Jason Verrett CB TCU #2
Size/Athleticism: Less than ideal height and overall bulk. Very short arms (30.5″) which further limits his ability to be effective against bigger receivers. Elite speed. A very fluid, natural athlete.
Coverage: Has the speed to run with any receiver. Will struggle in certain matchups, especially when battling for jump balls with more physical receivers. Elite leaping ability, but due to his height and short arms he still struggles to battle for jump balls against bigger receivers. Gets pushed around easily. Occasionally lined up deep in zone coverage, essentially acting as an extra safety in certain sets for TCU. Savvy in his approach and is capable of positioning himself inside or outside the receiver to dictate their movement, especially against smaller receivers who can’t easily fight through him.
Ball skills: Does a great job reading the quarterback and is capable of adjusting to the ball like a receiver. Exceptional body control and is capable of making some acrobatic attempts to get his hand on the ball.
Run support: Elite closing speed. Used on blitzes occasionally and can be disruptive due to the speed at which he can fly into the backfield. Does not back down against bigger running backs. Not a strong wrap-up tackler due to his size, but closes quickly enough that he can consistently wrap up the ball carrier around the legs.
Intangibles: Did not receive any scholarship offers out of high school. Recruited to TCU out of JUCO in 2011. Worked hard to get where he is and is well respected by teammates and coaches. Tough and willing to play through injuries.
Durability: Played through a torn labrum in 2013 and underwent surgery after his pro day in March which may delay his participate in offseason workouts as a rookie. Played through a torn meniscus in 2012 and delayed surgery until the offseason.
Comments: Verrett doesn’t have the measurables, but you can’t ignore his production. He’s a high-energy, high-effort playmaker who jumps out when watching TCU. His physical tools definitely limit his game and he will struggle in certain matchups at the next level. But he has the tools to be a starting cornerback and will excel immediately if he can be paired with a bigger corner to handle the more physical matchups.
Telvin Smith LB Florida State #22
Size/Athleticism: Vastly undersized which will severely limit his role until he bulks up. May be considered an oversized safety by some teams due to his lack of bulk. Elite athleticism for the position. Not only fast enough to play sideline to sideline, but also shows great balance and agility to avoid blockers when playing close to the line.
Run Defense: Range is his best asset. Does a great job diagnosing the play and taking correct angles. Fast enough to make plays in pursuit and will chase down some ball carriers from behind. Mostly serves as a last line of defense against the run. Doesn’t have the strength to mix it up at the line of scrimmages and rarely makes impact plays. Great closing speed and a reliable tackler. Can wrap guys up in the open field.
Pass Rush: Can be effective as a situational blitzer, but he isn’t a pure pass-rusher. Simply lacks the strength to be effective and can only get into the backfield when he’s the extra blitzer and essentially goes in unblocked, or with the element of surprise on a delayed blitz. Easily shut down once he’s engaged in a block.
Coverage: Does a nice job in zone coverage of reading the quarterback and putting himself in position to make plays. Somewhat inexperience dropping in coverage against tight ends. Man coverage assignments were often on running backs coming out into the flat.
Intangibles: Only a one-year starter. Suspended for a game in 2011. Plenty of experience on special teams.
Durability: No known issues, although his lack of size raises some concern.
Comments: Smith can be an effective weapon but every team will view him different due to his lack of size. He isn’t the type of linebacker who can mix it up on the line and against the run, he’s basically a last line of defense. While he makes plays against the run, he’s really more of a liability because of his inability to generate stops at or behind the line of scrimmage. His best asset at the next level will be his athleticism in coverage. He’s already very good at dropping in zone and reading the quarterback and has the raw skills to develop into an asset in man coverage.
Jeremiah Attaochu LB Georgia Tech #45
Size/Athleticism: Adequate overall size. Relatively long arms. Impressively straight line speed and shows quality overall athleticism. Looks very fluid in his movements and has the agility to give offensive linemen issues as an edge-rusher.
Run Defense: Impressive balance and change of direction ability for his size allows him to adjust and make plays in pursuit. Does a great job working through traffic in pursuit. Struggles to anchor at the point of attack. May be a liability in this area if he lands in a 4-3 scheme.
Pass Rush: Quick first step off the edge. Strong enough to bull-rush and shed blocks. Impressive burst and acceleration. Closes quickly and can deliver a big hit on the quarterback. Doesn’t show many pass-rush moves, relies on his ability to win with speed. Can shed blocks and gives a great second effort but needs to develop a repertoire of moves. Surprisingly effective blitzing on the inside—hits gaps quickly and has the power and balance to work through off-balance attempts from blockers.
Coverage: Limited experience dropping into zone coverage. Can drop and cover a short area but will struggle in man assignments. Likely not be asked to drop often at next level.
Intangibles: Born in Nigeria. Has a reputation as a hard worker.
Durability: Missed one game in 2012 with an undisclosed injury. Missed time with a leg injury in 2011. Suffered a hamstring injury during the Senior Bowl which prevented him from working out at the combine.
Comments: Attaochu doesn’t really have first-round talent in any one area, but he’s extremely solid across the board. His second effort as a pass-rusher is among the best in this class, as he consistently disengages and comes back with a nice burst. His ability to accelerate and generate momentum in tight spaces gives him potential to be a disruptive force in the backfield. He probably fits best in a 3-4 scheme, but has experience playing with his hand on the ground also.
Kyle Van Noy LB BYU #3
Size/Athleticism: Average height and overall size. Certainly not physically imposing on the field, but can hold his own. Extremely short arms which hurts him in certain aspects of the game.
Run Defense: Struggles to shed blocks due to modest strength and short arms which hurt his ability to be violent with him arms and hands and disengage. Patient letting the play develop, but almost to a fault. Seems a little late to react sometimes. Takes smart angles in pursuit which helps make up for modest speed when the play is in front of him, but when he doesn’t see it develop perfectly he gets twisted around and takes some awkward movements which often removes him from the play.
Pass Rush: Very limited ability as a pass-rusher. Moderately effective as bull-rusher, but lacks the elite strength to consistently and efficiently plow his way into the backfield. Short arms hurt his ability to keep offensive linemen from getting into his pads and locking him down. Does a nice job keeping his eye on the quarterback and getting arms up into passing lanes.
Coverage: Does a nice job reading the quarterback in zone coverage but has limited range. Can be a liability in man coverage in certain matchups. Can really only handle man assignments with possession tight ends on shorter routes.
Intangibles: Arrested for DUI as a senior in high school. Was in jeopardy of losing his scholarship to BYU due to school’s honor code, and one month later was against caught with alcohol and arrested for evading polices (charges later dropped). School eventually accepted him anyway and reportedly has stayed out of trouble since.
Durability: Played through a shoulder injury at end of 2013 season.
Comments: Van Noy meets all the basic physical requirements of the position and has been effective throughout his college career. However, he fails to stand out in any one area. He’s limited in terms of his range against the run, he’s too stiff in coverage and he isn’t explosive as a pass-rusher. He shows enough ability in each area to potentially develop into an adequate starter, but his long-term upside is limited.
Ryan Shazier LB Ohio State #2
Size/Athleticism: Lacks ideal size for a linebacker but is well built and strong for his size. Straight-line speed rivals some cornerbacks and overall mobility as a sideline-to-sideline defender ranks among the elite prospects in this class.
Run Defense: Elite range. Can make plays from sideline to sideline. Fast enough to chase down the ball carrier in pursuit. Phenomenal closing speed and can lay a big hit when lines up the ball carrier. Takes great angles, which allows him to make plays just about anywhere on the field. Does a decent job fighting through traffic, but can get caught up sometimes because he lacks the strength to move people out of his way.
Pass Rush: Dangerous on delayed blitzes because of his speed. If he can find a gap in the line, he has the ability to quickly close on the quarterback and flush him from the pocket. Limited in his ability to take on offensive linemen when he can’t win with speed. Can cause problems as a speed-rusher on the edge in certain matchups.
Coverage: Athleticism gives him potential in this area, but he’s still developing in man coverage. Gets lost at times and turns his back on the quarterback too often. When his assignments stay in front of him, he does a nice job staying in his space and reading the quarterback. Much more effective in zone coverage at this stage of his career. Can run with most tight ends and running backs. Lack of size hurts him in certain tight end matchups, and at the next level the elite pass-catching tight ends will be able to box him out in 50/50 situations.
Intangibles: Captain in 2013.
Durability: Slowed by a knee injury in 2011 but did not miss any games.
Comments: Shazier’s lack of size will turn off some coaches and he likely will be removed from some draft boards because he simply doesn’t meet the measurables requirements for certain schemes. But in the right system, he can be an effective three-down linebacker who can impact the game in a variety of ways. His range against the run and in coverage, and his ability to get to the quarterback on blitzes gives him the well-rounded game necessary to play and be effective immediately.