NFL Draft Prospect Profile: Safety Al Afalava

Little has been said about the Bears’ need for a free safety since the signing of Josh Bullocks followed by the signings of OTs Kevin Shaffer and Orlando Pace and the trade for Jay Cutler. Make no mistake though the need for a prospect possibly in the later rounds of the draft that could come in and develop as a free safety is there.

A prospect who caught the eye of the Chicago Bears enough that he earned the right to a private workout invite was Oregon State’s Al Afalava. Instantly people are scratching their heads at a prospect who was not invited to workout at the NFL combine. Furthermore they’re left wondering what level of prospect he is because he didn’t receive much in the way of post-season awards or honors. What is important to take into account though regarding a possible sleeper prospect like Afalava is he came from a conference that is rich in safety talent this year.

Taylor Mays would have been a sure fire first round pick had he come out this year, so he automatically overshadows everyone in the conference. Patrick Chung from Oregon State, who is a second round level prospect and then ASU’s Troy Nolan is another who was invited to the combine to compete and workout for NFL scouts. All are just players from the Pac-10 conference who were recognized for their accomplishments in 2008.

So along comes this Oregon State Beaver prospect from Corvallis Oregon. For those who aren’t familiar with Corvallis, it’s in the middle of no where and to get there is a hike by bus or car because there is no airport nearby. So who emerges from Oregon State’s pro day but a safety who measures a respectable 5-foot-11 comes in at 210-pounds and runs in the 4.46 to 4.48 range in the 40-yard dash. No big deal you say? Okay so he follows it up with 25 reps on the bench press and a broad jump of 10-feet-7 inches. His workout number would have been the best all around effort of any of the safeties invited to the combine.

Okay so he’s a workout warrior, and his senior stats are only 36 tackles and eight pass break ups and two interceptions. Well what do you expect from a sleeper prospect who is slated to go in the later rounds of the NFL draft. Not every prospect on here is going to a first or second round prospect as much as every Bears fan wants them to be. Afalava’s biggest problem was he got into a bit of trouble with a DUI incident where he crashed into a bus stop and then fled the scene of the accident. Scared stupid college kid mistake that will be studied over greatly by the Bears coaching staff. We can go over his character with a fine tooth comb, but all that matter is how he would act if he were a Chicago Bears player.

His best year was his junior year where he raked in 64 total tackles which ranked his third best on the team. The important aspect of Afalava that will probably be overlooked because he doesn’t have all the glitz and glamor of stats that people want to see is that has aspects of his game that can’t be coached, that’s athleticism and speed and strength. Plus there is more than just the Bears looking at this prospect after his pro day workout.

What we do know for certain is this, Jerry Angelo has earned our trust as fans when it comes to judging DB talent in the later rounds. He has had good if not arguably great success at find talent from rounds four on back. Al Afalava of Oregon State is one of those prospects to keep an eye, especially when considering the reputation of the new secondary coach.

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