Very often there is a discussion of an athlete who plays QB (or another skill position) that is recruited to play safety or cornerback. It seems like it is casually thrown around that someone can just learn to play defense if they are a good athlete.
My question is: what is the track record of someone who plays defense in high school and develops skill at the safety position (taking good angles, knowing defensive strategies, learning to tackle, etc...) versus people who convert mid to late career.
Isn't there some skill related to experience that comes with playing a position for some time. Or does it all really just athletecism and speed? I realize it is obviously both, but is there any data to suggest how easy the changeover is.
I would be interested to know if someone has any numbers on outstanding safeties and when they made the transition to defense. I.e. "Was Ronnie Lott a great wide receiver who happened to be behind a better receiver and moved to the other side of the ball for playing time. Or was he taking cheap shot late hits and leading with his helmet at the age of 7?".