LB Ryan Connelly, Wisconsin

6’2” – 242 lbs. – 4.66
Rotated into the defense as a freshman, then became a regular contributor on the inside the following season, posting 59-7.0-0.0 and following that up with campaigns of 88-11.0-3.0 and 89-10.0-3.0. Tall linebacker who has played at weights ranging from the high 220s to the high 230s; looks a little bit underdeveloped but with the frame to add additional weight. Aggressive player who likes to play downhill against the run; reads keys well and made a lot of stops in opposing backfields over the past three seasons. Athletic and gets up to speed quickly, with a good closing burst on the ballcarrier; flows well to defend stretch plays and tosses. Has the speed and motor to play sideline-to-sideline. More tenacious than physical; plays with a lot of energy but isn’t as much of an enforcer. Not afraid to step into a gap on inside rushing attempts but can get swallowed up by opposing linebackers and needs to improve his overall extension and technique when stacking/shedding between the tackles; looks much better when he’s covered up by blockers and allowed to flow to the ball. Coverage duties were a little bit limited; would shade over opposing receivers at times, but generally made short zone drops or served as a quarterback spy. Effective ability to plant and drive on an attempt in front of him, but seemed to coast on his athletic ability a little bit relative to his technique; balance and footwork look a little bit lackadaisical. Also sent after the quarterback fairly often and picked up six sacks over the last two years, but doesn’t have much of an approach and relies on being schemed into open lanes. Not quite a finished product at this point, especially for a player who’s been starting for three seasons; needs to continue developing his body, use his arms and hands to deal with blockers more effectively, and clean up his technique in coverage. However, offers an interesting combination of size, energy, and athleticism which could potentially help him earn a starting role a little bit down the line; in the meantime, looks temperamentally and athletically suited to a special-teams role. Would be best in a swarming, run-and-hit defense which covers him up with blockers and allows him to take advantage of his athletic ability.

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