6’2” – 252 lbs. – 4.80e
Was a reserve/special-teams player for his first two seasons, then replaced C.J. Mosley on the weakside in 2014 before moving inside as a senior; now lines up on the inside of Alabama’s two-gap odd defensive front. Has a thick, sturdy build with average height and long limbs; plays with a solid base and is able to withstand contact without losing ground. Well-coached with good instincts; keys on plays quickly and can knife his way into the backfield or step into gaps in order to disrupt rushing attempts. When playing downhill, generates enough power to reestablish the line of scrimmage in the backfield. Can scrape down the line and work his way through trash to get to the ball. Sheds blocks effectively thanks to his long arms, effective extension, and heavy hands. Has an impressive tackling radius, with effective wrap technique; can set the tone with big hits as well. Gives good effort but probably won’t be much of a threat to pursue to the sidelines due to his average straight-line speed. Makes some limited zone drops in coverage, but is typically not asked to carry tight ends down the field on passing downs; usually responsible for lurking just behind crossing routes, keeping the play in front of him, although he may not be fast enough to avoid being exploited by those routes at the pro level. Looks technically-sound, however, with a good-looking backpedal and the ability to change directions fairly well. Also looked more comfortable than anticipated against Texas A&M’s spread offense. Doesn’t blitz particularly often from the linebacker position but has the type of skillset which should allow him to generate pressure on the inside when asked to do so; rather, typically rushes from the right defensive end spot on passing downs, where the Tide often work out of a four-man line, recalling Dont’a Hightower’s past role in the Tide defense. The type of two-down thumper who should be able to step into a complex defense’s starting lineup as a rookie by virtue of having spent his collegiate career playing under legendary coach Nick Saban. Might also be worth giving a look as a strongside “elephant” linebacker with edge-setting responsibilities in a two-gap defensive front, having shown some ability to bull rush into the backfield and redirect toward the quarterback in his time playing right end. A high-floor prospect who makes up for his average speed and range with desirable strength, physicality, instincts, and technique.
Games watched: Texas A&M (’14), Georgia (’15), Wisconsin (’15)