Utah’s Cole Bishop one of top safety prospects from Starr’s Mill High

INDIANAPOLIS – Utah safety Cole Bishop, who played at Starr’s Mill High, is one of the top prospects at his position at the NFL scouting combine.

He solidified his status by running the 40-yard dash in 4.45 seconds on Saturday.

The Falcons are looking to improve their safety position opposite of Jessie Bates III and they drafted Utah cornerback Clark Phillips III in the fourth-round (113th overall) last season.

“Obviously it would be cool to stay close to home,” said Bishop, who 6-foot-2 and 205 pounds. “Clark Phillips is in Atlanta. I played with him. But I’ll be happy wherever I end up.”

Bishop was a three-star recruit and initially committed to Duke. Bishop believes his skill-set projects well into the NFL.

“I think my ability to cover tight ends,” Bishop said. “I think I do that better than a lot of people. My versatility to play free (safety) and strong (safety). And my intelligence, I feel like I’m a smart player.”

The Falcons had trouble with tight ends last season. Arizona’s Trey McBride caught eight passes for 131 yards to help the Cardinals beat the Falcons 25-23 on Nov. 12.

In the key late-season loss to Tampa Bay, tight end Cade Otton caught an 11-yard touchdown pass from Baker Mayfield with 31 seconds left in a 29-25 loss on Dec. 10.

“Yeah, our base was man coverage,” Bishop said. “We did a lot of man, man pressures. A lot of zone pressures as well.”

Bishop received a lot of work against former Utah tight end Dalton Kincaid in practice. Kincaid was drafted in the first-round (25th overall) by the Bills last season.

“Dalton, I can give him props for that,” Bishop said. “Getting to cover him and Brant Kuithe every day, different players, but covering Dalton Kincaid every day in practice makes it a lot easier to cover other guys. Dalton’s still doing his thing at the next level. It means the world to me I got to cover a player like that.”

Kuithe returned to Utah and did not enter the draft.

Bishop also trusts his instincts when not covering tight ends.

“I’d say our defensive coordinator helped me a ton throughout the process in making me a smarter player,” Bishop said. “Instincts are something that come naturally and some things can be learned. It’s huge being able to anticipate plays that are coming at you.”

Bishop played alongside Utah safety Sione Vaki, who also had a strong combine.

“He’s awesome, he’s also super versatile,” Bishop said. “This year we didn’t play free or strong. We just played sides, so being able to rotate back and forth was awesome. That’s my guy. I hang out every day with him pretty much off the field. He’s a versatile guy, a great athlete.”

Bishop has tried to model his game after Tampa Bay safety Antoine Winfield.

“He blitzes,” Bishop said. “He’s in coverage. He has the ability to play deep. He does a lot of different things. I’ve seen a lot of clips of him blitzing recently. It’s pretty cool.”

He also likes Minnesota safety Harrison Smith (2012-present) and former Seattle safety Kam Chancellor (2010-17).

Bishop played some wide receiver and running back in high school.

“I was committed to Duke for a little bit and coach (Morgan) Scalley (Utah’s defensive coordinator) reached out to me and convinced me to go out there,” Bishop said. “He showed me all the guys he’s put in the league who were like me, seeing what they’ve done with safeties.”

Bishop played in 36 games for the Utes. He finished with 197 tackles, three interceptions, 7.5 sacks, four fumble recoveries and a forced fumble.

“I’ve always loved being a physical player since I was younger,” Bishop said. “I’ve always taken pride in it.”

Bishop has a few highlights from his time in Salt Lake City, which included 29 starts.

“Week 1, I had a good week against Florida,” Bishop said. “Defensively, we did well.”

The Utes beat the Gators 24-11 on Aug. 31. Bishop had 11 tackles and a forced fumble.

He felt that Oregon, which was led by quarterback Bo Nix, was the toughest offense the Utes faced.

“Oregon gave us a lot of problems,” Bishop said. “They did a lot of no huddle stuff that gave us some hiccups. Oregon. Washington. There were a lot of good offenses in the Pac 12 this year.”

Bishop believes he’s a scheme-fit for most NFL defenses.

“Utah did a lot of different things,” Bishop said. “I’ve played free. I’ve played strong. I’ve played in the box. I’ve played two-high. I’m able to do a lot of different things.”

Bishop is the athlete in the family.

“My older brother (Jake) went to Georgia Tech,” Bishop said. “He’s really smart. He just got a big promotion at Home Depot.”

Bishop majored in Communications at Utah.

“I’ve got two classes left, so as soon as I get settled in I’ll finish,” Bishop said.

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