Summary: Every year there are sleeper prospects who go on the second day of the draft, or in the mid-rounds, and end up being steals. Bailey could be one of those players this year. If you've watched USC over the past three seasons, it was impossible not to notice Bailey.
In his first two seasons, Bailey was a good Will linebacker in Monte Kiffin's Tampa 2. Bailey had 81 tackles, two interceptions and two sacks as a freshman in 2011. He was better as a sophomore with 80 tackles, eight tackles for a loss, four interceptions and five passes broken up. After Kiffin left for the NFL, Bailey went back to his natural position of safety.
Bailey remained a play-maker in 2013 despite the postion change. He recorded five interceptions with 62 tackles, 6.5 tackles for a loss, .5 sacks and six passes broken up on the season. Bailey had a big game against Stanford to help pull off an upset for the Trojans. He was all over the field against Derek Carr and Fresno State in USC's Las Vegas Bowl win. Bailey gave Carr fits. At the Combine, Bailey ran slower than expected (4.66), but he looked better in the field drills.
For the NFL, Bailey looks like a versatile starter who could be moved around between free and strong safety. He has the experience and toughness to play in the box and near the line of scrimmage. Bailey also has coverage ability on backs and tight ends while being a good zone defender in the middle of the field. He is versatile enough to play some free safety in the deep part of the field, although some teams are worried about his speed in that role. Bailey is quicker than fast, but he has good instincts to get position to make plays. Bailey also has good ball skills to create turnovers. He should be a nice weapon to do a variety of things on a defense.
Sources have told WalterFootball.com that they feel Bailey is a good player, but are concerned about a lack of speed for the NFL. They wonder if Bailey will be able to match up on speed receivers and cover ground in the deep part of the field.
A lack of speed is what holds Bailey back from being drafted higher. He could go as high as the second round, but he could slide to the mid-rounds of the 2014 NFL Draft.
Player Comparison: Darren Sharper. The Packers selected Sharper in the second round of the 1997 NFL Draft out of William & Mary. Sharper turned into an excellent pro safety who was a ball hawk in the back end. Bailey was a similar player for USC. Bailey is similar size, has good instincts and is versatile like Sharper. If Bailey lands with a good coaching staff that develops him, I think he could turn be an impactful safety like Sharper.
NFL Matches: Philadelphia, Detroit, St. Louis, Baltimore, Green Bay, San Francisco, Arizona
There are a lot of teams that could consider Bailey on the second day or early on the third day of the 2014 NFL Draft. The Eagles have a huge hole at safety, and Chip Kelly showed a tendency last year to draft players from collegiate rivals. Bailey would bring a play-making element to Philadelphia's defense, which Kelly likes in his defenders.
Detroit could use a safety to pair with Glover Quin after cutting Louis Delmas. Bailey would be a nice complement to Quin.
The Rams also need a long-term safety to pair with T.J. McDonald. The team's safety play was a big weakness in its defense in 2013. Bailey could be reunited with McDonald to give St. Louis an improved safety combination.
Baltimore Ravens general manager Ozzie Newsome said that improving the safety position would be a goal of the offseason. Bailey and Matt Elam could form one of the most versatile tandems in the NFL.
The safety position was a weakness for the Packers last year. They need to find a partner to go with Morgan Burnett. In some ways, Bailey is Green Bay's type of defensive back as the organization prefers rangy safeties with ball skills. However, Bailey doesn't have the speed that the Packers look for.
San Francisco could use an understudy to Antoine Bethea, and Bailey would be a natural for that role. Bailey should work well with Eric Reid. Arizona got a good season out of Yeremiah Bell in 2013, but the team will need to get a long-term starter. The Cardinals could target Bailey on Day 2 of the 2014 NFL Draft if they don't take a safety in the first round.