6’1” – 225 lbs. – 4.60e
Three-year starter who played his freshman season at strong safety. Despite being listed as a strongside linebacker/safety, typically lines up on the weak side of the formation and projects to the latter in the pros as well. Has an athletic but somewhat lanky build. Stouter than his size would indicate when taking on opposing linemen in the run game, but tends to get glued to blocks; however, can keep track of the ballcarrier and make the occasional tackle while engaged. Aggressive player who can be disruptive in the backfield due to his quick keys and explosiveness, but who sometimes sacrifices the edge when run at; otherwise, looks patient in backside pursuit and generally takes pretty good angles to the ball. Has some trouble diagnosing the read option. Forceful hitter given his size, with the ability to stop running backs from falling forward. Motor never stops; gives very good effort in pursuit and has the range to pursue to the sidelines. On passing downs, lines up opposite slot receivers, typically making zone drops with controlled movements and the ability to plant and break at the route stem. Gets low and looks very fluid when changing directions. Fast enough to ride receivers into a deeper zone. Has some experience jamming at the line of scrimmage. Will occasionally fail to get enough depth as a result of playing the quarterback’s eyes. Has rarely been asked to line up against opposing tight ends. Employed as a pass-rusher more often than most weakside linebackers; looks even more comfortable playing downhill than he does in coverage. Shows some violence in his hands and can generate a bit of push with his bull-rush. Exhibits the ability to shed blocks or avoid engagement. Has the speed to be a threat off the edge but can be a little bit out of control when he blitzes. Will get his hands up in an attempt to bat down passes. A smooth, instinctive linebacker with plus athleticism and the ability to contribute in run support, in coverage, and as a blitzer. Has the type of playing demeanor coaches like to see and has the potential to develop into an every-down starter at the pro level. May not be the biggest linebacker but has impressive functional strength and might not have to risk losing much athleticism in order to bulk. Might not be able to play in the middle of either base defense, but should benefit from the league’s current emphasis on sub packages and passing-down contributors. Not quite the playmaker, but is a more consistent, instinctive prospect than 2015 first-round pick Shaq Thompson.
Games watched: Nebraska (’14), Washington (’15), Notre Dame (’15)