The Misconception Of the Leo Prospects. (OLB)
When I look at this draft class, I see the top of the draft being pass rusher heavy, and it just so happens that our biggest weakness is a passrusher at the Leo.
Everyone reads a few scouting reports and immediately become terrified to select one in the top 10. Looking at prospects like my favorite Jordan, and guys like Mingo, and Collins, they present a lot of the same strengths and weaknesses that a few of the most terrorizing OLB's in the NFL possess.
Wanna play a game? Guess who?
The following 4 scouting reports are: Dion Jordan, Clay Matthews, Bark Mingo, and Demarcus Ware.. Guess who's who?
Positives: Ascending player who may be just scratching the surface of his potential. Well-built athlete whose dedication in the weight-room is obvious in his physique. Reliable open-field tackler. Versatile defender who flashes as a natural pass rusher off the edge. Good speed upfield and has the balance and burst to redirect his rush. Good initial hand punch to pop the blocker and disengage. Good effort and speed in pursuit. Instinctive defender who played well in space as a traditional linebacker.
Negatives: Has less than a full season as a starter and only 10 career starts -- all in 2008. Surrounded by so much talent at -- that holes in his game could have been disguised. Lacks the bulk to remain at defensive end. Prefers to run around blocks rather than take them on. While he improved as the year went on, remains a work in progress in disengaging from blocks. Suffered broken left thumb against Nebraska, then fractured a metacarpal later in season, then had to have surgery after the bowl game as it did not heal properly.
He lacks the ideal frame you look for in an every-down end and could be limited to situational duties in the NFL because of his lack of bulk.
Even with his long arms, when he works in-line, he struggles to disengage when the larger blockers lock on to him. However, he shows excellent snap anticipation ability and easily eludes blockers with his initial burst into the backfield.
He shows good hand usage and extension to stave off the blockers trying to get into his chest, but if they lock on, he can be neutralized.
He has raw pass rush technique and needs to develop better counter moves, as he relies mostly on his sudden burst to make plays in the backfield.
He will need to add bulk in order to remain a down lineman, but his frame may be at maximum growth potential. If he moves to linebacker, he is better suited to operate as a weak-side rush linebacker in a 3-4 alignment in order to get value from him immediately
SRENGTHS Tall, long and explosive pass rusher who projects best as a stand-up, weakside edge rusher in the NFL. Incredible first step off the snap, can turn the corner on the outside and shimmy inside against leaning tackles. Not a contact-shy player despite his slight build, often lines up on the strong side and/or inside of tight ends in a tight alignment. Strong player setting the edge against the run. Willing to take on tackles man-up, extends his arms to keep distance and can get off to grab backs trying to get through the hole. Takes tight ends backwards into the background using his length and foot work. Works through blocks to get down the line to chase plays. Overall agility and length make him effective in coverage, can stay with running backs out of the backfield and wrap up receivers in space. Excellent straight-line speed shows when chasing down plays from behind. Uses his length and jumping ability to knock down passes if unable to reach the quarterback.
WEAKNESSES Very lean player, likely too thin in the hips to grow into an every-down defensive end. Needs to shed more consistently to prevent plays from getting outside of him. Long legs get in his way at times when trying to change directions quickly. Often gets too focused on scrapping with his blocker instead of getting his eyes in the backfield to find the ball. Did not progress in terms of pass rush moves during his career. Great player off the snap of the ball, but too often allows the offensive tackle to recover because he lacks a move to disengage
STRENGTHS Tall end/linebacker hybrid with excellent length. Definitely not contact-shy, extends his long arms to land a strong punch on blockers, can disengage to chase plays from behind or grab ballcarriers coming into his area. Also willing to mix it up when challenged. Long strides allow him to cover ground quickly when closing or after his strong get-off with his hand down, but also shows enough bend and short-area quickness to avoid linemen. Lines up against slot receivers and tight ends, managing to stay with them in the open field in spite of his size. Flashes quickness and bend to beat tackles around the corner, can counter with an inside rush or spin move. Also quick enough to flatten down the line to make plays on inside runs. Willing to stick his shoulder into a lead blocker to free up other defenders.
WEAKNESSES Might be an end/linebacker ‘tweener for some teams due to his tall, lean frame. Must improve upper-body strength to get off blocks and gain leverage against NFL-caliber linemen. His height will make it more difficult for him to get low to stop ballcarriers’ momentum or corral them in the open field. Inconsistent working through initial contact to chase plays and finding the ball in the backfield. Susceptible to cut blocks in space, must learn to see and beat them with his hands. Can get knocked off his pass rush route by a strong punch