6’1” – 230 lbs. – 4.65e
Team captain. Started on the weakside for his first two seasons, then slid inside in 2013. Reasonably thick for his height but nonetheless appears undersized for a middle linebacker and may draw interest as a potential candidate to convert back to weakside linebacker. Typically lined up in the middle of Southern California’s defense, but played on the outside on occasion. Runs well for his position; has the speed to play sideline-to-sideline and make zone drops in coverage, sometimes from the outside linebacker spot. Looks comfortable planting and driving on routes when in coverage. Has been asked to assume coverage responsibilities on slot receivers; also looks like he would be a strong candidate to cover running backs out of the flats. Not a forceful hitter, but remembers his tackling technique and doesn’t miss many opportunities. Takes on blocks a bit better than anticipated for a player of his size, at least as a downhill player; exhibits active hand use to prevent blockers from getting into his pads. When given a clear path to the quarterback, closes fairly quickly; could be effective on delay blitzes. Contributed on special-teams units, which could offer him an avenue for rookie contributions. Doesn’t diagnose plays as quickly as you’d like; is typically not the first player to arrive at the ball, and can be fooled by misdirection. Lack of top recognition skills neutralizes his athleticism, but he does offer considerable untapped potential for the same reason. Was asked to blitz fairly regularly, but is forced to take indirect routes to the quarterback due to his lack of bulk. Capable of running with tight ends, but may be physically overmatched by some of the true inline “Y” options at the pro level. May not hold up if asked to eat blocks in a 3-4 defense; best suited to a scheme in which he’s protected by bigger defensive linemen. Has enough athleticism to make up for his lack of size and should interest teams as someone who can work in both base and sub defenses, but often finds himself out of position as a result of his below-average diagnostic abilities, which are particularly concerning given his extensive starting experience, including two years under legendary Cover-2 coach Monte Kiffin.
Games watched: Arizona (’13), Arizona St. (’13), Stanford (’13)