MOBILE, Ala. -- Vince Lombardi once told Herb Adderley that he was the best cornerback he had ever seen. Nasir Adderley is just trying to prove he is the best defensive back at the Senior Bowl.
The Delaware safety is related to the Hall of Famer known for playing in four of the first six Super Bowls, winning championship rings in three of them. His grandfather is cousins with Herb, and Nasir would receive old film from his days with the Packers and Cowboys.
“He sent me a whole bunch of different film from back in the day,” Adderley said after the second day of Senior Bowl practice in which he had an interception. “It was really nice because I actually heard some of the things Lombardi was saying. It was really nice to see that film. He did it all. He was a physical tackler, athletic, made plays on the ball. He was versatile. He played running back before he was a corner, and then he played free safety. He did it all. He definitely was one of the greatest ever to do it.”
Adderley took a page from his relative’s career and proved his versatility with the Blue Hens. He started his freshman and sophomore years at corner, moved to free safety and nickel as a junior, and then played strictly free safety in his final collegiate season. The Philadelphia native finished the year with a career-high 87 tackles, which ranked in the top-20 nationally for defensive backs. He also had a team-high four interceptions and seven pass break-ups to go along with one forced fumble and fumble recovery. Adderley was the only player in the country with over 160 tackles and nine interceptions over the past two seasons. For good measure, Adderley added a 92-yard kickoff return touchdown.
“I think I want to be someone that’s willing to do whatever a coach needs,” Adderley said, “someone that’s able to do whatever the coach asks me.”
At the Senior Bowl, his North Team is being coached by Jon Gruden and the Raiders staff. They had Adderley playing primarily free safety with reps sprinkled in at outside corner and some at nickel. It was at the latter spot where Adderley intercepted Duke quarterback Daniel Jones by jumping a route toward the left sideline. Adderley broke down the play.
“My responsibility is if the No. 2 receiver goes out to the flat, then it would be my responsibility,” he explained. “But the No. 2 receiver actually went across the formation and the running back came out to the flat, and then I just jumped the route.”
Adderley gets that attention to detail from Herb, who played in seven NFL championship games from 1961 to 1971. His teams – the Packers five times and the Cowboys twice – won every one. This was all after being drafted as a running back out of Michigan State, Giants coach Pat Shurmur’s alma mater.
Lombardi admitted he made a mistake with Herb, only switching him to defense in an emergency situation. “I was too stubborn to switch him to defense until I had to,” Lombardi once said, according to Herb’s Pro Football Hall of Fame bio. “Now when I think of what Adderley means to our defense, it scares me to think of how I almost mishandled him.”
“I’m so very thankful to have him in my corner,” the younger Adderley said. “I talk to him all the time. He’s been a tremendous influence on my career, very supportive. I’ve been talking to him since like the beginning of high school. (He told me to) just work hard, work hard to do all the little things. There are a bunch of different techniques for a defensive back that he helped me on. Treat the ball as if I’m the receiver, and then focus on my keys and alignment – just been a whole bunch of different advice that he’s helped me with.”
Adderley is ranked the No. 27 overall prospect by NFL Media’s Daniel Jeremiah and will participate in the NFL Scouting Combine next month in Indianapolis. He is just the eighth Blue Hen to receive an invite.
“Adderley is a slightly undersized safety prospect with outstanding instincts, range and ball skills,” Jeremiah wrote in his scouting report. “He is a former cornerback and his movement skills reflect that background. He is very fluid in his backpedal and his combination of recognition and burst allow him to cover a lot of ground. He has no issues locating the ball in the air and possesses strong, dependable hands. Against the run, he is aggressive to the alley and boasts a high batting average as a tackler. He also offers value in the return game, where he displays vision, speed and toughness. Overall, Adderley is an ideal, pure free safety and should be a quality starter immediately in his rookie campaign.”
Adderley wasn’t the only defensive back to shine on Day 2. Temple cornerback Rock Ya-Sin was one of Jeremiah’s five standouts.
“He's very fluid,” Jeremiah wrote. “He's had some really good battles with WR Deebo Samuel in each of the first two days of practice. Ya-Sin has a nice mix of size, speed and competitiveness. He looks like a top-50 pick.”
NFL.com's Daniel Jeremiah released the fourth edition of his top 50 prospect rankings.