The Atlanta Falcons selected Wisconsin safety Dezmen Southward in the third round of the 2014 NFL Draft, taking him with the 68th overall selection.
Southward joins second-round pick Ra’Shede Hageman as a fellow Senior Bowl participant targeted by the team, suiting up for the North squad under the Falcons’ guidance during the all-star week in January. Southward is a two-year starter at Wisconsin, playing both free safety and strong safety. During his time at the Senior Bowl, he also got work at cornerback.
Southward measured in at 6′ and 211 pounds at the Scouting Combine in February. He did not participate in any drills to injury issues, but did have an outstanding pro day in early March, where he was clocked as fast as 4.31 seconds in the 40-yard dash and had a 40-inch vertical jump. He also posted a 6.50-second three-cone drill and leapt 10 feet, 4 inches on his broad jump during his pro day workout.
Southward started the final 28 games over his career and was an honorable mention All-Big Ten candidate over his final two seasons at Wisconsin. During that time, he combined for 109 tackles, 11.5 for loss, two interceptions and 10 pass breakups.
Southward’s stepfather, Eli Rasheed, is currently the defensive line coach at Toledo University. Southward did not play football until his senior year of high school, previously playing basketball and running track. He worked on the track and field team briefly during 2013 while at Wisconsin, filling in as an injury replacement on their 4×100 meter relay team.