One could argue that Nat Berhe began his professional football career the day he was drafted 152nd overall by the New York Giants. One could also argue that his career began a few days later at rookie training camp or even recently at the full roster's training camp. All valid arguments, and all correct on one level or another.
But tonight is different. Tonight, Berhe puts on the famous blue uniform and performs on the football field in front of a national audience for the first time. Tonight, Berhe really becomes an NFL safety. And tonight is also the night that Berhe can truly assert himself as New York's strongest rookie and make his claim for big-time minutes going forward.
With former Giant strong safety Will Hill suspended, released and picked up by the Baltimore Ravens, Berhe is New York's third strong safety behind Cooper Taylor and Antrel Rolle, according to CBS Sports. However, Taylor, New York's 152nd pick in 2013, doesn't have his backup role locked down and he only recorded four tackles in his rookie season. One thing going for Taylor: he bulked up this offseason and is now 6'4", 228 pounds.
Berhe is a very interesting player for the Giants. His size--6'0", 194 pounds--is more suited for free safety (where he would play behind Quintin Demps), but his strength and tackling power are more suited to for strong safety. So, even though CBS Sports lists Berhe as a strong safety, don't be surprised to see Berhe at both strong and free safety positions throughout the season. He practically did the same thing as SDSU's "Aztec" safety for the 2012-13 and 2013-14 seasons.
NJ.com writer Conor Orr loves Berhe's skill-set and potential. He identified Berhe's comfort in complex defensive schemes, his ability to "fire out of a backpedal" and his tackling power as some of his biggest strengths. Orr writes that Berhe might spend this season behind Demps at free safety, but could also be a special teams star--he predicted Berhe would lead the Giants' special teams in tackles at the beginning of the season.
Personally, I think Berhe has a great shot to earn some serious playing time in the secondary. He has the football smarts to read defenses and immediately mesh with a complex defense, and he has the quickness and power that every successful NFL safety needs.
However, Berhe is playing alongside some great secondary talent, as well. So Orr's prediction is another possible scenario: Berhe uses his unique blend of smarts and power to be a special teams playmaker.
Watch the Giants take on the Buffalo Bills tonight at 5 p.m. PT on NBC in the annual Hall of Fame Game. Berhe will play, and maybe we'll get some indication as to, one: how the coaches will utilize him, and two: what type of year Berhe will have.