Berry is impressive — and that’s not even including his pure football skills. He was a captain of the Tennessee team and regarded as having great character. Unlike most football players who take easy majors, Berry studied dentistry and interned at a Georgia dentist office.
Berry is known as an excellent teammate who even played on special teams as a junior. He was moved around a lot during his junior season, which cause his interception totals to drop, but Berry didn’t complain.
Playing in defensive coordinator Monte Kiffin’s defense, Berry’s football intelligence only improved as a junior. He now has a skillset and intelligence base that should help him start immediately in the NFL. Clearly a proven pass defender entering 2009, Berry is now a premier all-around safety.
Berry is certainly a top 10 pick, and whatever team drafts him will get a versatile defender. Berry is certainly good enough to start at strong safety and be the next Ed Reed. Or a team could move him to cornerback and he’s good enough to be the next Darrelle Revis.