Monday, April 28, 2014

Top Prospects by Position

4-3 Linebackers
Courtesy of Justin Rasile

1) Ryan Shazier, Ohio State Buckeyes
Career Stats: 317 Tackles, 45.5 Tackles for Loss, 15 Sacks, 9 Forced Fumbles
Height: 6'1                 Weight: 237 lbs.
40 Yard Dash: DNP
Bench Press: 25 Reps

Watching Shazier makes you excited about what this kid can do at the next level. He is the prototypical outside linebacker in the NFL standing at 6'2 and 235 pounds. He drives his feet upon contact and genuinely enjoys hitting people. He is fast, quick, and agile and proved it on and off the field. He flies towards the ball but still remains balanced enough that if the ball carrier makes a quick cut, he can make the adjustment and still finish the play. By the way, he also ran a sub 4.4 forty yard dash at his pro day. His size, speed, and leaping ability (42 inch vertical) makes it seem like a great match for him to cover any tight end in the league. To go along with that, he can drop into coverage and pick off the ball. He needs to work on his drop steps but a little more coaching can fix that. He can change the game very quickly with his pass rushing ability and knocking the ball loose. Shazier very rarely misses a tackle because of his incredibly strong hands and great tackling technique. Once he gets his hands on you, you are going down. He makes very explosive hits because of his solid core and then drives the ball carrier to the ground. Shazier should be a great linebacker in the NFL.


2) C.J. Mosley, Alabama Crimson Tide
Career Stats: 319 Tackles, 23 Tackles for Loss, 6.5 Sacks, 2 Forced Fumbles
Height: 6'2                 Weight: 235 lbs.
40 Yard Dash: DNP
Bench Press: DNP

This man has had the privilege of working under the defensive mastermind in Nick Saban for the past couple of years.  He knows how the NFL works just by being in that system.  That is why I believe it is an easier transition for those Alabama players to jump to the next level, and Mosley is no different. He is tackling machine and is constantly in the middle of all the action.  He had 5 games with 9 or more tackles, with three of those games coming against Texas A&M, LSU, and Auburn (three of the biggest games of the year).  He gets up and loves the spotlight. Mosley looks like one solid muscle but those NFL training programs can add even more mass and muscle to an already well-built frame.  Mosley plays with a great but controlled aggressiveness and that allows him to channel all of his anger into the next play.  He has that linebacker mentality of driving through the ball carrier and keeping his feet chopping at all times, which gives him that POP that we love to, see from backers.  The knee injury that everybody is talking about is a little overblown, NFLplayers come back from catastrophic injuries with more ease nowadays.    He also had the very fortunate opportunity of playing with extremely talented players around him but there is no doubt that he will be a very goodlinebacker.


3) Christian Jones, Florida State Seminoles
Career Stats: 223 Tackles, 24 Tackles for Loss, 8 Sacks, 2 Forced Fumbles
Height: 6'3                 Weight: 240 lbs.
40 Yard Dash: 4.60 Seconds (1.60 10-Yard Split)
Bench Press: DNP

He played with great technique and always forced everything inside, as a great outside linebacker should do, and this blew up the offensive play, which allowed the guys in the middle to make plays.  Jones has a great knack for knowing where the ball is at times but he is also not fooled with any read option, obviously less used in the NFL but still shows great awareness and good athleticism. Florida State had a need at defensive end and Jones willingly filled the void, although it hurt his draft stock a bit, and may have set him back in his development for being an outside linebacker, he is a team player and is willing to help out his team in anyway possible.  His forty time is a little sub par, especially with the tight end position getting faster and bigger so he may struggle in coverage.  His playing at defensive end definitely didn’t help him garner any better skills in coverage, but rather impeded it. Jones may struggle quite a bit at the next level, but if he plays with good technique and contains just like he did in his previous seasons, he will find a starting job on a team and will hold that position for years to come.


4) Kyle Van Noy, Brigham Young Cougars
Career Stats: 223 Tackles, 61.5 Tackles for Loss, 26 Sacks, 11 Forced Fumbles
Height: 6'3                 Weight: 243 lbs.
40 Yard Dash: 4.60 Seconds (1.60 10-Yard Split)
Bench Press: 21 Reps

Van Noy looks like and plays like a defensive end but what makes him such a great player is that he is more than that.  He is extremely athletic and moves around the line with great ease.  The fact that teams had to game plan around him makes his stats more impressive as noted by his 68 tackles and 17.5 tackles for a loss.  I love fiery players that play with a passion and love for the game and despite never meeting Van Noy, he seems like that kind of player.  In two of his interceptions therewere great displays of athleticism as he jumped into the air and maintained focus in traffic to come down with the ball.  He also has those long arms that will be key for batting balls down in the air or at the line.  Van Noy seems like a great player that you can plug into a few key spots and he will be an instant upgrade.  He does a great job of attacking the midsection of players, which is the best place to tackle somebody (especially since quarterbacks cannot be hit anywhere else).  He takes on blockers and sheds them with terrific ease, which just adds to his value of playing multiple positions on the field.


5) Carl Bradford, Arizona State Sun Devils
Career Stats: 145 Tackles. 43 Tackles for Loss, 21.5 Sacks, 6 Forced Fumbles
Height: 6'1                 Weight: 250 lbs.
40 Yard Dash: 4.72 Seconds (1.66 10-Yard Split)
Bench Press: 23 Reps

He is an every down kind of linebacker that plays every game.  What more needs to be said for a backer position in the NFL.  He does not take on blockers well because his short arms make it hard for him to get off blocks.  Bradford hits and wraps well when he can get close enough to the ball carrier and He does a very good job of hitting with energy and pop.  He is quite the explosive player when he gets close.  Bradford set the Arizona State Sun Devils record by powercleaning 400 pounds, hence he is a very strong player.  He had the opportunity to rush the quarterback at his position at Arizona State and he does a pretty good job behind the line as noted by his 39.5 tackles for losses in the past two years (20 sacks). He anticipates throws well and does a great job of swatting the ball down once it had been thrown.  Plays every game.  Multiple positions.  Welcomes contact.  I love those kinds of players.

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