The last time Nickoe Whitley stood on a football field, he was stripping the football out of the hands of Ole Miss quarterback Bo Wallace at the goal line in overtime in the Battle for the Golden Egg to preserve a Mississippi State victory in Starkville. The next time Whitley stands on the field, he will be a member of the Cleveland Browns, who signed the free agent safety.
Nickoe signed with the Browns RT @VickBallard: How the MS State guys do in free agency?— loganlowery (@loganlowery) May 11, 2014
In Whitley, the Browns pick up a player who finished third all time at Mississippi State in career interceptions with 15, and when his career ended, no active FBS player had more interceptions than he did. He picked up five of those interceptions during his senior season, and if had not played most of the season with a torn ACL, he might have had more production during his 2013 campaign.
Whitley's best season may have come in 2012 when he earned second team All-SEC honors. That season saw him intercept three passes and force a fumble. He also brought down the ball carrier 88 times, 3.5 of those behind the line of scrimmage, to finish third on the team in tackles.
One of the worries about Whitley will be his injury history. In addition to his torn ACL, Whitley also ruptured his Achilles tendon during the Bulldogs' matchup with Alabama in 2011. He also tore his ACL and MCL in his second game of his senior season in high school.
Overall, Whitley has the ability to excel in situations that limit the amount of decision making he will have to make on the field, and he could be a solid contributor on special teams. He also has the ability to bring the heat on any tackle that he attempts to make.