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Joe Arrigo's 2012 Draft Series: LB Evaluations

Discussion in 'Packer Fan Forum' started by Arrigo, Apr 13, 2012.

  1. Arrigo

    Arrigo Cheesehead

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    The 2012 Linebackers class is above average with the help of some defensive ends sliding outside in a 3/4 defense. My highest rated ‘backer is Boston College’s inside linebacker Luke Kuechly. I love everything about the way he plays the game. He is a complete inside linebacker that is the best coverage ‘backer I’ve seen in a long time. On the outside I have Courtney Upshaw of Alabama (who I also included in w/ the DL evaluations) as the top OLB, but think Oklahoma’s Ronnell Lewis could be the most impactful outside linebacker from this class when it is all said and done.

    Here are my Top 10 OLB:

    1. Courtney Upshaw – Alabama – 6-1 – 273:

    Posted Image One of the top pass rushing prospects in this year’s draft who offers excellent versatility at the next level, Courtney Upshaw leaves Alabama after having been one of the most valuable players on the top-ranked Crimson Tide defense in 2011. A two-year starter for the Tide, Upshaw finished his career in Tuscaloosa having produced 141 tackles, 36.5 tackles for loss, 17.5 sacks, six forced fumbles, four pass breakups, and one interception; his best statistical season came his senior year in 2011 when he tallied 52 tackles, 18 tackles for loss, 9.5 sacks, two forced fumbles, and his lone interception. Lining up in Alabama’s “Jack” linebacker position, Courtney is experienced lining up both with his hand on the ground at end in a four-man front as well as playing outside linebacker in the Tide’s 3- 4 defense; he projects well to either position at the next level. An intimidating defender who plays with the type of tenacious and fiery attitude that I love to see out of a pass rushing prospect, Courtney is a relentless player who offers a non-stop motor; his persistence and motor as a pass rusher are what makes him such a good player. As a pass rusher, he offers the acceleration and speed off the ball needed to beat the tackle to the edge as well as the flexibility and fluid athleticism needed to redirect quickly in the open field. Although he doesn’t possess an elite burst or explosive get off that you see with some other top pass rushers, Upshaw’s ability to line up anywhere in the box and create pressure is what makes him so valuable. He’s displayed a unique ability to consistently beat the tackle to the edge before dipping his hips and lowering his shoulder to get underneath the tackle and turn the corner in pursuit of the quarterback. He also owns very good vision, quickly finding an open crease in the offensive line and accelerating through it with the agility to elude blockers as he chases down the quarterback. Although this is nitpicking, I’d like to see Courtney continue to develop his swim and rip moves in his pass rush repertoire, as this will allow for him to continue to improve as a pass rusher in the NFL. He’s got a great start, owning polished hand use with a very good swim move, however he has great potential here and still has room to improve. An instinctive defender who reads and reacts very well to what he sees in front of him, Courtney locates the ball very quickly outside, showing a great ability to close down the line to meet the running back as he’s entering the hole. He plays with great leverage out on the edge in the run game, displaying a consistent ability to give the offensive lineman a violent punch at the point of attacking before setting the edge against the offensive tackle. Upshaw cleanly disengages with great hand use, and has the fluid athleticism and flexibility to sink his hips and get around the blocker to meet the running back in the backfield. The fact that one out of every four tackles he made was behind the line of scrimmage shows the type of impact he makes in defending the run. Despite being smaller than any offensive lineman he goes up against, Courtney shows the type of leverage and flexible ability to bend underneath the offensive lineman with an arched back to consistently win the leverage battle at the point of attack. Terrific in pursuit with sideline-to sideline range, Courtney plays downhill and has repeatedly shown the ability to chase down ball carriers from behind. Despite weighing over 270 pounds, he offers outstanding speed and closing speed for a player of his size.


    My Top 10 Inside Linbackers:

    1. Luke Kuechly – Boston College – 6-3 – 242:

    The most instinctive linebacker to enter the NFL since Patrick Willis was drafted with the 11th overall selection by the San Francisco 49ers in 2007, Luke Kuechly leaves Boston College as one of the most productive players in college football history. A three-year starter for Boston College, in 2011, Kuechly won the Butkus Award (top linebacker in college football), the Rotary Lombardi Award (best lineman or linebacker in college football), the Lott IMPACT Trophy (defensive impact player of the year) and the Bronko Nagurski Trophy (best defensive player in college football). The most decorated defensive player in Boston College football history, Luke is the Eagles’ first two-time All-American, having led the country in tackles as a sophomore (183) and junior (191). He completed his career at Boston College having produced 537 tackles, 35.5 tackles for loss, 2.5 sacks, 10 pass breakups, and seven interceptions; his best statistical season came during his junior year in 2011 when he totaled 191 tackles, 12 tackles for loss, three pass breakups, and three interceptions. As close to a sure-thing as I’ve seen in the past six years, Kuechly brings outstanding intangibles to the team that drafts him, offering the type of work ethic and leadership that few are blessed with. Possessing ideal height for the position with some room in his frame to continue to grow, Luke owns rare instincts at linebacker, whose ability to read and react to what he sees in front of himself is fantastic. He diagnoses plays as fast as any player that I’ve seen in the past six years and shows an elite ability to locate the ball before pursuing it down the field. He does an outstanding job in pursuit, displaying a relentless effort to swarm to the ball and has both the range and the straight-line speed needed to chase down ball carriers from behind. Kuechly is a polished prospect who plays with excellent technique and fundamentals; he consistently wraps up the ball carrier with near-perfect form when in position to make the tackle. With a great, non-stop motor, he does a very good job of playing over the top in the run game and is exceptional at playing inside-out while scraping over the top from his MIKE position. Luke takes great angles to the ball, which gives him a great opportunity to put himself in prime position to make the tackle. He makes it very difficult for offensive linemen to get to the second level to block him because he reacts so quickly to the play and possesses the athleticism to evade oncoming blockers in traffic. With his great technique and underrated upper body strength (27 reps on bench), he’s proven to be very effective at stacking and shedding blocks around the line of scrimmage and fills his hole very quickly on runs between the tackles; my only recommendation is that I think he could stand to add another 10 pounds of bulk and strength, which will make it even easier to shed blockers and make up for the jump to the next level. A deceptive athlete whose acceleration to quickly close on the receiver or ball carrier is very good, Kuechly does a great job of pursuing across the field, showing a heady ability to come from the backside of the play and still make the tackle; he’s always around the football and is rarely out of position. An experienced playing in dropping back into zone coverage, Luke has the athleticism and loose hips in his game to turn and run in transition well. He’s an excellent coverage linebacker who shows an innate ability to both cover zones as well as cover a tight end or running back out of the backfield with ease. Although not an elite athlete, his change of direction skills and fluidity in his drops are elite for a linebacker prospect. With 17 passes defended in three years, Kuechly has displayed the type of ball skills that you look for, however with the way that he is capable of dropping back and reading the quarterback’s eyes, he consistently puts himself in position to either make a play on the ball or make the tackle on the receiver who caught it down the field. The only area that he may not produce much at is as a pass rusher, however his production in dropping back into coverage makes up for it, however he has shown the ability to dart through the line and bring the running back down for a loss in the run game. Coming into the Combine, many scouts questioned what type of athleticism Luke had, claiming that he would not be capable of dropping back into coverage because he lacked great speed; those misconceptions were quickly dispelled, as Luke was one of the top performers in nearly every test, producing a 38 inch vertical jump and 10-foot, three-inch broad jump. Having played in 38-straight games, including a streak of 33-straight games with double-digit tackles, Luke was the epitome of reliable with the durability that you look for; he does not have any known injury concerns as he enters the next level. Luke Kuechly is one of the most complete prospects that I have seen and will be able to contribute immediately for the team that drafts him. He projects best as a MIKE linebacker in the 4-3 defense, although he does have experience playing outside and could move there if needed; however, he’s a natural MIKE who should play there in the NFL.



    For the rest of the rankings click on the link to my site http://theaveragejoeshow.wordpress.com
     
    • Informative Informative x 1
  2. FrankRizzo

    FrankRizzo Cheesehead

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    Nice work overall, but
    Hard to believe you have Lewis, Brown, and David rated above Shea McClellin.
    When did you grab all these quotes, ratings? January?

    I do love Upshaw now, would love to trade up to get the guy. Would be happier to get him at #28, but that's asking for a lot.
     
  3. Arrigo

    Arrigo Cheesehead

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    Frank, no, not January, but I am not as high on McClellin as most people are. He is not CMIII like some think he is or want him to be. Yes he has a great motor, but because of his lack of strength he can be driven out of the play and swallowed up by bigger, stronger offensive linemen.

    He's an overachiever who gets everything out of his abilities that he can, Shea does not possess the type of explosion or quick-twitch abilities that scouts typically look for in a pass rusher and because he doesn't have the prototypical size or strength either, most scouts consider him to be a "tweener," meaning he doesn't have a true position at the next
    level.

    He's the type of player that should move moved around and played in different positions in order to maximize his talents and abilities in the NFL, although he won't ever be an elite player, the consistency and reliability that he would
    bring would be worth investing in.

    I just think the Packers need a player like Lewis, who has that "nasty" that they lack. He reminds me of James Harrison and the Packers could use that, they haven't had that since the late Wayne Simmons.
     
  4. Raptorman

    Raptorman Vikings fan since 1966.

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    Joe, you should post how much time you spent on this so some posters here don't think you are just some fly by nighter who does this on a whim. I know your work, but I am sure many here do not.
     
  5. Arrigo

    Arrigo Cheesehead

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    This is to give some of you an idea, this is what my "hobby" consists of:

    The evaluation of prospects, for me, begins in June-through-August when I bunker down in the film room and dissect the coaches film on the previous season. During the season, I’m as active as ever, watching and recording games while still maintaining a job, coaching my sons in football, baseball & basketball, being a part of my daughters Art and Honor's activities at school and making sure I spend & do as many quality things with my wife, kids and family to make sure they are happy.

    On average, I’ll spend roughly 8-10 hours watching games live on Saturday’s followed by another 8-10 hours of film work during the week on recorded games or coaches film from the previous week. Multiply the 20 hours/week by 16 weeks during the season and I’ll have spent roughly 300-320 hours watching film during the season, and that doesn't include the dozens of hours I spent taking notes on players during the summer and speaking to sources I have regarding prospects.
     
  6. PFanCan

    PFanCan That's MISTER Cheesehead, to you.

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    Thanks for your lists, Arrigo. I do not get the opportunity to watch any collegiate action as I live in the UK. Your summaries are extremely helpful and insightful. Good work and I hope you continue to post your summaries on this board.
     
  7. FrankRizzo

    FrankRizzo Cheesehead

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    McClellin is about 20 pounds heavier than Matthews is, combine-performance wise.
    His 40-time was identical, while his shuttle and 3-cone were slightly less. But remember he's a bigger man, 20 pounds is a lot.
    While he may not be quite as agile as Clay was, remember Clay is ultra-special.

    Brooks Reed had a very fine rookie season for the Texans, including some big plays in the playoffs.
    Many wanted us to take him last year and many still say we should have.

    Shea's numbers are almost identical to Reed's.
    Don't be fooled by the position that
    From NFL Draft Scout (combine results):

    Shea McClellin (2012)
    #3-rated OLB
    6-3 1/4, 260
    40-yard dash: 4.63
    Shuttle: 4.33
    3-cone: 7.07
    http://www.nfldraftscout.com/ratings/dsprofile.php?pyid=70853&draftyear=2012&genpos=OLB

    Clay Matthews (2009)
    #3-rated OLB
    6-3 1/8, 240
    40-yard dash: 4.62
    Shuttle: 4.18
    3-cone: 6.90
    http://www.nfldraftscout.com/ratings/dsprofile.php?pyid=57020&draftyear=2009&genpos=

    Brooks Reed (2011)
    #3-rated OLB
    6-2 1/2, 263
    40-yard dash: 4.65
    Shuttle: 4.28
    3-cone: 7.11
    http://www.nfldraftscout.com/ratings/dsprofile.php?pyid=74933&draftyear=2011&genpos=OLB

    More on McClellin, and I am going to also post all this in the Shea McClellin thread.

    Plays fast with very good football quickness and agile footwork. A high effort and energy rusher who plays with obvious passion and intensity -- relentless and tenacious motor. Fast in pursuit with good chase skills to track down the action. Good get-off momentum and anticipation -- instinctive defender who locates the ball quickly. Extremely active and plays with an aggressive playing nature and attitude -- self-starter and strong finisher. Country strong and very physical, welcoming contact. Fights and works hard to find a way to beat blockers -- disruptive with a nose for the ball. Versatile defensive player with experience at LB, DE and other hybrid front-seven positions. A creative pass rusher, using a variety of moves and techniques to create pressure. Tough and durable with a productive collegiate resume (33.0 tackles for loss and 20.5 sacks), starting the final 37 games of his career in Boise.

    http://www.cbssports.com/nfl/draft/players/1274370/shea-mcclellin
     
  8. FrankRizzo

    FrankRizzo Cheesehead

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    In round 1

    OR

    In round 2

    VOTE

    I think Shea McClellin is much safer and that he will be good. Safer bet. I'd be 100% thrilled with him.
    But I really believe Irvin has a much higher ceiling. He could be a great one, a dynamic pass-rusher like a James Harrison. He does have a little ghetto in him, but because he's tasted that awful life, essentially homeless almost (like Driver was young, and James Jones), I believe the young man is hungry and focused.

    But what if McClellin is nothing more than a pumped-up Zombo?
    What if Irvin goes Johnny Jolly?

    Always risks, but if Bruce checked out okay with the Packers, expect him to go to Titletown in round 2.
    This guy could be the NFL Defensive Rookie of the Year for us.
     
  9. DevilDon

    DevilDon Inclement Weather Fan

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    To be honest I had overlooked Lewis, the more I read about him the more I like him. Obviously #28 is too high so who would you like to see the Packers grab in the first? Or trade down and get another 2nd or 3rd?
     

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