If there is a tone-setting, hard-hitting safety in the 2014 NFL Draft, it is Louisville's Calvin Pryor.
The safety has knockout power as a tackler. That is not jargon or hyperbole. He has literally knocked players out on the field. From a big-hitter perspective, Pryor is dangerous.
He's much more than hard hits, though. As a safety, Pryor has few limitations.
Ball skills: In three years, Pryor had seven interceptions and 14 pass breakups. At times, Pryor will display incredible ball skills. He had a highlight reel interception in the end zone against Central Florida, for instance. Other times he just doesn't display the hands required to intercept a pass. More so, Pryor seems more content hitting a receiver to cause an incompletion instead of breaking it up with his hands. He'll never get confused with Earl Thomas in this area.
Coverage ability: Pryor certainly has the range to play deep coverage safety. Held in on in cover-3. He did it plenty at Louisville. He was also split out wide to the short side of the field. Pryor has shown the ability to mirror a receiver down the field. Will get burned on quick comebacks. Doesn't redirect on those type of routes that well.
Instincts/recognition: Pursuit is at the same time Pryor's greatest strength and his greatest weakness. Pryor can be like an out of control missile in pursuit. On some plays he'll come down in run support and successfully stuff a play. On others he'll completely overrun the play and make himself a non-factor. Hustles on every play.
He seems to be able to decipher a play quickly to close off rushing lanes. Is around the ball on most plays.
Run support: As a routine tackler, he'll sometimes leave a bit to be desired. Pryor too often dives at ankles to take the ball carrier down instead of squaring up and running through his opponent. When Louisville didn't drop Pryor into deep zone coverage, he was to support then run. Pryor can read a play in a hurry and close on the ball carrier. As mentioned above, though, he can overrun the play when he gets too aggressive.
Final word: Pryor is the type of defensive back who could be brought in to start immediately. From a physical standpoint, he is ready for the NFL. He's a good all-around safety who is physical in the run game. Against the pass, Pryor has shown he's capable of playing zone or man.