Tagged: Outside Linebacker

OB HAYES PULLARD, SOUTHERN CALIFORNIA

OB #10 HAYES PULLARD, SOUTHERN CALIFORNIA

6’1” – 230 lbs. – 4.65e

Team captain. Started on the weakside for his first two seasons, then slid inside in 2013. Reasonably thick for his height but nonetheless appears undersized for a middle linebacker and may draw interest as a potential candidate to convert back to weakside linebacker. Typically lined up in the middle of Southern California’s defense, but played on the outside on occasion. Runs well for his position; has the speed to play sideline-to-sideline and make zone drops in coverage, sometimes from the outside linebacker spot. Looks comfortable planting and driving on routes when in coverage. Has been asked to assume coverage responsibilities on slot receivers; also looks like he would be a strong candidate to cover running backs out of the flats. Not a forceful hitter, but remembers his tackling technique and doesn’t miss many opportunities. Takes on blocks a bit better than anticipated for a player of his size, at least as a downhill player; exhibits active hand use to prevent blockers from getting into his pads. When given a clear path to the quarterback, closes fairly quickly; could be effective on delay blitzes. Contributed on special-teams units, which could offer him an avenue for rookie contributions. Doesn’t diagnose plays as quickly as you’d like; is typically not the first player to arrive at the ball, and can be fooled by misdirection. Lack of top recognition skills neutralizes his athleticism, but he does offer considerable untapped potential for the same reason. Was asked to blitz fairly regularly, but is forced to take indirect routes to the quarterback due to his lack of bulk. Capable of running with tight ends, but may be physically overmatched by some of the true inline “Y” options at the pro level. May not hold up if asked to eat blocks in a 3-4 defense; best suited to a scheme in which he’s protected by bigger defensive linemen. Has enough athleticism to make up for his lack of size and should interest teams as someone who can work in both base and sub defenses, but often finds himself out of position as a result of his below-average diagnostic abilities, which are particularly concerning given his extensive starting experience, including two years under legendary Cover-2 coach Monte Kiffin.

Games watched: Arizona (’13), Arizona St. (’13), Stanford (’13)

OB SHAQUIL BARRETT, COLORADO ST.

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6’2” – 250 lbs. – 4.85e

STATISTICAL PROFILE:

2010: 82 – 11.5 – 8.5, 3 FF, 4 BK (Nebraska-Omaha)
2011: 99 – 4.5 – 2.5, 2 QBH, 1 FF, 1 FR (1 TD), 3 PD, 1 INT (1 TD)
2012: 67 – 7.5 – 3.5, 2 QVH, 2 FF, 1 PD, 1 INT (1 TD)
2013: 80 – 20.5 – 12.0, 6 QBH, 4 FF, 2 PD, 1 INT, 3 BK

OVERVIEW:

Started ten of eleven games played at Nebraska-Omaha, then transferred to Colorado St. in 2011, after the former closed its football program. As a sophomore, started eleven of twelve games played, starting ten of twelve in the following year. Started all fourteen games as a senior, earning conference Defensive Player of the Year honors, as well as first-team recognition. Married with two sons.

POSITIVES:

•    Will graduate having started for all four seasons in school, three at Colorado State.
•    Adequate height and impressive bulk for the position, added ten pounds in school.
•    Could realistically project to outside linebacker in a 3-4 or defensive end in a 4-3.
•    Already experienced working as a stand-up pass rusher in an odd defensive front.
•    Has also worked as a traditional defensive end, rushing from a three-point stance.
•    Strong enough to take on blocks and scrape down the line when supporting the run.
•    Active hand use, does a good job of getting arm extension, disengaging from blocks.
•    Mixes in an effective inside move to complement his primary option, the bull rush.

NEGATIVES:

•    Somewhat shorter than is considered ideal for a rush linebacker prospect in a 3-4.
•    A bit stiff in his movements, more of a downhill player with marginal coverage value.
•    Also lacks extensive experience in coverage, almost always functioned as a rusher.
•    Straight-line speed also restricts range, probably a defensive end in a 4-3 scheme.
•    Bend isn’t too bad, but lacks the ability to beat pro tackles to the edge consistently.
•    When sidestepped in the pocket, has trouble redirecting back to the quarterback.

SUMMARY:

Barrett, a four-year starter in college, enjoyed his most productive season as a senior, flourishing as essentially a designated pass rusher, alternating between working as an outside linebacker and a defensive end en route to twelve sacks. Although he’s not someone whose explosiveness, length, or athleticism will warrant early-round interest, he combines his bull rush with a nice inside move and effective run defense, which should earn him late-round consideration from teams looking for a bulky, no-frills rusher with prior experience working out of a two-point stance. Looks more like a backup strongside “elephant” linebacker or left end.

OB DERRELL JOHNSON, EAST CAROLINA

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6’2” – 264 lbs. – 4.75e

STATISTICAL PROFILE:

2010: 40 – 4.5 – 1.0, 2 QBH (DE)
2011: 39 – 5.5 – 3.0, 3 QBH, 2FF
2012: 62 – 11.0 – 6.5, 8 QBH (OB)
2013: 79 – 13.0 – 7.0, 9 QBH, 3 PD, 1 INT

OVERVIEW:

Started eleven of twelve games played in 2010, then all twelve in the following season. Was named to the all-conference second team in 2012 after transitioning to linebacker when the Pirates switched their defensive scheme to a 3-4, starting all thirteen games in that year and the following one.

POSITIVES:

•    Will graduate having started the past forty-nine games at school; escalating production.
•    Possesses terrific bulk for a rush linebacker; has added nearly fifty pounds since 2010.
•    Experienced in 4-3 and 3-4 fronts; spent first two seasons in former, last two in latter.
•    Plays with impressive power; when working downhill, can win with his power/bull rush.
•    Capable of taking on blocks and making tackles away from his frame in run defense.
•    A bit more athletic than anticipated from a player with his bulk; fairly quick accelerator.
•    Has some experience in both man and zone coverage drops due to playing in a 3-4.
•    High-motor player who gets involved in plenty of plays, demonstrating quality range.
•    Exhibits an aggressive, physical on-field temperament that should impress his coaches.

NEGATIVES:

•    Ended up being just 6’1″ and 248 pounds at the Shrine Game, creating size concerns.
•    Wasn’t very productive at defensive end, didn’t work his way onto the radar until 2012.
•    Gets a little bit out of control at times and will overrun his spot, especially in coverage.
•    Has the power to set a hard edge but tends to take wide angles, leaving gap for backs.
•    Despite underrated athletic ability, is probably better as a rusher than he is in coverage.

SUMMARY:

Johnson has been a dangerous pass-rushing threat for the Pirates since the team transitioned to a 3-4 defense back in 2012, compiling 13.5 sacks and seventeen hurries over the past two years, dwarfing his production in either of the two seasons he played at defensive end. He arrived at school weighing just 218 pounds, but you’d never know it now given his impressive bulk and strength. While he has been asked to drop into coverage on occasion, he is at his best when he’s allowed to pin his ears back and use his explosiveness and power to create pressure. The raw power and physicality Johnson possesses suggest that he should be able to develop into an effective run defender, and while he is strong enough to anchor and make tackles away from his frame, he could do a better job of setting a tighter edge.

OB TYLER STARR, SOUTH DAKOTA

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6’5” – 250 lbs. – 4.85e

STATISTICAL PROFILE:

2009: Redshirt
2010: DNP (Academics)
2011: 51 – 19.0 – 14.0, 7 FF, 2 FR (DE)
2012: 74 – 7.0 – 4.0, 4 QBH, 2 FF, 2 PD, 1 BK (OB)
2013: 71 – 15.0 – 9.0, 4 FF, 4 PD, 1 INT

OVERVIEW:

Redshirted in 2009, then continued to work on the scout team in 2010 due to academic issues. Started at defensive end in 2011, leading the league in sacks en route to first-team all-conference honors. Played in all eleven games as a junior, starting ten at outside linebacker once the team transitioned to a 3-4. Was named conference Defensive Player of the Year as a senior after starting eleven of twelve games, leading the conference in sacks once again.

POSITIVES:

•    Started over the past three years, earning first-team all-conference recognition twice.
•    Tall, long-limbed player who also possesses adequate bulk, additional growth potential.
•    Has experience in both defensive fronts: played end in a 4-3 in 2011, linebacker after.
•    Can compensate for his lack of ideal speed to some extent with his decent initial burst.
•    Pretty powerful player, forceful on initial contact, whether versus blockers or tackling.
•    Avoids committing to a course of action too soon, maintains backside contain vs. run.
•    Combination of arm length, active hand use are joined by a few different rush moves.
•    Rebounded from previous academic issues, was named to the MVFC Honor Roll in ’11.

NEGATIVES:

•    Will be forced to adjust to a dramatically-improved level of competition at the next level.
•    Despite weighing 250 pounds, doesn’t anchor very well, looks much stronger downhill.
•    Awareness needs refinement; problems with misdirection, read option, locating ball.
•    Balance can be a problem; when trying to bend the edge, often ends up on the ground.
•    Probably not someone who should be used in coverage very often, certainly not man.
•    Academic issues caused him to miss the 2010 season, admitted to lacking direction.

SUMMARY:

Starr was a productive player over the past three seasons at South Dakota, but will be making a massive leap up in level of competition at the pro level. Fortunately, he possesses impressive height and length which are consistent with pro pass rushers, augmenting those characteristics with adequate bulk, relatively impressive explosion and power, and a high motor. Those factors probably won’t be enough to completely mask his athletic deficiencies, and any bulk added in a pro strength program may make those weaknesses more visible, but teams looking for a tall developmental rusher with the frame to carry more bulk may give him consideration as a late-round candidate or priority free agent assuming his background/character check out.

OB LAMIN BARROW, LOUISIANA ST.

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6’2” – 232 lbs. – 4.70e

STATISTICAL PROFILE:

2009: Redshirt
2010: 18 – 0.5 – 0.0
2011: 17 – 1.0 -0.0
2012: 104 – 7.5 – 0.0, 5 QBH, 1 FF, 1 FR, 5 PD
2013: 91 – 5.5 -1.5, 2 QBH, 2 PD

OVERVIEW:

Redshirted in 2009, then had nearly identical seasons in 2010 and 2011, with twelve games played and one start in each, working on coverage units. Started all thirteen games at weakside linebacker in 2012, an accomplishment repeated in 2013 en route to all-conference second-team honors.

POSITIVES:

•    Will graduate having assembled two productive years of starting experience in the SEC.
•    Still lacks bulk but has gained a bit of weight since playing at 221 lbs. back in 2010.
•    Possesses the overall movement skills to contribute as a blitzer, has had a bit success.
•    Solid tackler, hits with some force when he lines up his man, remembers to wrap up.
•    Has experience lining up in coverage against opposing slot options, usually in zone.
•    Against the run, uses a spin move with some effectiveness to disengage from blocks.
•    May have the versatility to play on the inside in an even front in addition to weakside.
•    Overall range/motor are solid, can make plays relatively far away from starting position.

NEGATIVES:

•    Very conservative his in zone coverage assignments, allowing plenty of separation.
•    Not someone teams will feel comfortable putting on the strongside against tight ends.
•    Doesn’t have very fluid hips, more of a straight-line mover than he is particularly agile.
•    Can be fooled by misdirection, must be more disciplined in backside responsibilities.
•    Struggles to anchor vs. the run, gets driven back easily by opposing offensive linemen.
•    Not big or powerful enough to draw much interest from teams which run 3-4 defenses.

SUMMARY:

Barrow spent the past two seasons starting at the weakside linebacker spot for the Tigers, which also represents his best position at the next level. He possesses adequate size and movement skills for the position, although he is a bit stiff. Against the run, he is more physical than your average “Will”, with impressive tackling skills and impressive range. He has been asked to cover in the slot fairly often, but can be easily victimized there due to a combination of mediocre awareness, conservative angles, and stiff hips. Teams in even fronts may like him as a swing reserve, while odd fronts may not have much use for him. Previous special teams experience should help his cause, as he appears unlikely to develop into a starter.

OB ADRIAN HUBBARD, ALABAMA*

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6’6” – 252 lbs. – 4.80e
 
STATISTICAL PROFILE:
 
2010: Redshirt
2011: 9 – 1.5 – 0.0, 1 QBH
2012: 41 – 11.0 – 7.0, 4 QBH, 3 FF, 1 PD
2013: 33 – 5.5 – 3.0, 4 QBH, 3 PD
 
OVERVIEW:
 
Redshirted in 2010, then played the “Jack” position in a reserve capacity over nine games. Took over as Alabama’s “Sam” linebacker in 2012, starting in twelve of thirteen games played.
 
POSITIVES:
 
•    Will graduate with two seasons of starting experience under a legendary defensive mind.
•    Tall with solid weight and long arms, with some additional growth potential on his frame.
•    Played at 237 pounds as a redshirt freshman and has gained bulk every year since.
•    Has rushed out of a two-point stance, but also often puts his hand on the ground to rush.
•    Gets good arm extension, allowing him to stack/shed blocks with his active hand use.
•    Quick off of the snap, especially when rushing out of a three-or-four-point stance.
•    Effective on stunts and twists, does a nice job of penetrating against guards and centers.
•    Anchors well against the run, can hold his own when matched against bigger tackles.
•    Has some experience dropping into zone coverage, with the size and length to develop.
•    Intelligent, can understand and handle various different defensive responsibilities.

NEGATIVES:
 
•    After impressing in his first season as a starter, didn’t have a productive junior campaign.
•    Build, and legs in particular, look thin and will require some time in a strength program.
•    Could be more patient in backside contain as a run defender, occasionally sucked in.
•    Gets a little bit high when making his drops, typically more of a downhill defender.
•    Tends to win more because of his aggressiveness and power than raw athletic ability.
•    Doesn’t really bend the edge too much, is generally more of a straight-line rusher.
•    Not a great tackler, more effective in terms of redirecting the play to another defender.
 
SUMMARY:
 
It may not be the best decision for Hubbard to declare after a junior season in which he was markedly less productive than he was a sophomore back in 2012, but despite his lack of impressive statistics he is a polished enough player to contribute to an NFL team sooner rather than later, given that he has been in Nick Saban’s system at Alabama for four seasons, assuming different responsibilities as the “Jack” linebacker, a defensive end/outside linebacker hybrid, while also seeing some (more limited) time as a more conventional “Sam” linebacker in even defensive fronts. His height, length, and aggressive style of play suggest that his best fit may be as a more dedicated downhill player. Something of a jack-of-all-trades, master-of-none.

OB JONATHAN BROWN, ILLINOIS

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6’1” – 230 lbs. – 4.70e

STATISTICAL PROFILE:

2010: 31 – 1.5 – 0.5, 1 FF, 1 INT (1 TD)
2011: 108 – 19.5 – 6.0, 3 QBH, 1 FF, 1 FR, 4 PD, 1 INT
2012: 59 – 9.5 – 3.5, 1 FF, 1 PD
2013: 119 – 15.0 – 5.0, 3 QBH, 1 FF, 4 PD, 1 INT

OVERVIEW:

Played in twelve games as a true freshman, contributing extensively in a reserve capacity. Started eleven of twelve games played in the following season, then started all nine games he played in as a junior, missing the final three due to a shoulder injury. Played in twelve games as a senior.

POSITIVES:

•    Was a three-year starter in a major conference; also contributed extensively in 2010.
•    Played at 230 pounds as a senior, but weighed 237 pounds during his freshman year.
•    Effective downhill player who made plenty of play in opposing backfields vs. the run.
•    Also contributed as a productive blitzer, increasing value for aggressive 4-3 defenses.
•    When attacking, had more success against opposing blockers than size would suggest.
•    Arms look longer than average for size, remembers to wrap when attempting tackles.
•    Comfortable and controlled in coverage drops, with above-average straight-line speed.
•    Lined up on the weakside in college, but may also be able to take snaps in the middle.

NEGATIVES:

•    Combination of height and weight are barely adequate for a pro linebacker prospect.
•    Not tall enough to line up against most tight ends, probably limited to covering backs.
•    Likely restricted to playing in a 4-3 defense, lacks the bulk preferred by most 3-4 fronts.
•    Doesn’t anchor very well, can be knocked off-balance by blockers; is better downhill.
•    Better when given a gap to shoot than when reacting to developments in run defense.
•    When out of position, isn’t strong enough to bring down runners through arm tackles.
•    Didn’t make many plays in coverage, getting his hands on only twelve passes in total.

SUMMARY:

An undersized linebacker who combines solid athleticism, effective gap-shooting, and sound tackling technique, Browns started on the weakside for the Illini, which doubles as his best fit as a pro. Although he’s not ideally suited to man-coverage responsibilities against opposing tight ends, he offers the ability of rush the passer and drop into zone coverage versus the pass, with effective pursuit skills as a run defender. At the next level, he would fit best in a 4-3 defense which incorporates plenty of blitzing, while teams running odd fronts will probably look elsewhere. Although he may never become a starter, he offers some value in sub packages.

OB PRINCE SHEMBO, NOTRE DAME

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6’1” – 258 lbs. – 4.80e

STATISTICAL PROFILE:

2010: 14 – 4.0 – 3.5, 4 QBH (ILB)
2011: 31 – 3.5 – 2.0, 2 QBH
2012: 51 – 10.5 – 7.5, 12 QBH, 1 PD (OLB)
2013: 48 – 5.5 – 5.5, 17 QBH, 1 FF

OVERVIEW:

Played in all thirteen games as a true freshman, functioning as a reserve linebacker. Started eight of the twelve games he played in as a sophomore, then all thirteen games as a junior in 2012, an accomplishment he replicated as a senior in 2013.

POSITIVES:

•    Will graduate having been a productive starter for the Irish over the past two seasons.
•    Possesses impressive bulk for a college linebacker, weighed 243 pounds back in 2010.
•    Played inside linebacker for two seasons before transitioning to the outside as a junior.
•    Also drops into a three-point stance on occasion, even as an end in a three-man line.
•    Has already done plenty of work in odd defensive fronts given Notre Dame’s scheme.
•    Frame makes him a candidate to work as “elephant”, setting the edge against the run.
•    Able to create some pressure with his inside move as a pass rusher; uses spin as well.
•    Demonstrates adequate footwork on zone drops, albeit from an unconventional stance.
•    Works through the play, especially when rushing the passer; no questions with motor.

NEGATIVES:

•    Shorter than your typical outside linebacker, most teams prefer players 6’3” or taller.
•    Movement skills are only adequate for a strongside linebacker, better in short-area.
•    Lack of height/athleticism make him a questionable coverage option at the next level.
•    Not particularly quick or explosive off the line, not someone who wins with speed/bend.
•    More effective at pressuring opposing passers than he is at sealing the deal with sacks.
•    Doesn’t do a great job of shedding despite active hand use, tends to stay blocked.
•    Predictable rusher, starts with bull rush then tries to spin inside to shed the blocker.

SUMMARY:

Shembo’s bulk and production over the past two years suggest that he could become a strongside linebacker for a team which runs an odd defensive front, but his tape doesn’t match his statistics. While he is an adequate run defender who has also been asked to assume various roles defensively, starting as an inside linebacker before sliding outside and even lining up at end at times, mixing in some zone drops in coverage, he lacks the height and athleticism to match up against opposing tight ends, while he is a formulaic pass rusher who leans too heavily on his spin move rather than displaying a wide repertoire of rush moves. At best, a backup strongside linebacker in a 3-4 defense who needs to diversify rush arsenal.

OB JORDAN TRIPP, MONTANA

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6’3” – 237 lbs. – 4.75e

STATISTICAL PROFILE:

2009: 23 – 0.0 0.0, 1 QBH, 2 FR, 1 PD
2010: 99 – 9.0 – 3.5, 3 FR, 4 PD, 1 INT
2011: 18 – 1.5 – 0.0, 1 FR (Redshirt)
2012: 95 – 13.5 – 5.5, 2 QBH, 4 FF, 1 FR, 3 PD, 1 INT
2013: 100 – 5.5 – 2.0, 1 QBH, 1 FF, 3 FR, 5 PD, 3 INT, 1 BK

OVERVIEW:

Contributed in a special-teams capacity as a true freshman, where he was very effective. Started all eleven games as a sophomore, finishing second on the team in tackles. Ended up redshirting in 2011 after injuring his shoulder in the third game of the season. Again finished second on the team in tackles upon returning in 2012. Started all thirteen games in 2013, being named to the all-conference first-team.

POSITIVES:

•    Was a decorated four-year starter at Montana, also played well on special teams units.
•    Listed at 6’3 ½“, also possesses adequate bulk for a weakside linebacker prospect.
•    Athleticism is adequate as a coverage man, footwork controlled if somewhat robotic.
•    Rangy, persistent enough to be involved in plenty of plays, is usually around the ball.
•    Displays some pop on contact versus blockers, willing to take on opposing linemen.
•    Patient in his zone, refrains from pursuit of quarterbacks until they’ve run past the line.
•    Defensive positioning is often similar to middle linebacker, may ultimately be best there.
•    Worked as Montana’s long snapper, could potentially save a team a roster spot there.

NEGATIVES:

•    Spent his career in the FCS; must adjust to a dramatic increase in level of competition.
•    Would need to add additional bulk in order to match up against tight ends in coverage.
•    Overall movement skills are adequate but a bit below the typical weakside candidate.
•    Plays a bit out of control, takes some sharp angles and will overrun ballcarriers at times.
•    Seems satisfied to make a hit rather than breaking down and wrapping up runners.
•    Occasionally ends up being washed down the line and past the runner’s cutback lane.
•    Season-ending shoulder injury sustained in 2011 will require further medical inspection.

SUMMARY:

Over four years, Tripp has executed various different assignments at Montana, typically making zone drops in coverage when he’s not defending the run. While his tools suggest that he could potentially play any of the three linebacker positions in a four-man front, he’s also not an ideal candidate for any of them, being a bit tighter than a typical Will, a bit smaller than a typical Sam, and not having played too many snaps inside. However, he’s a fairly instinctive player with decent measurables all around who should interest teams as a swing reserve and special-teams contributor; if he can win a snapping job in the NFL, he could save a team a roster spot.

OB CHRISTIAN KIRKSEY, IOWA

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6’2” – 235 lbs. – 4.70e

STATISTICAL PROFILE:

2010: 6 – 0.0 – 0.0
2011: 110 – 5.0 – 1.0, 2 FF, 3 PD, 1 INT
2012: 95 – 3.5 – 2.0, 1 QBH, 1 FF, 1 FR, 2 PD, 2 INT (2 TD)
2013: 104 – 5.0 – 2.5, 7 QBH, 2 FF, 1 FR (1 TD), 1 PD, 1 INT

OVERVIEW:

Appeared in eleven games as a true freshman, then took over as a full-time starter in 2011, starting all thirteen games: Iowa’s first seven contests on the weakside, and the final six at the other outside spot. Was named a permanent team captain prior to the 2012 season, in which he started all twelve games on the outside.

POSITIVES:

•    Will graduate having been a productive three-year starter for a major college program.
•    Height is adequate for the outside; has also added forty pounds of bulk since 2010.
•    Has played both outside linebacker spots for the Hawkeyes, may be able to play inside.
•    Rangy player who makes plays well outside of his area based on his impressive motor.
•    Sound diagnostic skills, lets the play unfold a before committing to a course of action.
•    Frequently lines up in the slot opposite a wide receiver or tight end, drops look smooth.
•    Can work through blockers, gets impressive pop on initial contact to control interaction.
•    Respected leader who was named a permanent team captain prior to his junior year.

NEGATIVES:

•    A bit undersized for the strong side in the NFL, looks like more of a weakside ‘backer.
•    May have some trouble size-wise against tight ends, probably better covering backs.
•    Productive because of motor/instincts; slightly less athletic than most weakside guys.
•    Offers more value in zone coverage than in man, was typically asked to do the former.
•    Hasn’t done much work on the inside, may not have a natural position in a 3-4 defense.
•    Most blocks he sheds are from backs/receivers/tight ends, may struggle vs. linemen.
•    The majority of his tackles come past the line of scrimmage, also a mediocre blitzer.

SUMMARY:

Kirksey has been a reliable starter for the Hawkeyes over the past three years, combining his adequate physical tools and reasonable athleticism with impressive recognition skills and fluid coverage ability, which has allowed him to line up in the slot regularly against opposing receivers, primarily in zone coverage. Although he is active when taking on blocks, he hasn’t been asked to work through too much traffic at Iowa, which, combined with a lack of reps on the inside, creates questions about whether or not he would be able to play in a 3-4. At the next level, he’ll probably make most of his contributions on special teams, where he’s played in college, although he could also factor in as a reserve weakside linebacker, or potentially come onto the field in sub packages to cover in the slot given his extensive experience there.