Outside Linebackers Analysis
By Dave Te Thomas
While most of the linebacking talent is at the outside position and there are a few gems to chose from here, the depth is lacking and the quality dips drastically after first few blue chippers are gone. Certain to gain first round consideration are Napoleon Harris, Raonall Smith and Robert Thomas. Harris played defensive end as a senior, but has the combination of power, size and quickness the pros love. Smith came on strong as a senior and recently was clocked at a very impressive 4.28 in the 40-yard dash. Thomas could slip to the second round, but his speed is evident and his ability to play both inside and outside makes him an inviting target.
James Allen shows strong run stuffing skills, but can get caught in the trash, at times. Akin Adoyele was touted as one of the prime draft picks earlier in the season, but just seemed to go through the motions and saw his frame develop into a min-defensive end status. Rocky Boiman was the star at the Combines at this position, yet he's never lived up to his athletic ability on the field. Larry Foote can play both inside and outside, but appears to need time to digest the action in front of him. Scott Fujita had a solid senior campaign, but the team's sorry performance in 2001 left him being unrecognized.
Late in the draft, teams could look at Alge Atkinson, Kevin Bentley, Dominique Stevenson, Brandon Moore and Nick Rogers. All have experience at more than one position, making them inviting to teams looking to add youth to their depth chart. Jashon Sykes and Will Witherspoon both have the talent to go earlier, but both have holes in their games that were exposed in post-season competition.
Looking for some free agent gems? One or two could emerge from a group headed by Courtney Buollard, Justin Smith, who could also get a look at strong safety, Aaron Thompson, Joe Cooper, who can also play the middle, Christian Rodriguez and Nate Morrow.
MAKING THE GRADE…B…Only because of the top quartet of Napoleon Harris, Raonall Smith, Levar Fisher and Robert Thomas.
Cream Of The Crop
Positives: Has a thick bone structure that can add twenty pounds with no lose in speed… Well-built athlete with long arms, thick hands and lean muscle definition…Very effective at getting to the running backs in pursuit, showing good hip snap and leg drive…Makes proper angle adjustments on the move…Flashes excellent power at the point of attack… Maintains his balance getting through the trash and has fluid lateral movements in back-side pursuit…Explodes off the snap and is a very effective wrapup tackler, breaking down the play while facing up to the opponent with explosion…Pursues the outside run with great range, using his hands effectively to gain leverage and avoid low blocks…Shows the quickness to stay with the tight ends in the mid-range passing area, using his hands properly to keep separation…Flows to the ball effortlessly, going low to get the running backs off their feet…Drives for depth on his pass drops, running to his assigned area and settling in to make the tackle…Catches the ball with hands extended from the framework.
Negatives: Needs to show a better feel for zone drops as he does not always anticipate the switch-offs…Tends to play too upright at times, getting a little frustrated when his initial moves fails to work…Bit of a strider, laboring at times to change directions…Not always decisive enough to locate the ball, as he does take false steps when biting on the quarterback's fakes…Even with his lateral agility, he is not sudden in his movements to the perimeter…Simply ran out of gas at the end of the 2001 season.
One of the most athletic defensive players in the country…Can stop the run as well as rush the quarterback or cover a wideout…Moved from outside linebacker to defensive end in 2001… Finished his career with 335 tackles (187 solos), nine sacks for minus 68 yards and 29 stops for losses of 131 yards…His 335 tackles rank seventh on the school's career-record list…Also intercepted four passes, deflected 16 others, caused four fumbles and had a pair of fumble recoveries.
REMINDS YOU OF… Joey Porter, Pittsburgh Steelers. Can become an immediate impact with his athletic combination.
GAZING INTO THE CRYSTAL BALL… Assured himself of being a first rounder after his superb Combine performance. Both the Raiders and Packers are hoping he slips until the end of the first round.
Best Of The Rest
Positives: Alert and very active keying and diagnosing the plays…Takes on blocks with aggression, showing proper hand technique to prevent the lineman from gaining leverage… Extremely physical when taking on the tight ends, delivering crunching hits to reroute his man away from the play…Has the foot agility and hip swerve to redirect and close from the outside… Shows the lateral agility to flow with the play, staying low in his stance to extend his arms, wrap and secure the ball carrier near the line of scrimmage…Excels in press coverage, possessing the strength to easily jam the receivers…Drops back decisively in pass coverage…Shows good ball anticipation skills and has developed good rip-&-swim moves to generate a quick outside blitz… Very intelligent, both on the field and in the classroom…Has impressive raw natural ability and power with rare speed for a player his size…Has the range and body control to stay with the play on deep routes…Delivers a solid hand jolt to maintain separation knifing through traffic and an explosive closing burst to disrupt the quarterback in the pocket…Looks natural in handling the switch-offs in the zone, displying the quickness (4.49 in the 40-yard dash) of a defensive back.
Negatives: Development was hampered earlier in his career by a rash of injuries (knee and shoulder)…Uses his quickness more than his strength at the point of attack (not a stack them up type)…Slow at times to react to the play coming off the snap, but has the quickness to recover and flash towards the ball with intensity.
One of the fastest linebackers in the game of football, Raonall overcame early career injury woes to establish himself as one of the most dominating defenders in the collegiate ranks…Compared to Seattle's Chad Brown for his "search and destroy" attitude on the field, he closed out his career with 214 tackles (137 solos), 5.5 quarterback sacks and 29 stops behind the line of scrimmage while starting 28 of 36 games for the Cougars.
REMINDS YOU OF… Chad Brown, Seattle Seahawks. Hits like Brown, but runs like a defensive back.
GAZING INTO THE CRYSTAL BALL… Even if the Raiders take Harris at #21, they could come back two picks later and select Smith, completing their linebacking transformation. His recent clocking of 4.28 keeps his stocking rising at almost the same rapid pace.
Positives: Athletic with good upper body muscle definition…Aggressive pass defender with good size and quickness…Has impressive acceleration and body control…Uses his hands well to defeat blocks and is very effective at keeping blockers off his feet…Has a sharp change of direction and knifes into the backfield quickly to push the pocket… Attacks aggressively and can step up and fill the hole at the line…Changes direction sharply and is very slippery coming off blocks…Extends his arms and grabs with his hands to get any piece of the ball carrier…Not afraid to take on double coverage, dipping his shoulders and leaning in to slide off the blockers…Comes hard on the outside charge and plants firmly vs. action directed in front of him…Has the agility and foot speed to drop off in pass coverage.
Negatives: Did not come into his own until 2001…Does not engage or shed well at the line of scrimmage, seeming more comfortable working in space than the box…Small frame causes him to get bounced around a bit trying to fill the gaps…Little hesitant in taking on his assignments switching off in the zone…Lacks fluidity in his hips coming out of his backpedal, appearing to be too upright to make a fluid turning motion.
A former walk-on who was awarded a scholarship in the spring of 2001…Made a tremendous impression on oppsing quarterbacks as the Tar Heels' starting strongside linebacker in 2001…Recorded 155 tackles (104 solos) with three sacks for minus 23 yards and 10 stops for losses of 37 yards during his career.
REMINDS YOU OF… John Mobley, Denver Broncos. Suddenly emerging from the pack, he only has one year of starting experience, but his speed is his main asset.
GAZING INTO THE CRYSTAL BALL… The Jets and Packers rely on quickness on the outside. Both have been doing extra homework on this kid.
Positives: Instinctive player who is aggressive to close and make plays near the line… Takes good angles to the perimeter…Shows awareness in pass coverage and has a good feel for the tight end's moves in the short area…Has the agility and acceleration to be an effective blitzer… Flashes power who stepping up to fill the rush lanes…Uses his hands well to create separation and jolt with authority…Shows the range to cut off the ball carriers on the outside…Opens his hips and displays foot agility in his backpedal, getting depth with sharp change of direction movements.
Negatives: Bit undersized for linebacker, but unlike Ian Gold (Broncos), he is not quick enough to be considered a strong safety…Struggles with the power moves of blockers working inside and appears to be a weakside linebacker due to his ability to work in space and attack the ball… Needs to extend his hands better to control the tight ends, as he is very susceptible to the chop block…Does not have the frame to hold up to the pounding middle linebackers take…Shows some agility when blitzing, but poor hand usage prevents him from shedding consistently…Good wrapup tackler, but lack discipline in this area, as he struggles to break down in space (compensates with his chase speed to the perimeter).
Tough tackler who has been a valuable performer at the middle linebacker position since arriving on campus as a freshman…The Football News' National Defensive Player of the Year and Butkus Award semi-finalist gained national attention as a senior…Started 28 of 48 games he appeared in for the Wolverines…Finished with 212 tackles (145 solos), eleven sacks for minus 81 yards and 44 stops for losses of 155 yards…Only Glen Steele (45, 1994-97), Curtis Greer (48, 1976-79) and Mark Messner (70, 1985-88) had more stops behind the line of scrimmage in school history…Intercepted three passes and deflected 18 others.
REMINDS YOU OF… Shelton Quarles, Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Like Quarles, he gets by on his smarts. Like Quarles, he may be better suited for an inside position.
GAZING INTO THE CRYSTAL BALL… Would be rated higher as an inside linebacker. His lack of height and power cause me to believe that he will struggle in pass coverage.
First Day Possibilities
Positives: Shows proper use of hands to separate and shed low blocks…Chases hard to track down the outside run…Intense hitter who comes down the line hard in backside pursuit…Keeps his balance while showing the ability to drop and play in space…Strong inside blitzer who gets good separation when engaging the blocker…Recognizes the plays quickly and has the leg drive to close on the ball…Works well in the open, needing room to roam in order to make the tackles.
Negatives: Needs better weight room dedication, as his body appears soft and lacking lean muscle development…Goes low in his stance too much, which prevents him from keeping balance vs. the inside run…Will take strong arm swipes, but generally will not use his hands much to jam the tight ends…Bit stiff in his pass drops, appearing too narrow in the legs to get fluidness in transition…While strong, he does not always show physical power behind his tackles, as he will take on the wrong shoulder when engaging the lead blocker…More of a wait-&-catch type of tackler than one who initiates contact…Lacks the hip flexibility and quickness to be effective in man coverage…Shows a marginal break on the ball and is slow to react to the receiver in the zone…Adequate blitzer who needs to show more explosion penetrating the backfield…Tends to run around blockers rather than engaging them head-on…Does not have ideal size for this position to effectively play over the tight end…His minimal burst and smallish size limits him to a one-gap system.
Demonstrated that he is one of the best linebackers in the nation…A semi-finalist for the Dick Butkus Award the last two seasons, presented to the nation's top linebacker, he possesses all of the tools one looks for in a great player…His attributes include great speed, explosiveness and quickness…Robert shows the ability to fill the hole to stop the run, roam from sideline to sideline and cover receivers…His experience and leadership were a great asset to the defensive unit… The three-year starter finished his career with 293 tackles (198 solos), eight sacks for minus 44 yards and 41 stops for losses of 124 yards…His 293 tackles rank twelth on the school's all-time record list…His 41 stops behind the line of scrimmage are topped only by Carnell Lake (45.5, 1985-88) in Bruins annals.
REMINDS YOU OF… Dexter Coakley, Dallas Cowboys. A little taller than Coakley, but he plays at the same high intensity level.
GAZING INTO THE CRYSTAL BALL… Some teams walked away unimpressed due to a lack of size. Others rate him a third rounder. If he was a few inches taller, there would be no hesitation labeling him as a first rounder. Look for Houston to be smart and take a gamble on him in the second.
Positives: Has the bone structure to carry an additional twenty pounds with no loss of quickness…Has very quick instincts to read and react…Moves through traffic with force, able to locate the ball in an instant…Makes great use of his strong upper body, able to deliver a crunching hand jolt when shedding…Uses his hands to sift through traffic, showing a sharp burst when accelerating off the edge…Has the balance and body control needed to avoid low blocks… Has good zone awareness, showing good depth on his drops…Sound tackler who lowers his shoulder properly before delivering the hit…Quickly fills the inside rush lanes, displaying balance as he moves down the line in pursuit…Has a crisp, controlled backpedal, opening his hips properly to turn on the ball…Takes good angles working in space…Has the flexibility to counter blocks when attempting to close on the quarterback…Plays low to the ground, playing with classic wrapup tackle technique.
Negatives: Little undersized, and this poses problems at times, as the bigger blockers generally cover him up…Lacks the bulk to stay inside, so he must play off the line in order to be effective… Tries to run through blocks and does not have the strength to develop consistency as a blitzer… Gets tied up at times and is slow to shed…Falls off tackles working in space, as he seems to be unaware of the receivers moves through routes.
Four-year starter who led the nation in tackles per game average the last two seasons… Regarded as the best athlete on the team, he boasts the highest strength and conditioning points total (bench press, squat, power clean, dips, pull-ups) on the 2001 Wolfpack squad…One of the most vocal characters you will ever find on the football field, Lavar has more than backed up his "chatter" over the years, totaling a school career-record 492 tackles (276 solos), topping the previous mark of 457 by Damien Covington (1991-94)… Registered 12 sacks for minus 90 yards, 33 stops for losses of 147 yards and 21 quarter- back pressures…His 12 sacks are tied for ninth while his 33 stops behind the line of scrimmage are topped only by Tyler Lawrence (38, 1990-93) and Carl Reeves (45, 1991-94) on the school's all-time record list…Caused nine fumbles, recovered six others and had 15 pass deflections…Only Jesse Campbell (15, 1988-90) caused more fumbles in Wolfpack annals…His six fumble recoveries are surpassed only by Fernandus Vinson (7, 1987-90) on the team's career-record chart…Had at least ten tackles in 27 of 45 games he has played in.
REMINDS YOU OF… Mike Peterson, Indianapolis Colts. Like Peterson, he loves to talk trash, but they both know how to back it up.
GAZING INTO THE CRYSTAL BALL… He has that ease-of-movement agility than makes him a natural playing on the weakside. Look for the Jets and the Rams to consider him strongly in the second round.
Positives: Has the perfect linebacker's physique - a solid build with a firm stomach, broad shoulders and strong legs…Stays on his feet and makes plays moving down the line…Uses his hands with force to jolt the blockers back and also in redirecting and jamming the tight ends at the line…Has quick feet and a fluid backpedal dropping off in pass coverage…Shows the range to string plays wide, which is very effective when covering runners coming out of the backfield… Shows aggression filling the rush lane, lowering his head and driving with his legs to engage the fullback…Can play either the Sam or Mike position…Generally in position to make plays…Takes on the bigger blockers well, playing at the proper pad level with good knee bend…His hand usage prevents tight ends from gaining advantage on the outside…Has the short area speed to make plays in space, displaying the lateral flow neeed to get to the ball…Reliable tackler who can break down and face up…Has the fluid hip rotation to stay with receivers outside the box…Will settle with speed to close and make plays working the zone.
Negatives: Needs to be more physical vs. the inside run, as he has problems getting through the trash…Can be fooled at times by play action…More of a containment type, as he does not always spot the proper lanes to blitz…Lacks natural hands, body catching the ball, which results in more drops than interceptions…Plays too tentative at times, showing a habit of trying to run around blocks…Despite his strength, he does get engulfed by the larger blockers…Stiff in his movements working in space, appearing to have better straight-line quickness…While he can locate the ball, it does take him time to digest the action (does not play with a high motor).
Team captain and three-year starter, answering the opening gun in 35 of the team's last 37 contests…Team representative who is another in a line of standout linebackers to perform for the Wildcats in recent years, following Jeff Kelly and Mark Simoneau as the leader of the KSU defensive unit…Finished with 216 tackles (147 solos), 13.5 sacks for minus 75 yards and 46 stops for losses of 166 yards…Only Kelly (47, 1997-98), Simoneau (52, 1996-99), Darren Howard (54, 1996-99) and Reggie Singletary (60, 1981-83) had more stops behind the line of scrimmage at Kansas State…Also deflected 11 passes and caused three fumbles while recovering another.
REMINDS YOU OF… Keith Newman, Buffalo Bills. Smart and disciplined, with great range. Uses his hands with force to shed blocks.
GAZING INTO THE CRYSTAL BALL… Baltimore loves him for their new 3-4 defense, but the Jets could opt to go for him earlier than expected, if Fisher is gone.
Positives: Has a well-defined chest and arms…Gets to the ball in a flash, instantly diagnosing and reading the plays…Shows proper hand usage to shed the tight end and string the plays wide…Displays fluid lateral agility, forcing and chasing to make the plays near the sidelines… Gets through traffic quickly and shows good lateral agility…Holds his ground firmly at the point of attack…Has the hip flexibility to get to the zone and point drops with ease…Possesses the quick feet need to turn and maintain contact on the ball in flight…Settles in the short area, reacting with force to stuff the underneath pass…Will catch with hands properly extended…Comfortable blitzing off the edge…Steps up and attacks with strength when asked to plug the holes…Very effective taking blocking angles from behind, in order negate the ground game behind the line of scrimmage.
Negatives: 2000 wrist injury prevented him from working out in the weight room during the off-season…Needs to add bulk to his frame, as he's still too light, resulting in him getting bounced around quite a bit when he attempts to stack and shed…Push-back type of defender whose lack of strength inside could dictate a move to the outside in the pros… Lacks the forceful hand jolt to jam the tight ends in press coverage…Hands are very suspect, resulting in several sure interceptions becoming pass deflections, as the ball bounces off his chest…More comfortable tackling in space, as he tends to stay too high in his stance to effectively wrap and secure…Gets clogged up too much on his inside charge, as his light frame causes blockers to ride him wide… Not the smash-mouth type tackler you'd expect, relying more on angle technique in order to flush out the quarter- back…Stopped too often on his inside burst and is more suited to blitz from the outside.
Became the first Sooner linebacker to earn All-American honors since Joe Bowden in 1991…Has added more than 35 pounds to his frame since arriving on campus as a freshman…Also increased his bench press more than 50 pounds and his vertical jump three inches…Finished his career with 411 tackles (242 solos)…Only Rod Shoate (420, 1972-74), Jackie Shipp (477, 1980-83) and Daryl Hunt (506, 1975-78) had more tackles in a career at Oklahoma…Registered 13 sacks for minus 88 yards and 57 stops for losses of 176 yards during his time with the Sooners… His 57 stops behind the line of scrimmage established a school career-record, surpassing the previous mark of 46.5 by Cedric Jones (1992-95)…Also deflected 25 passes, recovered six fumbles and caused four others.
REMINDS YOU OF… Shawn Barber, Philadelphia Eagles. Makes up for a lack of brute strength with instincts and intelligence.
GAZING INTO THE CRYSTAL BALL… The Packers like his style of play, likening him to former Green Bay standout Brian Williams, but his lack of strength still sees him sitting around until the third round.
Second Day Possibilities
Positives: Has a chiseled upper body with room to add more bulk…Shows good field vision and ball anticipation skills…Uses his hands well to take on and shed blocks… Knows how to reroute and disengage from the tight end in the short area…Plays with good leverage, showing good lateral agility in pursuit, making plays at the opposite end of the field…Sifts through trash quickly and has that sudden burst to penetrate…Will face up to the larger blockers with no hesitation… Shows natural and fluid moves dropping back in pass coverage…Comes off blocks quickly to make the plays…Comes off the edge sharply and closes fast on the ball carrier behind the line.
Negatives: Gets turned around some when redirecting inside as he tends to lose leverage by leaning into blocks with his wrong shoulder…Takes bad angles working inside the box, appearing more comfortable chasing down to make the tackle…Has had back problems in the past…Has very thin ankles and slender calves.
Regarded by many as one of the premier defensive players in the Pac-10 Conference, the three-year starter plays with child-like enthusiasm that quickly rubbed off on his team-mates…Finished his career with 197 tackles (133 solos), seven sacks for minus 53 yards and 20b stops for losses of 86 yards…Caused three fumbles, deflected seven passes and intercepted two others.
REMINDS YOU OF… Lew Bush, Kansas City Chiefs. Even though he plays on the weak side, he is very effective rerouting the tight ends.
GAZING INTO THE CRYSTAL BALL… Should not be around too long on the draft's second day, but a so-so senior campaign cost him a chance of going in the first three rounds.
Positives: Well-proportioned, smooth muscle type of athlete with superb upper body tone…Uses his overall power effectively when shedding, keeping his hands active to protect blockers from his legs…Delivers a strong shock and jolt with his arms upon contact…Fine perimeter chaser, showing the acceleration ability to catch ball carriers down at the sidelines…Shows good flow moving laterally, displaying the hip snap needed to sharply turn out of his backpedal…Sinks his hips and stays flat-footed bursting through the pile, keeping his motor running in pursuit of the quarterback on the blitz…Can punch and extend to control the tight ends in the short area…Good at avoiding and clearing out blocks to get to the ball…Flashes hands quickly and has a few inside moves when shooting the gaps.
Negatives: Added weight (15 pounds) seemed to slow down his forward burst a little bit in 2001 (seemed to have run out of gas late in the year-see Indiana, Notre Dame and Washington State stats)…Not really that explosive on contact, relying on his strength to get a push off the tackles… Plays too high to consistently hold the point inside…Gets his hands on the blocker quickly, but is very slow to shed…Has poor hand fundamentals (lack of rip-&-swim moves) when attempting to fight pressure…Hard tackler, but needs body control upon arrival, as he does tend to over-pursue…Not naturally instinctive, making plays on sheer athletic ability rather than quickly diagnosing them…Will get caught "In the wash" some when trying to contain the inside run…Will wrap tackle in closed quarters, but generally grabs when working in space.
Three-year starter as a rush end for the Boilermakers…Joined the program after beginning his career at Coffeyville (Kan.) Community College (non-qualifier coming out of high school)…Tied with Jeff Zgonina (1989-92) for second on the school's career-record list with 29 quarterback sacks, topped only by Roosevelt Colvin (33, 1995-98)…Ranks fourth in Purdue annals with 54 stops behind the line of scrimmage, surpassed only by Keena Turner (58, 1976-79), Colvin (61) and Zgonina (72)…Finished his career with 194 tackles (131 solos), five fumble recoveries, four forced fumbles and 11 pass deflections.
REMINDS YOU OF… Chris Claiborne, Detroit Lions. Just think he's a defensive end trapped in a linebacker's body.
GAZING INTO THE CRYSTAL BALL… Just seems to go through the motions at times. His athletic ability will get him drafted higher than his 2001 performance indicates.
Positives: Tight-skinned with good muscle development and big hands…Closes with speed… Fills the rush lane quickly and uses his hands effectively to jolt and jab the tight ends to create separation…Will collide and wrap properly, showing fluid hips dropping back in pass coverage… Has the sharp initial burst to get upfield…Flashes explosion inside, displaying the proper technique punching and extending with his arms…Stays on his feet, showing good agility to get through the trash…Fluid moving in space and has the chase speed to work well on the perimeter…Has a relentless motor coming off the edge on the blitz.
Negatives: Needs to see the play first before reacting (does not do this instinctively)… Does not have the upper body power to defeat combo blocks and spends too much time battling rather than trying to get through traffic…Has a feel for rush angles, but struggles to shed vs. the bigger blockers…Progress was hampered earlier in his career as he was used as an undersized defensive end…Struggles to stack, hold and control at the point of attack, needing to add more strength to his upper body…Does not use his hands to protect his body, allowing blockers to get into his chest too quickly…Does not show the lateral mobility to side0-step low blocks…More of a trailer-type in pass coverage, lacking the foot speed to mirror the receiver's moves…Not that quick to react to the plays, showing a limited feel for the ball working in the zone…While he is an effective wrapup tackler, he fails to break down plays consistently and is known to over-pursue at times.
Blue-collar type who served as one of four team captains in 2001…Moved into the starting lineup during his sophomore season…Intense defender whose pass-rush skills are his strong suit… Added a fiery, passionate attitude to the defensive unit as his enthusiasm and game-day demeanor helped set tone for major defensive improvement by Irish in the last two years… Originally came in as free safety but made a quick transition to linebacker with immediate gains in weight and strength…Retains size, range and frame to help in coverage situations, even against wide receivers …Possesses great drive to go with an enthusiastic style…Finished his career with 144 tackles (75 solos), 8.5 sacks for minus 56 yards and 20 stops for losses of 65 yards…Also recovered five fumbles.
Positives: Very alert with the strength to shed…uses his hands effectively to jam, control and reroute the tight ends…Reaches well to contain the outside run, displaying the lateral agility to string plays wide and is especially effective on the play option…Has the range and intensity to pursue plays away from his area…Maintains contact with the back in the short area passing game…Shows good movement skills dropping back into the zone… Has a quick closing burst into the backfield…Drag-down tackler who stays low in his stance and drives with his legs…Very competitive in the weight room.
Negatives: Latches onto the tight end too much and struggles to disengage…Not much of a blitzer, due to his problems extending his arms properly to defeat blocks…Takes poor angles when asked to shoot the inside gaps…More comfortable working in space, as he seems tentative when having to face up to the larger blockers…Can stay with the tight ends and backs in the short area, but does not show the burst needed to defend vs. the deep ball…Closes hard on the quarterback, but needs a free shot (can't play off blocks) in order to be effective…2001 off-season conditioning program was hampered due to neck surgery.
The former walk-on joined the program as a 210-pound free safety, shifting to outside linebacker the following year after earning a scholarship…Two-year starter who added fifteen pounds of muscle to his frame prior to his senior campaign…A key member of Cal's special teams through-out his career, he is an intelligent player who received the Frank Storment Award as the team's outstanding student-athlete from Southern California last December…Finished his career with 124 tackles (92 solos), seven sacks and 21 stops for losses of 67 yards.
Positives: Has the lateral agility to string plays wide…Plays with some leverage and can press off blocks…Very effective blitzer off the edge, playing better when flowing to the play…Looks faster than his 4.75 clocking…Shows the hip swerve and turning ability to drop with good angles defending the pass in the short area…Shows quickness getting off the line and the speed to close as a nickel rusher…Drives with his legs, extending his arms well to stack blockers at the line.
Negatives: Very tentative diagnosing the plays…Lacks the intelligence to handle a lot of plays… Doesn't stay square, preferring to jump around blocks…shows inconsistency breaking down and facing up when tackling…Rarely will run through blocks, preferring to avoid contact…Has problems dropping off in the intermediate-to-long passing area…Has problems controlling and separating from tight ends in the short area…Lets the blockers get their hands into his chest too much, taking him off balance…Has an attitude problem (chip on his shoulder) and off-field problems (assaulted a girl and outstanding tickets) in his past.
Played in 45 games, earning 29 starts as a Jayhawk…Holds the school's career-record with 24 sacks and ranks third with 35 stops behind the line of scrimmage…Finished his career with 190 tackles.
Positives: Strong taking on blocks and holding his ground…Shows no wasted movements in his reads…Does a nice job of keeping his feet moving and extending his hands to shed…Disciplined runner who is very adept at locating the ball… Shows solid redirection as he laterally pursues the play…Can get low and drive to jolt the ball carriers back in run support…Uses his hands well to avoid low blocks.
Negatives: Needs work in zone coverage, showing hesitation making the switch-off…Lacks awareness in space and will overextend trying to recover when beaten in the short area…Comes out a little too upright in his backpedal, resulting in him not getting a fluid turning motion towards the ball… Does not step up to meet contact, possibly due to his lack of leg drive.
Emotional leader of the Wildcats defense…Three-year starter who plays as if he's on a "search and destroy" mission…Recorded 390 tackles (151 solos) with six sacks and 33 stops for losses of 133 yards during his career.
Positives: Has good overall body structure, with compact and defined arms, thighs and calves… Has a sharp burst to the ball, showing proper hand technique to maintain contact on the tight end in press coverage…Physical tackler who takes on blocks aggressively… Shows effective edge rush ability…Makes plays on the move and has the speed to close in pursuit…Moves well laterally, keeping his shoulders squared.
Negatives: Very tight in his pass drop movements…Does not do an effective job of handling the larger blockers at the line in run support…Has to show better hand usage in order to escape blocks…Not quick in his initial reaction…Needs to protect his legs better, as he tends to stand too upright…Has had a series of injuries that leaves one questioning his durability…Needs to be pushed in order to play up to his ability, but is well-liked by the coaches.
Moved from his position of two seasons (middle linebacker) to outside linebacker as a junior… Has good bloodlines, as his brother, Rob, was a standout receiver for the Arizona Cardinals… Has represented the football team on the OU Student Athlete Advisory Board… Finished his career with 143 tackles (76 solos), three sacks for minus 20 yards and 12 stops for losses of 39 yards…Caused two fumbles and recovered another while also deflecting three passes.
Positives: Has a lean, upper body muscular development and cut quadriceps and calves… Shows the strength needed to step up and take on blockers vs. the inside ground game…Has the quickness to cut off the outside rush…Solid open field wrap up tackler who stays low in his stance…Shows sudden moves dropping and leveling off in the zone… Shows an explosive closing burst and proper timing when flushing out the quarter- back after bouncing off his blocks.
Negatives: Very selfish player who is not well-liked by the coaches and teammates due to his surly (me first) nature…Disappears for long stretches during the game and shows little consistency in his game…Can adjust on the move, but tends to have only marginal read and react ability…Has trouble getting off the low blocks due to improper hand usage… His "short arms" result in him getting covered quickly, showing little shed skills…Lacks proper hand technique needed to reroute the tight ends at the line of scrimmage…Can cut off the outside run, but seems sluggish in his lateral pursuit, lacking that explosive initial step…Generally replaced in man coverage passing situations due to his lack of flexibility turning out of his backpedal…Has poor hands attempting the interception, tending to body catch the ball…Likes to step around blocks rather than engaging…Latest neck injury could cause some medical concerns…May have a hard time grasping a complicated play book (see Wonderlic score).
Four-year starter who saw his final season get cut short due to a herniated disc in the upper neck area…The school was attempting to request an additional year of eligibility from the NCAA, but Jashon decided to opt for his dream of playing in the National Foot- ball League…Finished his career ranked tenth on the school's all-time record list with 330 tackles (212 solos) and tied for fifth with seven forced fumbles…Also made 12.5 sacks for minus 62 yards and 33 stops for losses of 97 yards…Credited with 34 third-down stops and recovered four fumbles…Intercepted two passes and deflected eight others.
Positives: Lean, muscular athlete with broad shoulders and long limbs…Durable player who quickly reacts to the play and closes sharply on the ball…Has solid pass coverage skills, using his hands properly to hold up and press the tight ends at the line of scrimmage…Quick and decisive closing on the ball, showing the speed to pursue the outside runners…Has a sharp burst closing on the ball and moves fluidly down the line… Turns and mirrors backs coming out in the short area passing game…Drops off smoothly in the zone, displaying the instincts to instantly react to the ball in flight…Very well-liked and colorful character who is a high effort player whose motor never quits…Has the hip flexibility to shadow receivers…Hunts down the ball from across the field and changes direction sharply to chase down the runner.
Negatives: Lacks the bulk needed to consistently stack up the inside ground game…Struggles to shed and play off blocks, as he does not extend his arms properly to gain separation…Can be an explosive tackler when unblocked, but tends to spend too much time trying to outmuscle the larger linemen…Effective blitzer, but does not have the rip-&-swim moves needed to avoid blocks when closing…Arrives late on the play when trying to penetrate…Needs to add bulk to his frame, as his power and impressive weight room performance will disappear on the football field…Lack of bulk, combined with his good foot speed may be better suited for strong safety at the pro level.
Explosive tackler who has been a mainstay in the linebacking unit since midway through his sophomore campaign…Started 24 of 39 regulkar season games he's appeared in for the Bulldogs…Finished his career with 211 tackles (136 solos), 3.5 quarterback sacks and 14 stops for losses of 62 yards.
Positives: Very quick and active run stuffer…Stays under control knifing through the line of scrimmage…Has good strength to take on the fullback to fill the rush lanes…Uses his hands well when covering the tight ends and running backs in the short area passing game…Has the quickness to string plays wide and prevent the long gain around the outside corner…Adjusts to the flow of traffic and has fluid lateral agility…Could shift to fullback at the pro level…Shows aggression battling low blocks…Has the range to cover ground and make the plays…Turns his hips and drops off into zone coverage with ease…Active blitzer with the acceleration to flush the quarterback out and the power to unload crunching hits.
Negatives: Has difficulties handling multiple blockers, lacking the strength to stack up the pile… Gets sloppy in his hand usage while attempting to shed…Very hesitant in his man coverage, lacking confidence in his quickness to get to the ball…Rarely takes chances and tends to play too conservative, at times…Lets the blocker get into his chest too much…Has the hand strength to pull down the ball carrier, but leads with his shoulders too much to be effective wrapping up… Does not have the natural hands needed for the interception.
A two-year starter at middle linebacker, Dominque overcame off-season foot surgery rank second on the team in tackles as a senior…Originally recruited as a running back, he moved to the defensive side of the ball as a redshirt freshman…Finished his career with 231 tackles (149 solos). 6.5 sacks for minus 65 yards and 20 stops behind the line of scrimmage in three seasons as a starter with the Volunteers.