Scouting Report written by: Eric Stoner
A short, compact, and explosive linebacker with the frame to add weight. Primarily lined up as the weakside linebacker in a traditional even 4-3 front (with a 4-2 nickel sub package). Also lined up at the strong side vs certain offensive sets and at the middle linebacker for a handful of plays while filling in for the injured starter. Played well and generally made good reads at all three linebacker spots. Walked out in man coverage and consistently ran vs joker TEs, slot WRs, and split out RBs. Made calls and checks at the line of scrimmage. An extremely versatile player who fits best as a weakside linebacker in a 4-3, but could theoretically play all three spots, as well as the weak inside linebacker spot in a 3-4 (provided he adds more weight to his frame). In order to play the inside spots, however, he will need big bodies to protect him up front.
Extremely disciplined reading the offensive line instead of the backfield. Recognizes play action when offensive line fails to sell the run. Consistently sniffs out screen passes to both backs and receivers. Explodes out of his stance downhill – no false steps, always gains ground. Able to run with crossing wide receivers, detatched joker tight ends, and running backs in man coverage with relative ease and displays excellent recovery skills. Awareness to play the ball in the air once the receivers’ eyes and hands go up. Has the speed to undercut crossing routes for interceptions. An excellent spy against athletic quarterbacks and is a disciplined player vs the bootleg. Incredible speed (both first step and closing) as an inside blitzer, consistently finding rushing lanes and disrupting the quarterback. When filling downhill, is able to beat blockers like a pass rusher – gets underneath, plays with leverage, is slippery, flexible, can get skinny, never stops moving, and is difficult to (illegally) hold. Reads the end man on the line of scrimmage through the center correctly most of the time, making him an excellent defender vs Power; trust his offensive line keys and that combined with his explosive speed allows him to beat blockers and meet spilled runners at the line of scrimmage. Generally maintains inside/out leverage in pursuit. Relentless motor. Drives his hips and explodes through contact.
Can really struggle vs inside and outside zone, getting washed out or cut off in traffic from the backside. Also tends to lunge at the ballcarrier through the cutback lane. Struggles when he can not beat blockers to the point of attack with speed – takes on kickout and isolation/lead blocks with the incorrect shoulder, opening running lanes. Will he wear down if he is consistently run at? Will throw shoulders and launch his body without consistently wrapping up. Has quick hands and attempts to re-route pass catchers, but can he consistently disrupt and win downfield against much bigger NFL tight ends? Plays the ball in the air, but won’t always stay in-phase with the man he’s covering – if he misses the swat/interception attempt, he is puts himself out of position to tackle his man.