Browns No. 8 pick scouting report: S Eric Hagg, Nebraska

Posted April 30, 2011 @ 8:55 p.m.
Posted By Mike Wilkening

Nebraska S Eric Hagg, the Browns' seventh-round draft pick, will vie to make the team as a reserve and special-teams contributor. The 6-1 3/8, 209-pound Hagg played a hybrid linebacker-defensive back role dubbed the "Peso" position in Nebraska's scheme. He is likely to be a safety in Cleveland, though he could also be tried at cornerback.

For more background, here is personnel analyst Nolan Nawrocki's scouting writeup of Hagg in PFW's 2011 Draft Preview:

Notes: Cornerback-receiver who also played basketball as an Arizona prep. As a true freshman in 2007, saw limited action in seven games and was credited with two tackles, zero pass breakups and zero interceptions. Served as the nickel back for Carl Pelini’s defense in ’08, starting 10-of-13 games and tallying 39-7-0 with five tackles for loss, a sack and a forced fumble. Started 10-of-14 games at the nickel in ’09 and posted 40-4-1 with seven tackles for loss, two sacks and a forced fumble. Made all 14 starts at the “Peso” position (hybrid linebacker-defensive back) in ’10 and logged 49-4-5 with three tackles for loss, one sack and a forced fumble. Returned a punt 95 yards for a touchdown against Texas. Was named the team MVP and won the character award after the season.

Positives: Very good size and length — has an athletic build with long arms and big hands. Very good straight-line speed, movement skills and coverage ability. Good hip flexibility and body control. Can play over the slot and stay in the hip pocket on crossing routes. Willing in run support and is a secure tackler. Solid character.

Negatives: Could stand to improve functional strength to play off blocks. Does not intimidate physically — not a physical, striking tackler. Inconsistent field leverage. Instincts are a work in progress. Does not always play with confidence or abandon. Average football IQ and is not a secondary leader. Did not look comfortable when tried at cornerback at the Senior Bowl.

Summary: A young, athletic, rangy safety whose length, versatility and coverage skills make him valuable in a passing league, though he is not a natural at the position, having played a hybrid for the Cornhuskers, and could be best-suited to play a mix-and-match third safety role in the pros. Underdeveloped instincts and lack of physicality could be restricting and require patience.

NFL projection: Late draftable pick.