In just two years, an infant can grow into an ornery, exasperating pain in the neck. And in the same amount of time, the right coach can transform a grossly underachieving team into a championship contender. Alabama, which has risen to No. 1 in the nation in its second season under Nick Saban, is...[details]
The Good: An explosive, fluid linebacker with great footwork and ideal balance in and out of his breaks. Possesses great range in coverage with the closing speed to consistently get after the ball. Displays good pursuit and showcases sideline-to-sideline range. Is a good tackler in space and makes a lot of plays down the field vs. the pass. Gets a deep drop in zone coverage and has the range to cover the seam. The Bad: Lacks ideal height and length and never played close to the line of scrimmage. Was allowed to get a running start quite a bit vs. the run game at LSU. Is washed out of plays too easily at times. Best suited for a scheme that will let him play in space.
Positives: Nice functional play speed and athletic ability. Ranges to the sideline and can track ballcarriers from behind. Shows enough hip fluidity and agility to carry tight ends down the seam. Is alert in coverage and reacts quickly to the thrown ball. Plays under control. Negatives: Undersized and lacks bulk. Does not play strong or physical and is not a forceful striker. Played on a loaded defense and benefited from playing behind one of the college game's most talented defensive fronts. Is not very instinctive and does not have a nose for the football. Late arriving on blitzes. Diagnostic ability is slow and gets caught playing on his heels. Loses the ball on misdirection. Does not use his hands well to press off blocks and disengage. Needs to be lined up at times. Durability is an issue. Average Combine performance - ran slower than expected and recorded a 261/2-inch vertical jump, a Combine-low for inside linebackers. Summary: Is a well-respected team leader with three years of starting experience at a premier program but lacks desirable size and bulk and his instincts are not suitable to plug in and play out of the gate in the pros. His overall game lacks a physical element, and he does not offer much in the way of pass-rush ability. Does not project as an impact player at the next level and would be best playing in a 4-3 "over" front such as that of the Seahawks, where he is kept clean to flow freely to the ball. Grade: Third-to-fourth-round pick.