LB Darrian Beavers, Cincinnati

6’4” – 255 lbs.

Background:

Played receiver and safety in high school. Originally attended Connecticut, where he rotated into the defense as a 216-pound freshman, going 15-3.0-3.0, then added another twenty pounds of bulk and went 23-4.5-4.0 as a sophomore. Transferred to Cincinnati and made 36 tackles as a junior, then stepped into the starting lineup and finished with 56-7.5-2.5 and two interceptions as a 242-pound senior. Was granted a fifth year of eligibility, in which he bulked up to 255 and put together his most productive season yet (100-12.0-5.0, one interception).

Positives:

 Big inside linebacker with three years of starting experience and escalating production; can also take snaps on the edge. Patient when making his reads; doesn’t take many false steps. Navigates through traffic well, with impressive short-area quickness for a player his size. Willing to take on blockers, showing good extension, contact balance, and lower-body strength; traditional thumper-type who will step into gaps and disrupt play designs. Able to set a hard edge when lined up on the outside. Angles to the ball are sound, with smooth closing and a big radius. Generates some pop on contact to help set the tone. Was used frequently as a blitzer, whether through the A-gap or as more of an edge rusher; active with his hands, shows some ability to set up blockers and bend around the edge, and can shuffle laterally to find open lanes.

Negatives:

Older than your typical prospect, as a fifth-year senior. Overall athleticism is closer to average and may not be a true sideline-to-sideline player at the next level. Could end up being more of a two-down player, as he doesn’t offer a lot of range in coverage, being used as a blitzer more often than usual, and mostly serving as a strict robber when he does drop; kind of a throwback type. Plant and drive is average at best. More opportunistic as a pass-rusher; can get stuck on blocks if no lanes are schemed open. At times, has some minor issues bending at the waist instead of the knees when taking on blocks.

Summary:

A big, physical, and instinctive linebacker who has some limitations in terms of his speed and range, traits which may limit him to a role as a two-down, run-stuffing strong inside linebacker in an odd defensive front. However, he does what he does very well: can diagnose plays, work through traffic, get physical with blockers if needed, and take sound angles to the ballcarrier, with additional value as a pass-rusher. Draft stock will depend on how many teams are still in the market for an old-school linebacker.

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