Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Five 'Under-the-Radar' Players To Watch: Brandan Bishop- #5

Safety Brandan Bishop kicks off Daniel House's list of five 'under-the-radar' players to watch when Vikings training camp begins in Mankato, MN. 

Updated: July 16th, 2014 12:09pm

By: Daniel House

Brandan Bishop spent the 2013 season on the practice squad and caught my attention during Vikings training camp last year. Bishop was perhaps the most overlooked safety during his time in college at N.C. State. Earl Wolff and David Amerson stole the show, as Bishop labored in zone coverage making tackles. He recorded 94 tackles and missed one game in his senior season with the Wolfpack. His instincts are what separate him from other safeties on this roster. He proved he knows how to make coverage adjustments and his intelligence made him a leader on the defense in college. Bishop didn't get sucked into false fakes and has the knowledge to be successful at the position. He is solid inside the box and he can get downhill and maintain solid technique and form tackling. Bishop can read the quarterback very well and recorded 12 interceptions during his college career. He didn't display this ability in limited reps at training camp last year, but his instincts are what stood out. He had the chance to develop some of these tangibles on the practice squad and with a new coaching staff, he could be utilized differently.

My biggest worry about Brandan will be how he can transition to playing more man coverage in Mike Zimmer's defensive scheme. In college, this wasn't his biggest strength. He traditionally has stiff hips and doesn't shift well, often getting turned around too far or not enough and not getting to the sidelines. When he opens his hips, receivers can easily take advantage of him and he shouldn't be used to cover the slot receiver or the tight end. He should be fine in press coverage and he can primarily show his physical presence in that avenue. You could similarly compare his physicality and playing style to Vikings safety Andrew Sendejo. He fits the brand of football the Vikings are looking to play and could be rotational depth if he can prove he isn't a liability in man coverage.

Bishop showed he could play special teams during the Vikings preseason games last year and I wouldn't be surprised to see him tested in this role frequently during training camp. The final safety spot will be won by the guy who can contribute the most on special teams. Bishop will be competing with Kurt Coleman, Robert Blanton, and Antone Exum for one of the final spots at safety. It will be a tough road for Bishop who has stiff competition in front of him, but his instincts and football knowledge might be enough to impress the new Vikings coaching staff.

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