LB David Long Jr., West Virginia*

5’11” – 227 lbs. – N/A
Redshirted, then saw his production escalate on a season-by-season basis: went 63-4.5-2.0 the next season, 75-15.5-3.5 in nine games as a sophomore (sustained a preseason injury), and then 108-19.5-7.0 as a junior before declaring for the draft. Undersized weakside linebacker but with what appear to be long arms. Tackling machine who plays fast downhill and loves to come up and deliver hits; good level of energy and aggression for a pro linebacker. Has the speed to make tackles from sideline to sideline, whether in terms of defending outside rushing attempts or coming over to deliver hits in the screen game. Takes some risky angles but has the ability to reach spots anyway. Perhaps because of his low center of gravity and relatively long arms, actually handles contact better than anticipated for a player with his size; gets good extension and displays a high level of activity with his hands. Generates plenty of pop into contact to help set the tone defensively; however, could do a better job of breaking down and using wrap tackling technique instead of delivering hits with his body. Instincts can be a little hit-or-miss; commits quickly to a course of action and has the speed to reach plenty of spots, but will take himself out of some plays. On passing downs, is able to anticipate snap counts and squeeze through gaps into the backfield as an A-gap blitzer, as evidenced by his seven sacks this past season, but often serves as more of a quarterback spy, looking for clear lanes to rush and preventing opposing quarterbacks from fleeing the pocket and picking up yardage with their feet. Fast enough to cover running backs releasing out of the backfield on passing downs. Looks fluid flipping his hips and covering ground on zone drops or when carrying receivers into other zones in pattern-match, although shading over slot receivers wasn’t a major element of his responsibilities during the games reviewed. Biggest weakness is his susceptibility to being sucked up by play-fakes. Also lacks the size to match up in man coverage on most tight ends. Very likable player who is small for even the modern game, but who plays with more power than anticipated and brings the type of energy and athleticism teams look for in a free-flowing weakside linebacker. Fairly simple coverage duties in college may force him to begin his career on special-teams, which he would be very well-suited to.

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