GMs are doing a safety dance over Eric Berry

Eric Berry meets fans at Houndogs

Eric Berry is almost to the point of exhaustion.

"Shoot, I don't know what else they want to see," Berry said Saturday, referring to NFL general managers and coaches who have so thoroughly inspected his game for nearly four months.

Like every elite prospect in the NFL draft that begins Thursday (TV: ESPN, 7:30 p.m.), the Tennessee safety has been scrutinized like a mysterious piece of mail.

Can Berry play cornerback? Can Berry play the run? How's the toe he sprained during that workout in March?

It's enough to cause a flood of emotions for the usually reserved All-American.

"Very excited, nervous and anxious," said Berry, who added that his toe was just fine.

Mostly, the questions from NFL scouts about Berry have been more about the position he plays than the player he is. It's not forgoing his senior season. Safety isn't historically regarded as a premium position. NFL teams would rather have a great quarterback, defensive end, offensive tackle, cornerback, defensive tackle or even perhaps a linebacker than a great safety.

Therefore, Berry has had to prove he's more than just a great prospect. He's had to prove he's almost perfect. Fact is, he's almost done just that.

National publications have featured flowery reports that have compared Berry to recent NFL greats that are changing the perception of the safety position, such as Troy Polamalu of the Pittsburgh Steelers and Ed Reed of the Baltimore Ravens.

Sports Illustrated, USA Today and Yahoo!Sports were some of the national media to recently jump on board. The love fest has been mostly ignored by Berry.

"I haven't been watching TV too much, just been playing the game and trying to stay busy," said Berry, who was invited to New York for the draft. "The more I sit around and think about it, the more I get butterflies, so I just try to stay occupied.

"I read the one that was in Sports Illustrated, and there was another one in USA Today that I read. I was very pleased with those. But there's been some other stuff out there that I've been reading that I've been using for motivation - just really trying to stay grounded."

Safety has been questioned extensively this season with three safeties - Berry, Earl Thomas of Texas and Taylor Mays of Southern California - projected to be selected in the first round.

Berry is such a great NFL prospect that some teams seemed determined to turn him into a cornerback when he first was inspected at the NFL combine.

That talk has subsided, mercifully so for Berry.

"I think a lot of the coaches and GMs like the fact that I can play corner, but I play safety," Berry said. "I think putting me at corner would limit me a little bit. I think that's what Tennessee realized when they put me at corner (in 2007). I can make plays at corner, but I think it takes me out of the running game and takes me out of being around the ball a little bit more. I really do enjoy playing safety."

That versatility may one day become en vogue. It could even happen tonight - if the NFL finally thinks like Berry.

"They have to (value safeties) when you're facing guys like (quarterbacks) Drew Brees and Tom Brady," he said. "(And) you have to have a good safety that can cover the slot (receiver) when you have people like Wes Welker, catching 80 to 90 balls a season. You need a safety to come in to compete with those guys. (The way people view safeties) has to be different."

At times, the debate gets exhausting.

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Comments » 32

HtownVol writes:

I very much do not expect to see EB ever used at corner. He is too good at safety, why change it?

USNVOL writes:

Best of luck Eric.I hope you are in the top5.

MikeTheTiger writes:

Best of luck to you Eric. You were a pleasure to watch in the SEC and I know you will be great in the NFL. Glad you are leaving before we have to face you in Baton Rouge this fall!

TennesseeGorilla writes:

I hope no one wants him...except the Titans...but that will never happen

rockytopman writes:

let's go skins...please!!!

stayingorange writes:

EB is a smart, class act. Best of luck in the draft.

SuckTheseVols98 writes:

did EB mention Drew Brees and Tom Brady over Peyton Manning??

Bigger_Al writes:

E can dance if he wants to, he can leave TE's behind;
Cause TE's can't dance, and if they can't dance,
well, they're no friends of mine.

Well.....

Muscle_Shoals_Vol writes:

in response to DC_10point0:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

What a Moron................

77VolFS writes:

in response to DC_10point0:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

First of all, I have a tremendous respect for Tim and who he is as a person.

As for you and your obvious lack of NFL football reality, LOL !!!

GreerVol22 writes:

its the old school GMs at the top of the draft board that keep thinking the Eric Berry's of the world belong at corner....that why they are always at the top of the draft board and never in the playoffs...

striker4545 writes:

Wouldnt it be nice if he pulled an Elway and declined some horrible team... I hate to see such a talented young man lost forever... Oh well

volntx writes:

in response to Bigger_Al:

E can dance if he wants to, he can leave TE's behind;
Cause TE's can't dance, and if they can't dance,
well, they're no friends of mine.

Well.....

Now thats funny, I dont care who you are.

scott_m99 writes:

in response to GreerVol22:

its the old school GMs at the top of the draft board that keep thinking the Eric Berry's of the world belong at corner....that why they are always at the top of the draft board and never in the playoffs...

excellent point

RockyTop1_old writes:

in response to Muscle_Shoals_Vol:

What a Moron................

Well said!!

easleychuck writes:

in response to Muscle_Shoals_Vol:

What a Moron................

Actually, a moron can't help itself. This is actually an individual who hates on people who have actually had accomplishments in their lives. He is an inadequate excuse for a human being who trolls around in life because that is all he's capable of doing.

illinoisvolfan writes:

in response to Bigger_Al:

E can dance if he wants to, he can leave TE's behind;
Cause TE's can't dance, and if they can't dance,
well, they're no friends of mine.

Well.....

I hoped someone would remember the "Saftey Dance." Hilarious and very well done. GBO!

wmainhotrods writes:

That is my Daughter in the tank top from the orange white game sat.

illinoisvolfan writes:

in response to DC_10point0:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

Tebow may very well have a Super Bowl ring during his career, perhaps multiple ones, but not as an every down QB. He's got the potential to be a very good TE or H-back. He reminds me of the Redskins H-back, but with more athletic ability. He will be excellent running a team's "Wildcat" formation because of his powerful running style. But running an NFL offense, let alone winning a Super Bowl within three years as a starter, don't think so.

Have a nice day Urban and good luck with your "fatigue."

RoyaltyVol writes:

"With the 5th pick, in the 2010 NFL draft, the Kansas City Chiefs select, Eric Berry, DB, Tennessee". I lived in KC, great football town, Eric will be a great fit there!

uttcut writes:

What is impressive to me is that he could tout himself as a corner, 'maybe' pick up a spot or two in the draft (which means more $$$), and then just play safety, but he will state where he would be best played, and be fine with that. Corners are viewed as more important in the NFL than safeties, but I think he just wants to be the best HE can be. Not just collect a paycheck. One of the top 10 Vols of all time!

BigBadVol writes:

in response to DC_10point0:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

Please stop showing your ignorance and bias. It's absurd. Manning is the best to ever play the position according to most analyst. You're continue to show what an idiot you really are.

rockytop33 writes:

in response to DC_10point0:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

It is a shame Tim will not attend the draft tonight. I guess he did not want to be sitting there waiting to be drafted Friday or Saturday. Smart move on his part. The only way he gets a ring in the next three years is if he goes to a team that wins one for him because he will be second or third string for a few years!!!!

RoyaltyVol writes:

in response to rockytop33:

It is a shame Tim will not attend the draft tonight. I guess he did not want to be sitting there waiting to be drafted Friday or Saturday. Smart move on his part. The only way he gets a ring in the next three years is if he goes to a team that wins one for him because he will be second or third string for a few years!!!!

Tebow will do well in the NFL. I see him going in the 2nd round. I think he will surprise a lot of people, except those of us who have watched him play in the SEC the last 4 years, we already know what he can do. I hate Florida, but Tebow is a great player and a good kid and I wish him well.

Halls3 writes:

in response to rockytop33:

It is a shame Tim will not attend the draft tonight. I guess he did not want to be sitting there waiting to be drafted Friday or Saturday. Smart move on his part. The only way he gets a ring in the next three years is if he goes to a team that wins one for him because he will be second or third string for a few years!!!!

If Tebow goes to the right team, i.e. Vikings, Patriots, or Colts, & gets to sit for 2 or 3 years before starting behind a Brady, Favre, or Manning I could see him winning a Super Bowl within 3 years of becoming an NFL starting QB. Like it or not his delivery is already 100X better than it was & with practice behind a HOF caliber QB he will pick up the tools he needs to be a great QB. He's already a great leader & talented player & just needs time to become a great QB. I would love to see him in a Vikings or Colts uniform b/c he would be a winner at both places.

GreerVol22 writes:

in response to wmainhotrods:

That is my Daughter in the tank top from the orange white game sat.

so is it you or your wife that looks like a beagle? Sorry dude, i don't really mean that , but you set it up.

BigBadVol writes:

Tebow has no chance of being an NFL quarterback. Period. His delivery is too slow for the NFL and he does not have good pocket presence. In college he could run when the pocket was collapsing but if he does it now he will get killed. I know he is working with a QB coach but he has no chance. Now, somebody come back in three years and tell me how wrong I was about Tebow. It won't happen.

pastorjc writes:

Welcome to Cleveland!

striker4545 writes:

All that hard work to end up a cleveland Brown! LOL

AtLeastMyTeamHasPerfectSeasons writes:

You guys hear about EB SNUBBING Deion Sanders a couple of days ago?

Deion wanted to interview Berry at an NFL Play60 event and he declined! The reason? Get this:
Because Deion refused to sign an autograph for Eric when he was in high school!

F FSU! You go Berry!

voloffaith writes:

in response to AtLeastMyTeamHasPerfectSeasons:

You guys hear about EB SNUBBING Deion Sanders a couple of days ago?

Deion wanted to interview Berry at an NFL Play60 event and he declined! The reason? Get this:
Because Deion refused to sign an autograph for Eric when he was in high school!

F FSU! You go Berry!

I enjoyed reading this for the second time today.....nope didn't read this article twice ,but poster put it in multiple articles.

Colliervol writes:

He's a KC Chief.

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