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It’s in the blood.
What else was Jamal Adams going to become in life but a football player?
Not just a football player, but a collegiate star who built himself into a first-round draft pick poised to carve out a promising professional career.
Adams has accomplished the first leg of that journey, having starred for LSU as one of the best safeties in the country the past three years. The next stage comes April 27 in the first round of the NFL Draft in Philadelphia, where he is expected to be one of the first five or 10 players selected.
Adams’ father, George, was a first-round draft pick by the Giants as a running back, the 19th overall player chosen in 1985. George was a member of the 1986 Super Bowl team.
“A lot of people, due to his pedigree, think that football was kind of pushed my way,’’ Jamal Adams said at the NFL combine. “But I kind of played everything growing up and I kind of fell in love with the game at age 5, really. I started at age 3. He just really stressed staying focused, trusting the process, and doing what I do. I love football. That’s my passion.”
Now that passion will become his profession.
In the past 40 years, just five safeties — Sean Taylor, Eric Berry, Kenny Easley, Eric Turner and Bennie Blades — have been drafted among the first five picks. Adams isn’t just hoping to join that elite group, he expects it.
“Hopefully I can make history,’’ Adams said. “Sean Taylor and Eric Berry are [two of the] highest safeties to be drafted when they went at No. 5. So hopefully I can go in the top four. I plan on being in the Hall of Fame one day. Now that I’ve moved on from high school and college, that’s my goal: to be a Hall of Famer and put on the yellow jacket.’’
The 6-foot, 214-pound Adams intercepted five passes for LSU and broke up 15 in his career. He also had 209 tackles, 17.5 of which went for a loss. As a junior, he had 76 tackles, 7.5 for loss, one interception. As a sophomore, he had 67 tackles, four INTs and six pass break-ups. He received first-team All-SEC and second-team All-American honors in 2016.
Adams is viewed by scouts as a do-it-all safety, and because of that he has heard some knocks on him for the next level as being versatile, but not special in any particular facet.
He ran a 4.56 in the 40 at the combine, a number Adams was not pleased about — considering it placed him in a three-way tie for ninth out of 15 safeties who ran there. At the LSU pro day, though, he ran a 4.33.
“How is it a bad thing that I’m good at so many things?” he said. “I feel like I’m versatile to play everything in the back end, and that’s what makes me a special player. There aren’t too many players who can play off of instinct, and I’ve got that locked down.”
What Adams, by all accounts, also has locked down is an innate leadership ability. Adams called “leadership definitely’’ one of his main attributes.
Adams credits his father for him being where he is today.
“I can not think of a better role model and example,’’ he told WBRZ-TV in Baton Rouge, La., earlier this year. “[Him] being selected as a first-round draft pick to the Giants is something that has always fueled me, made me eager to work, and made me feel like my goals were tangible because my own father had already achieved them.”
George Adams, whose career was shortened by a hip injury, told WBRZ that he steered his son away from following his footsteps as a running back because “I didn’t want him to take that pounding, so I wanted him to be on the other side of the ball where he delivered the licks instead of take the licks.”
Now father and son breathlessly await the son’s draft fate.
“I was the 19th pick in the first round, but this means more because I’m more excited for my son,” George Adams said. “I keep telling my wife I won’t break down, but if he goes that high [top five], you’ll probably see me crying like a baby.”