In "The Breakdown," veteran talent scout Randy Rodgers is analyzing film of a select group of the nation's top prospects for Rivals.com. Rodgers has more than 35 years of experience in the college recruiting arena. He was the recruiting coordinator at the University of Illinois (1988-91) and the University of Texas (1992-97) and is one of the leading authorities on high school football talent analysis in the country. In this edition, Rodgers takes a look at linebackers.
Plays Outside. Needs to lower pad level, but is successful "out-athleting" the competition. Relies on speed, and has plenty of it. Can rush the passer off the edge, can chase and catch on backside plays. Shows a burst to the ball. Is really difficult for high school tackles to block when coming off the edge. Doesn't play much in space in high school, but has the speed to cover backs out of backfield and be a factor in zone coverage.
A true middle linebacker. Downhill player in constant attack mode. Excellent size, plays with good pad level. Could play in either a 3-4 or 4-3 scheme. If he is a true 6'4, he might be able to grow into a defensive end at the college level. He is an excellent blitzer and is way too big for high school running backs to handle in pass protection. You could scheme him into a sack on almost every play.
Fun to watch on tape. Has a really fast motor, and is really active. Despite size, he is an attack player. Good quick diagnostics and reactions, he can really find the crease and accelerate for lost yardage plays. Really good at scraping off tackle. Excellent change of direction skills. Has the speed of a running back, so nobody runs away from him. Would be a terrific special teams player early in college career.
A bit undersized, but really physical. Plays hard, fast motor, really aggressive. Plays with very good pad level. Has good field strength. Appears stocky in build, which helps protect legs from cut blocks. Sure tackler in the open field.
Has good size and good fundamentals. Runs well. Protects legs well, has good enough speed and size combination to play either inside or outside, depending on scheme. Most of his tackles on his highlight tape are on his side of the ball, so no ability to evaluate him as an attack player. No pass plays to evaluate.
Really physical. Can run and hit. Strikes with authority when he arrives. Capable of Knock Back Tackles. Really good in pursuit. Needs to work on lowering pad level, but is successful because of his speed and quickness. Quick on the blitz. Had a couple of plays at defensive end where you could see his reactions and ability to get off blocks.
Has an excellent pre-snap stance. Just looks like a great middle linebacker. Plenty big and best of the bunch at playing vs. uncovered offensive linemen. Shows patience when reading keys, never over pursues, and will knock you down when he arrives. Long legged, so he will always have to work on footwork. Excellent pad level for a big guy. A true 4-3 Middle Linebacker.
Fast motor guy for big guy. All his plays on tape are attack plays. Doesn't spend much time reading, just goes. Shows good speed to the outside. Good timing on blitz. Another guy who is just too big for high school running backs to take on and block. A thumper who might be able to grow into a defensive end at the college level.
Really like his speed. Has sideline to sideline range at linebacker. Plays deep, shows patience and has the speed to react late and still get to the play. Does a nice job shedding blocks. Can play in space, has coverage skills.