Thursday, April 21, 2011

Scouting The NFL Draft - Big 12/MAC Defensive Linemen

It's time for some more NFL Draft analysis. Yes, I realize that this is not what most people come to this site for, but hey, after yesterday's post (which has gotten rave reviews), I feel like I deserve a little leeway. Today, we tackle (get it?) prospects from the Big 12 and the MAC (at least I'm pretty sure Temple is in the MAC). Without further adieu, let's break down these fellas.
Von Miller - I know he isn't going to play defensive line at the professional level, but he did in college, so I feel like I can include him here. I watched the tape of his game against Texas, and he annihilated them. The thing that jumps out at me is his acceleration. He gets up to max speed very quickly, although I don't think his straight line speed looks all that impressive. I don't think this will hurt him in pass rush, but it could be an issue if he is forced to play man-to-man coverage with a running back or tight end. Even when he doesn't have the quickness to beat his blocker, he has enough strength to still disrupt plays even when getting locked up with much bigger guys. But most lineman have trouble locking him up, because he stays incredibly low. At times, it looks like he gets his inside shoulder about a foot off the ground when rushing, and it's tough for guys who are 6'6"-6'8" to get a hand on a guy who can get that low. He's a great fit for a 3-4 scheme, and he's a legitimate Top-5 talent.

Aldon Smith - Smith is a guy I really didn't see much of this year, and he didn't make much of an impression against Iowa. I watched his game tape against Nebraska, and I think he has some nice moves when trying to rush on the inside. He used the swim effectively and was also able to really narrow his body when trying to shoot through a gap in the middle of the line. On run plays, he got outpowered at times, and I can see that as a problem for him at the next level. I like him more as a 3-4 backer than a 4-3 end, because of the strength issue. I think he can be an effective pass rusher, not great, but effective. I worry about him against running plays, because he often looked lost when trying to read plays. This might be something that is easier for him if he's standing at the linebacker spot than down on the line. Finally, I don't like his lack of aggression. He makes a lot of ankle tackles, and when he sees a teammate in the process of wrapping a guy up, he doesn't join the pile and get in on the gang tackle, but instead just pulls up and lets whaever happens happen. This really bothers me, as I don't see him as somebody who loves contact. He's got the physical attributes to be a solid 3-4 outside linebacker, but his lack of physicality would make me look elsewhere on draft day.

Phil Taylor - Watching Phil Taylor against Oklahoma State, I can definitely see why some are getting excited about him.  He's 330 pounds and can really disrupt plays with his size and power. If offensive linemen want to push him back while he wants to go forward, the best they can hope for is maintaining position. On a few plays, he really had excellent use of his hands. And when he stays low, he can and will drive the offensive lineman right into the backfield. He has trouble moving laterally as he more tries to shuffle his feet along instead of turning his hips and driving towards the direction he needs to go. That's my biggest concern about him as he's definitely a nose tackle in a 3-4 defense at the next level, but he needs to improve on that to avoid leaving big holes on misdirection plays. I'd look at him in the middle of the second, but I would let somebody else have him if they're looking at him as a first round pick.

Muhammad Wilkerson - He's a guy who has been getting a lot of hype lately as a possible first round selection. I watched his tape against Central Michigan, and I understand why people would like his frame, but I think it would be a huge mistake to take this guy in the first round. He played the 3-4 end in Temple's defense, but I see him as a defensive tackle in a 4-3 in the NFL. He's got a big body and some solid pass rush moves, but he's not real explosive. He never really got outpowered by anybody, but it was against Central Michigan, so I'm not going to give him a gold star for that. I see him as more of a third round prospect where you can draft him for his size and hope for above average performance after a few years.


P.S. Here is a pretty awesome MMA video of famous mixed martial artists when they were fighting at smaller shows.

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