Scouting The Draft: Ricky Sapp OLB, Clemson
on Feb 8, 2010 6:20 AM EST
Finally getting around to Ricky Sapp. I know a few people here are very high on him, and his stock seems to continue to rise on a weekly basis. I didn't see much of him in 2009, mainly because the ACC is not a conference I really enjoy watching outside of the two Tech teams and occasionally Miami. Saying that, ever since people started raving about him, I have been researching him, and he does look like quite an exciting prospect.
I try and bring you some quotes on the player in each of these scouting reports, but Ricky Sapp actually wrote a few articles as part of his training for the combine and this gives us a look at his mentality and also explains the reason why he chose not to participate in the Senior Bowl which was heavily criticized by some. So I thought I would change it up here, and post some thoughts directly from the former Clemson Tiger
The Senior Bowl was (Saturday), and I decided not to participate. I know a lot of people were wondering about that. And the reason why I didn’t play is because I felt like I have a lot more work to do to get my knee stronger and ready for the combine, and I just did not want to take any chances. Yes, I missed out on a great opportunity to play with all the great seniors from this season, but I felt like that was the best decision for me.
Sapp missed some time towards the end of the 2008 season after tearing his ACL in his right knee, although he looked strong and unaffected during his 2009 season. So it's interesting to hear him say that he feels like he needs to get his knee stronger, heading in to the combine. Some have speculated that because his coverage skills are questionable, transitioning from a 4-3 DE, to a 3-4 OLB, he didn't want to hurt his stock in the coverage drills at the Senior Bowl. I don't know how truthful that is though, and it seems reasonable to me that he wouldn't want to risk injury on a knee weeks before the biggest few days of his life with the combine and NFL draft. Also his coverage skills are going to be tested pre-draft anyway on his pro day, so I think people may be reaching with criticism.
2006- 13 games played, 20 tackles, 6 tackles for a loss, 4 sacks
2007- 12 games played, 44 tackles, 9.5 for a loss, 6 sacks, 1 forced fumble
2008- 10 games, 25 tackles, 9.5 for a loss, 2.5 sacks
2009- 14 games played, 60 tackles, 15 tackles for a loss, 5 sacks, 1 forced fumble
Career Awards & Achievements
2005 High School All-American (USA Today
2006 Freshman All-American Honourable Mention (Scout)
2009 Second Team All ACC
So what does Ricky Sapp do well?
Sapp has one of the quickest initial burst off the snap in college football, if lineman are not on their toes he will be around you before you get into any kind of blocking stance. Has a variety of moves that he uses to get around blockers, is most definitely not a one trick pony. Sapp has excellent open field speed, and has instincts for the where the ball is going, can penetrate into the backfield and bring the ball carrier down, or move laterally with the line to seal the edge. Has an excellent motor and will/can run down anyone who happens to get past him. Has very long arms and although he doesn't hit with much force, he is a solid wrap up tackler. Has his head on straight and his work ethic has often been commended. Is a pass rush specialist, and his position is the 3-4 OLB.
What does Ricky Sapp need to work on?
Because he played as a 4-3 DE, his coverage skills are unknown at this point, rarely was he asked to track players at Clemson. Although he did stand up in the 4-3 quite frequently, he is used to moving from the 2 point instead of the 3 point stance which is good for a 3-4 team, not so much for a 4-3 one. His size is still a little too light, weighed in at 240lb's, and will likely need to bulk up a little at the next level. Doesn't consistently get off blocks, as he doesn't have the strength against bigger lineman. Can be too aggressive, and over pursues the ball, needs his speed to track back and make a tackle he could of made a lot easier with more discipline. With quicker NFL lineman it's questionable if his speed will translate as well, as he goes around the blocks and not through them.
Sapp has a lot of ability but has a few question marks as a 3-4 OLB. If we did select him, would trust that he came through coverage tests with flying colours as that remains the biggest mystery for me, it's impossible to grasp because there just is no film because he hasn't done it. I like his burst and his open field quickness, and his instincts for the direction of a play make me believe that he would be a decent coverage guy. So if that is the case, we could do worse than select Sapp if he was there. He is a 3-4 rush prospect, and I don't doubt that he can get to the QB on the next level.