Monday, August 15, 2022

As the NFL draft approaches, Maryland football safety Nick Cross sees his dream closer to reality: ‘It’s right in front of him’

Michael Cross remembers it as if it were yesterday. He remembers his son and Maryland football safety Nick Cross sitting in front of the television as a child, watching Washington’s NFL team play on Sundays.

Michael remembers the joy on his son’s face when he saw former Washington safety Sean Taylor tormenting opponents and the tears running down Cross’s eyes whenever they lost.

As Cross is days away from the 2022 NFL Draft, Michael fills with nothing but excitement and joy, knowing that his son’s dreams of playing professionally are closer to reality.

“It’s right in front of him,” said Michael. “He’s making his dream come true.”

Michael said Cross’s decision to either enter the draft or return to Maryland for his senior season was a difficult one. He said that Cross enjoyed the atmosphere of the college and believed he had more. But, after talking to agents, Krauss felt it was best to play professionally.

“The opportunity is here to seize the moment now,” said Michael. “There was a lot of discussion going on, especially with them being very tormented, [and] The family was just trying to make sure the right decision was taken.”

Since the draft’s announcement, Cross has taken a similar approach. Even after impressing the NFL Scouting Combine by running a 40-yard dash in 4.34 seconds, the fastest in Safaris, he has kept the same calm and courteous attitude he displayed in Maryland.

“Millions of kids dream of going to the NFL, but only a select few get the chance to play in the NFL,” Cross said during Pro Day in Maryland. “I am grateful and blessed to be one of those few.”

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Cross, a three-time All-Big Ten honorable mention selection, played in 29 games for the Terps, with a total of 134 tackles and five interceptions. Last season, Cross finished second on the team in tackles (66), which included a 3 1/2 loss, while including three sacks, four pass breakups and three takeaways. His stock has been rising since then.

Maryland coach Mike Loxley believes Cross is a unique possibility because of his ability to play in different parts of the field. According to Pro Football Focus, Cross played 281 snaps as box safety, 420 on free safety, 53 as slot corners and 24 snaps as wide outs.

“He’s a combination boy that [can] Play in the middle third of the field, but also come down and be a physical presence in the box,” Locksley said. “I think the NFL teams that are evaluating him are excited about that.”

Another feature that has benefited Cross is that he is still relatively new to the sport. He wasn’t allowed to play football until he moved to Dimatha, but that never stopped him from studying highlights on YouTube of Taylor and former Ravens safety Ed Reed.

At Dematha, Cross played in three different positions, starting as a defensive lineman to linebacker and finally transitioning to safety. Maryland running back coach Eliza Brooks, who coached the Bowie resident in high school, said Cross’s commitment to mastering each position was greater than anything else.

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“His commitment to learning the skill set so he can be productive is going to take him a long way,” Brooks said.

NFL Network and draft analyst Daniel Jeremiah believes Cross could develop into a starter in the league. He said Cross is fluid on his feet and is an effective tackler and blitzer. Instinct-wise, Jeremiah feels that Cross is “one count late” compared to the other Safaris in the draft.

Jeremiah predicts that the cross will be taken in the third round, but he will not be surprised if he is drafted in the second round.

“The athleticism is just too big in that position to be able to cover man,” Jeremiah said. “I think he’s going to be a good player.”

ESPN and The Athletic anticipate Cross going into the third round, while CBS Sports drafts the Cincinnati Bengals into the second round with the 63rd overall pick in their latest mock draft.

Even though Cross is a fan of Washington, he is ready to play for any team that allows him to live out his lifelong dream.

“Any team that gives me the opportunity, I will always be grateful,” Krauss said.

Loxley said he had conversations with several NFL general managers, telling them that crosses had just scratched the surface.

“I think you will continue to see him develop over the next few years, where he has the chance to make a big career in the NFL,” Locksley said.

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Nation World News Desk
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