Notre Dame Senior
PROS: Is a smart safety that can be a bit fiesty and physical. Rarely gets caught out of position in coverage and shows nice awareness in zone. Works well in deep centerfield and has the ball skills to break up a pass. Does a good job keeping things in front of him. Shows ability to come upfield and defend the run, and usually takes good angles in space. Has closing burst on the ball, wraps up and is a nice drag-down tackler that will occasionally lower the shoulder and deliver the hit. Does a nice job cutting runner's legs, and finds ways to make stops in the open field, even if it's by a shoe-string.
CONS: Lacks ideal range and burst when working in zone coverage to consistently break up the pass. Not a rangy ballhawk and doesn't match up with receivers in the slot. Will overpursue at times. Is an undersized tackler that isn't great at the point of attack.
OVERVIEW: Notre Dame's quarterback of the defense and most disciplined performer at strong safety. He led the team in tackles the past two years as a starter, combining for 211 stops, including 6.5 for loss. Also led the team in picks this past year with 5, adding 2 as a junior.
NFL FORECAST: McCarthy probably projects best in a Cover-2 scheme where he can work one half of the field in deep cover. He's a disciplined player that I think is smart enough to be a starting free safety for an NFL. But he lacks the speed and range to really be a playmaker at the next level. But in the right scheme, like in Chicago or Tampa Bay, he can be a capable starter although he's not going to be a playmaker like most teams want. Because of that, I think he will spend most of his career as a reserve, but a very good one that can be a nice fill-in in the case of injury or inconsistent play from more talented players. He should have a long career and I think will be a valuable backup to have for a lot of teams.
ATL FORECAST: He would be a nice backup to have in Atlanta as a potential replacement for Coleman within a year or two, where he can potentially back up both positions. He doesn't have the range you want in a free safety, but would be more effective working in deep centerfield like the free safety tends to do more in Atlanta. He could be a fixture in Atlanta on the bench as a special teams performer. His intelligence and smarts would make him a nice stopgap starter to fill in for a few games, but wouldn't be a playmaker if he was forced to start extended periods of times. But he wouldn't make a lot of mistakes. He should be able to make the roster as a fourth safety and should be ready to push Coleman off the roster by his second or third season.
VALUE: McCarthy's value as a top reserve makes him worth a draft pick. I'd take him as early as the fifth round.
Scouting reports of safeties in the 2010 draft.
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