Slimm's 2018 Linebackers (Underclassman)

Discussion in 'NFL Draft Forum' started by TedSlimmJr, May 8, 2017.

  1. TedSlimmJr

    TedSlimmJr Hartselle Tigers (15-0) 5-A State Champ

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    1. Malik Jefferson / Texas / 6'3", 238

    2. Roquan Smith / Georgia / 6'1", 225

    3. Tremaine Edmunds / Virginia Tech / 6'5", 236

    4. Leighton Vander Esch / Boise St. / 6'4", 240

    5. Jerome Baker / Ohio St. / 6'1", 225

    6. Christian Sam / Arizona St. / 6'2", 237

    7. Jeff Holland / Auburn / 6'2", 249

    8. Frank Ginda / San Jose St. / 6'0", 241

    9. Andre Smith / N. Carolina / 6'0", 235

    10. Joel Iyiegbuniwe / W. Kentucky / 6'1", 230
     
    Last edited by a moderator: May 8, 2017
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  2. SF Dolphin Fan

    SF Dolphin Fan Seasoned Veteran

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    What's your take on Cameron Smith? Specifically, how would he fit in Miami if drafted by the Dolphins?
     
  3. TedSlimmJr

    TedSlimmJr Hartselle Tigers (15-0) 5-A State Champ

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    I have him graded as an early 3rd round linebacker if he comes out early. One of the top 3 or 4 most instinctive linebackers I've studied in this particular class.

    That's his meal ticket in my opinion...instincts. Puts them on display both in coverage and in his run defense. The way he works through traffic and chaos while keeping proper angles on the ball is really kind of a rare deal.

    The issues I see with Cameron Smith basically come down to the fact that overall he's simply a quality linebacker prospect, not a great one. He's a tackle-to-tackle functioning linebacker, not a sideline-to-sideline linebacker. Seems to be at his best working between the B-gaps.

    He doesn't have the range or athleticism of a truly great linebacker like Kuechly or Patrick Willis coming out. He's not in that class.

    Doesn't explode on contact like Rueben Foster and not as physical or that caliber of athlete. Smith is more of a drag down tackler, and possesses only average speed for a linebacker. Tries to run around blocks rather than taking them on, and will miss some tackles that a linebacker like Rueben Foster could make. Plays football a little faster than he can run because of his instincts, which is all you're really looking for anyway at the inside linebacker position.

    A little bit stiff, much like Zach Thomas was. Shows great awareness in coverage...zone. But not fluid or fast enough to carry man coverage.

    Clancy Pendergast prefers a 5-2-4 base defense, and coached Mychal Kendricks at Cal. Smith is essentially a little bigger Mychal Kendricks for Pendergast, but a little slower and less physical at the POA.

    If you watched the USC/W. Michigan game Saturday, there was a big difference in the quality of defense the Trojans played in the second half after Smith returned after sitting out the first half due to a targeting foul from last year's Rose Bowl on Trace McSorley.

    He's a highly instinctive and high football IQ linebacker that makes the calls and sets the front for the defense. Gets everybody in the right place most of the time. Again, he's a quality linebacker prospect in my estimation, just not a great one.
     
  4. SF Dolphin Fan

    SF Dolphin Fan Seasoned Veteran

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    Thanks, Slimm. Really value your opinion.

    Obviously early in the process, but I'm keeping my eyes on linebackers and corners mostly. I think Miami would be looking for more of an outside linebacker and probably someone more athletic than Smith. I do like what I've seen from him.

    Will really be watching how Howard develops this year for Miami and if Tankersley can be the man opposite him. Not sure how much we'll see of Tankersley, but I am concerned about the corners and how they will hold up this year. A shutdown guy opposite of Howard would be huge for the defense.
     
  5. mmikel30

    mmikel30 Starter

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    I really love Andre Smith that kids is a beast.
     
  6. Phinatic8u

    Phinatic8u Adam ****ing Gase

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    Adding Malik Jefferson would be amazing. Outside of James or Fitzpatrick he'd have the biggest upgrade for the team.
     
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  7. TedSlimmJr

    TedSlimmJr Hartselle Tigers (15-0) 5-A State Champ

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    Elite prospect. The game he just played against USC was the best one I've seen from him. I compare him to Derrick Johnson when he came out of Texas. Top 15 player in this draft.
     
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  8. dolfan91

    dolfan91 Starter Donator

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    I was about to post the very same thing. He looked like he was playing against boys. By far the best game I've watched of him. Although I came away a little dissappointed In week #1. The whole team was flat. He's one of my favorite prospects this year.
     
  9. Phinatic8u

    Phinatic8u Adam ****ing Gase

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    If you're Miami, those 3 are staring at you in the face who are you picking?
     
  10. TedSlimmJr

    TedSlimmJr Hartselle Tigers (15-0) 5-A State Champ

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    I'll take any of em.
     
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  11. TedSlimmJr

    TedSlimmJr Hartselle Tigers (15-0) 5-A State Champ

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    Pretty good linebacker prospect, apparently just not a very smart one to say what he said about Lamar Jackson leading up to that game. You just don't give players like that extra motivation by spouting off.

    Followed that up by getting injured chasing Lamar Jackson up and down the field and now he's out for the season.
     
  12. Gonzo

    Gonzo Widerstand Administrator Finheaven VIP Donator

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    Any chance we can transplant his brain into Stephone Anthony's body?
     
  13. mmikel30

    mmikel30 Starter

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    I guess I pulled a Andre Smith and spoke to soon...lol
     
  14. ckparrothead

    ckparrothead Premium Member

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    I like Auggie Sanchez on the USF defense (senior) but this Nico Sawtelle kid is something different entirely.
     
  15. EJay

    EJay Scout Team

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  16. TedSlimmJr

    TedSlimmJr Hartselle Tigers (15-0) 5-A State Champ

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    Let me put it this way then, this time a year ago you saw Raekwon McMillan and Zach Cunningham rated as 1st round picks. Most likely top 15-20 overall even.

    McMillan came off the board in the 2nd round and 54th overall. I had him graded #29 overall. Cunningham was never a 1st round pick in my opinion, I don't care where the hype machine had him going. I had him with #106 grade overall and he came off at #57 overall.

    If a linebacker doesn't run 4.59 or better, they're most likely not going in the 1st round. Cameron Smith can't and won't run better than 4.59. If anybody sees 4.5 speed watching Cameron Smith, then we're watching two different players.

    I think he'll most likely split the difference and come off the board in the 2nd round, probably around where McMillan came off the board...and I believe it's a fair slot considering how I have him graded vs. the hype machine.

    But make no mistake, like I said, you're not looking at Luke Kuechly or Rueben Foster athletically. He's not in that category.
     
  17. EJay

    EJay Scout Team

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    ^^ Well, we'll see. Not saying I know, cause I don't. But regardless what round he goes, I think he's gonna be a pretty good player in the league.
     
  18. Tannenbombs

    Tannenbombs FinHeaven VIP Finheaven VIP

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    Peaked at Roquan Smith. That's a player now
     
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  19. gerblack

    gerblack That Guy Finheaven VIP Donator

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    @TedSlimmJr I would like to know what you think of Roquan Smith I am a Dawgs fan so I have a lot of bias but he looks the part physically and mentally.
     
  20. TedSlimmJr

    TedSlimmJr Hartselle Tigers (15-0) 5-A State Champ

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    He's really come on this year. To be honest I felt like Natrez Patrick was a better prospect before the season. But Patrick has a lot of issues he needs to clean up off the football field first.

    Smith has a little bit of Rueben Foster in him. He moves sideline to sideline and covers ground a lot like Foster did in this defensive philosophy of Smart's. Not as big and not quite as explosive as Foster on contact, but they have more similarities than differences.

    I think he's in the same boat as a kid like Jerome Baker as far as how they fit, we'll just have to see exactly how they test out physically.

    Smith's play is the biggest reason why UGA's defense has shown to be legitimately championship caliber this season, and why Georgia is sitting where they are at #3 in the country.
     
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  21. gerblack

    gerblack That Guy Finheaven VIP Donator

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    Yea I was in the same boat as you, Natrez was the one from last seasons play I thought was going to lead this LB corps but Raquon has really taken over and is showing phenomenal instincts/diagnosing of plays. I was thinking he is someone we could get in the 2nd round if he doesn't move up the board to much. I think at MLB calling the plays and getting the D set could really elevate our LB corp next year.
     
  22. j-off-her-doll

    j-off-her-doll FinHeaven VIP Finheaven VIP

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    You were right, Slimm, Jefferson is killing it outside. If he tests close to expectations, he should be a lock to go top 15, with top 10 a legit possibility.
     
  23. Lovethefish

    Lovethefish Well-Known Member

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    This Wisconsin- OSU game will be fun to watch the LBs mentioned above - may decide the ball game.
     
  24. gerblack

    gerblack That Guy Finheaven VIP Donator

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    Well getting Roquan Smith in the second went out the window lol
     
  25. ckparrothead

    ckparrothead Premium Member

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    I'm looking at Leighton Vander Esch now.

    There's a lot to like here.

    I like his height, but it comes with a caveat. He's built like Kiko Alonso. He's tall, but not necessarily big framed. He doesn't have a great big wing span. It's not the same as a K.J. Wright who is tall but also lengthy, big long arms.

    What Leighton does is play with really proper bend, leverage, strength, with really good hands. Very attractive on such a big guy.

    He plays the run well. But on initial viewing I'm not sure he's challenged there much by having to cover two gaps. I used to watch Tyler Gray in this same system two years ago, back when I thought he was a standout UDFA signing for the Dolphins. Same dimensions, also played the run really well. Get right down to it, Tyler also ran pretty well for such a big guy, running in the low-4.7's. But he couldn't cut it even as a Sam in the pros.

    Here's the $64,000 question, though. How agile is Leighton Vander Esch?

    This is just one play but it is the best example of something I see a lot:



    When he gets that momentum going one way, even at quarter speed, and he's got to stick that foot in the ground and go, there's no whip crack there. He takes half a beat longer than other guys, which is typical of a big tall guy with longer legs. It's something you keep seeing over and over, front to back, back to front, side to side...that long pause before he can get the ball rolling again.

    That's not a deal-breaker. He can make up for that in other ways. With a Dont'a Hightower for example, he makes up for that with a combination of being purely fast on the hoof (4.62) and being a heck of a pass rusher, and so the Patriots were always able to find a way to keep him on the field. Kiko Alonso has better agility, but makes up for his lack of speed with FLASHES (very inconsistent) of brilliance anticipating routes and passing lanes.

    Is Leighton Vander Esch fast on the hoof?

    Is he a great pass rusher?

    Does he anticipate throwing lanes with the psychic anticipation of a Luke Kuechly or Zach Thomas?

    These are the questions you've got to ask as you start building his case to be a first or second day linebacker in a league where linebackers are going the way of fullbacks.
     
  26. j-off-her-doll

    j-off-her-doll FinHeaven VIP Finheaven VIP

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    These are good questions, CK, and I'll give you my takes with some help from this Tyrell Crosby video. At the 1:55 mark of this video, I think you get a good taste of Vander Esch's speed. After getting through untouched on middle blitz, he tracks down a WR screen. The rumor is that he'll run in the 4.6's and jump around 37", and he looks like that kind of player to me. For 2017, Vander Esch had 3 INT's (his INT against Fresno St. was a clincher) and 4 PD's, so he is adept at jumping in passing lanes and making plays on the ball, and I think he's also similar to guys like Thomas and Kuechly with regard to his ability to diagnose a play quickly, take the right angle, and beat the OL to the spot - great example at the 0:13 second mark, where he gets inside Crosby and is too strong for Crosby to wash inside - stops the drive for Oregon. Similar situation at 4:28, but this time Vander Esch goes right through the OL for another TFL on 3rd and 1.

    At the 0:31 mark, you get a good idea of his quickness, as 55 can't even get a hand on him before he shoots into the backfield for a TFL. 2:22 is another good example of him combining quickness and instincts to beat blockers and make a tackle for a short gain.

    At 1:16, he gets out into the flat and makes a TFL that turns into a FF when he gets his hat on the ball. And, while he's not someone who you'll line up as a pass rusher in passing situations, he is an excellent blitzer, with good reaction and body control. At 4:00, he evades the cut block with relative ease and closes in a hurry for the sack. Not a great effort by the RB, but it's still a good play for Vander Esch.

    So, I think he's fast, takes on OL very well, and he gives you something as a blitzer (4 sacks on the season). But, I think his high-end instincts and put him in position to make impact plays against the run and pass and cash in on that speed and physicality. That's where he separates himself from guys I'd consider more in the 2nd or 3rd RD - and even some that deserve 1st RD consideration. The Combine will be important for him, but I expect him to do well, and if he does, I think he has what you want between the ears.

    Quick background, he only played 8-8 football in high school, and he came to Boise as a walk-on. He credits his strength to his work as a river guide in Idaho.
     
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  27. ckparrothead

    ckparrothead Premium Member

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    If he is able to put up marks like that at the Combine then that will bolster his case a lot.
     
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  28. finfan41

    finfan41 Rookie Finheaven VIP

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    Hey ck. Or Slimm Have you checked out Frank Ginda from San Jose state led all lbs in tackles with 173 just declared for the draft
     
  29. NoblePhin

    NoblePhin Starter Finheaven VIP Donator

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    Tremaine Edmunds reminds me a little like Dansby. 6'5 250, looks long too.
     
  30. spiketex

    spiketex Kiko, El Bravo 47 - the yappy chihuahua Super Donator Donator

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    Lots of love being thrown in Tremaine Edmunds direction and I get the impression that he is moving up the Draft boards. 2 questions - (a) How much versatility does he have in being able to play multiple LB roles, if needed?
    (b) Slimm rated him highly as #3 underclassman LB back some months ago, how does he compare to the LB seniors? Slimm have you revised your Edmunds rating since your original ranking? I think that he could be a serious consideration for the Dolphins.
     
  31. TedSlimmJr

    TedSlimmJr Hartselle Tigers (15-0) 5-A State Champ

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    I don't necessarily subscribe to the idea he's moving up draft boards, but I think he's about where he was all along.

    About a month ago when all the hype was about Roquan Smith, I made the comment that I didn't believe the only linebacker worthy of coming off the board at #11 overall was Roquan Smith. Malik Jefferson and Tremaine Edmunds will have their say before it's over. They always were going to have their say. However, they're not all competing against each other for the same position. They're different prospects from playing style and scheme fit aspects.

    a.) A good bit. The size and athleticism make it so.

    b.) The revisions I've made to the underclassman thread were dropping off all my underclassman who did not declare this year, and moving Roquan Smith up the rankings from #9 to #2.

    I generally try to make it clear when viewing my rankings early that they'll automatically look a little different after subtracting all the prospects who return to school.

    Edmunds is an incredible talent. He'd be a solid pick for a team like Miami.
     
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  32. j-off-her-doll

    j-off-her-doll FinHeaven VIP Finheaven VIP

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    Really interesting to see so many people throw shade on Jefferson, especially when many of them seemed to like him more coming into 2017 - before he'd really made good on his talent. I'm seeing 2nd and 3rd RD grades from various publications, and I don't know what they're watching/wanting in an OLB.

    Particularly in an otherwise meh group, I think we should see at least 4 off-ball LB's go in the 1st (your top 4 here). With regard to Evans, I'd kind like to see him as a 3-4 OLB or Sam in an Under front. I think those would allow him to put his athleticism and versatility on display. Know you've been high on him for a while. Where do you like him best?
     
  33. Geforce

    Geforce FinHeaven VIP

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    I could be wrong on this but didn't Jefferson play more inside LB this year. I think also they see his 4 sacks in 2017 and doesn't think that is worth a 1st round selection.
     
  34. j-off-her-doll

    j-off-her-doll FinHeaven VIP Finheaven VIP

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    4 sacks is good for a LB, and he's a good blitzer, but he made tackles at a high rate and ran a 4.39 in high school. Those are more important factors than his sack total. Today, he's a better LB than Edmunds. I give Edmunds the edge, because he's so young, but we'll see how both test. That will probably be the deciding factor for me.
     
    Last edited: Feb 17, 2018 at 2:32 PM
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  35. NoblePhin

    NoblePhin Starter Finheaven VIP Donator

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    If we pickk a top lb then we're set at lb. Jefferson or Evans paired with Raekwon in nickel, with Alonso Anthony Allen Hewitt in the wings and thats OK.

    I dont think Edmunds will last to our pick but if he did then he should be the pick.

    Outside of OL, the linebackers killed our season with horrible interior zone coverage and lack of athleticism to get to the sideline
     
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