Most NFL Draft prospects received scholarship offers from big-time college football programs. but that was not the case for defensive back Nasir Adderley. Adderley received three Division-I offers, with only one from an FBS school. He wound up choosing Delaware, an FCS program, over Wake Forest and Towson.
For a while, Adderley was unsure if would receive any offers because of his poor academics early on in high school, but he rebounded with solid grades as a junior and senior, affording him the opportunity to become a Division-I student athlete.
"Delaware is a great school in terms of athletics and academics and it made me who I am today, and that's a lesson I needed to learn and I'm grateful I learned that at an early age and was able to turn it around," Adderley said during his press conference at the NFL Combine in March. "I was able to turn it around to make a change and get into a dream school as well."
Four years later, Adderley has evolved into perhaps the top small-school pro prospect. NFL.com's Daniel Jeremiah seems to think so, ranking Adderley as the 33rd-best prospect in the 2019 NFL Draft. Other pundits have pegged Adderley as a late first-round pick. If that's the case, he'll be just the second first-round selection in school history.
"I would say my biggest strength is my relentlessness and my work ethic," Adderley said. "I'm the guy that's always doing extra work off the field. I'm the guy putting on extra weight in the weight room. On the field, you won't have to question my effort whether I'm at special teams, corner, safety. You won't ever have to question my effort."
Take a look at photos from Sunday March 4, 2019 at the 2019 NFL Scouting Combine. Photos from NFL.
The 6-foot, 200-pound Adderley has the size and speed to play both cornerback and safety in the NFL, and he proved that as a four-year starter at Delaware, totaling 226 tackles, 13 passes defensed and 11 interceptions and earning All-CAA honors three times. As a senior, the Associated Press named him as a second-team FCS All-American.
According to Kyle Crabbs of the Draft Network, Adderley is "the latest small-school prospect to serve as a reminder that high quality football players come from every level. Adderley has high-end coverage skills and tackling, making him a desirable candidate to start in a single high role on defense. His projection would pair best in a man scheme, where he is then able to focus on prowling for the football as compared to passing off coverages. Adderley has excellent anticipation and ball skills, can be an impact starter."
Despite playing the majority of his career at free safety, Adderley is open to playing elsewhere in the secondary. He wants to become a three-down defensive back that teams can rely on in a variety of situations.
"I'm going to play wherever," Adderley said. "I like to play in the post. I like to come down in the box. I like the blitz. I wasn't asked to blitz often. That's something I feel confident I can do as well."
Despite suffering an ankle injury midway through his senior campaign, Adderley kept playing and delayed his rehab until after the Senior Bowl. He saw the Senior Bowl as a fantastic opportunity to showcase his skills against other top talents, and afterwards he felt that his performance there helped quiet any questions that may have arisen about him being a small-school prospect.
To help prepare for the draft, Adderley has been in constant talks with a family member who knows his fair share about manning the secondary in the NFL. Adderley is the cousin of Pro Football Hall of Fame defensive back Herb Adderley, so he's been sure to learn as much as he can before he attempts to honor the family name at the sport's highest level.
"He's just extremely supportive of me and he obviously gives me pointers," Adderley said. "One of the biggest parts that he helped me with was playing corner because I had never played corner before I got to Delaware. It was new for me and he helped me out tremendously in terms of my alignments and what to look at and know where my help is. So, that transition was a lot smoother because of him."