Hard-hitting safety that can make some highlight-reel thumps. Comfortable playing in the box, and can come up and meet the ballcarrier in the hole. Shows good closing burst on the ball. Shows some ability to keep things in front of him when covering the back or tight end in the flat.
Mistake-prone and takes a lot of bad angles which lead to missed stops and big plays. Undersized, and tries to lower the shoulder instead of wrapping up. Can get run over by bigger backs and does a poor job breaking down in space to make the stop. Tackles too high at times.
Valai makes some big hits, but makes many more mistkaes. A three-year starter that has a similar frame and physical disposition as Bob Sanders, but lacks Sanders discipline and instincts when it comes to defending the run. Doesn't make enough plays in coverage to really like him as a regular on defense.
Valai's hitting ability might impress a team enough to give him a shot and if that translates to playing on special teams then he can stick at the next level. But he's not smart enough or disciplined enough to really be trusted on regular defense. He'll throw his weight around, but takes too many bad angles. Almost every Wisconsin game I saw last year he made a mistake that wound up giving up a touchdown or a big run/catch by taking a bad angle or missing a tackle. In a Cover-2 scheme, he might be able to get by, but he's a run-defending safety that you can't trust defending the run. Which is a bad mix.
Valai could work as a reserve strong safety in Atlanta because he'll have opportunities to play in the box. But lacks the range and speed in coverage to really have much of a chance there. So unless he shines as a special teams player, he'll be hard-pressed to be more than an average practice squad player. Eventually guys with better size, speed, and range will come along and push him off the roster.
Valai probably isn't worth drafting because of his limited upside on defense. At best, you can hope for him going late in the seventh round and making a roster as a special teams player.
1-poor, 2-weak, 3-above average, 4-very good, 5-elite
Ball Skills: 2.0
Scouting reports of the safeties in the 2011 Draft.
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