One of the things I have come to believe about the NFL Draft is that it is important not only to draft the most talented players possible, but to find guys who can fit into the system employed by your organization and coaching staff. For me this is particularly true in the late rounds when you are generally drafting more "limited" players. You don't want to throw those picks away. You want to take chances on players who have a specific skill set or attribute that might be useful to your football team.
Face it, any player drafted late or signed as an undrafted free agent is a guy with strikes against him, with characteristics that scouts think will make it difficult for him to be a productive NFL player.
This long lead-in brings me to one such player, Ohio State outside linebacker Brian Rolle, the subject of today's 2011 NFL Draft prospect profile. At 5-foot-10, 229 pounds Rolle is not seen as a guy who is big enough or physical enough to be an every down outside linebacker. There is some thought that he might be an NFL safety, though there are questions if he has the speed and instincts to play that position every down.
What most reports see him as is a hybrid linebacker/safety and a guy who has a reputation as a tremendous special teams player. Considering the Cover 2 philosophy Perry Fewell likes, and the three-safety package he is fond of employing, doesn't a player like Rolle sound like a guy whose skill set might fit what the Giants do? Plus, the phrase"valuable special teams contributor," which appears in the National Football Post report about Rolle, should get the Giants attention.
Plus, Brian Rolle is the cousin of Giants' safety Antrel Rolle. So, we really have no choice but to profile him.
Scouting reports after the jump.
OLB, Ohio State
5-foot-10, 229 pounds
Projection: Late Rounds
From National Football Post::
An undersized backer who plays with a real chip on his shoulder and mean streak inside. Showcases good toughness to his game, loves to attack downhill, generates a burst into contact and tackles with consistent leverage. Lacks ideal power because of his size and will fail to wrap up at times, but does display some violence as a striker. Exhibits above- average range when asked to run sideline-to-sideline, works hard in pursuit and can consistently make plays away from his frame.
Exhibits slightly above-average instincts in coverage with the balance and fluidity in his drop to quickly make his way down the field and redirect out of his breaks. Loves to be really physical off the line, consistently delivering a good jolt on contact and disrupting the timing of receivers into their routes. Has the range to run down the seam and can be difficult to separate from down the field in man coverage.
Impression: A nasty little linebacker who is a bit limited because of his size, but is the ideal kind of late round, cover two type pick who can end up making and eventually contributing to an NFL roster.
From Sideline Scouting:
Positives: Has good speed and quickness, plays with quick feet and good straight-line speed in the open field... Has a solid closing burst, hits an extra gear within 10 yards of ball carrier... Does an excellent job of protecting legs against cut blocks at the second level while keeping eyes on the play... Has good hands, and will make a lot of plays when dropping in to deep zone coverage... Displays good instincts in coverage and breaks on the ball quickly when it is in the air... Takes good angles and breaks down well at contact, plays fast but does not miss a lot of tackles... Is shifty and quick at the line of scrimmage, is hard to block and is small enough to find creases in the line... Plays with a good motor, flies around the field and rarely gives up on plays across the field... Can lower shoulder and make explosive hits, surprisingly hard-hitting for his size... Has been a valuable special teams contributor for Buckeyes... Is the cousin of NFL safety Antrel Rolle.
Negatives: Plays a lot more like a hybrid safety/linebacker, has good speed, but is very small for the position... Has not put up flashy numbers in any given year, especially in the solo tackles department (85 career solo tackles)... Only three career sacks, had just a half sack coming into this season... Inconsistent production, recorded five or fewer tackles six times in 2010... Has limited upside at the linebacker position, may find himself as predominantly a special teams contributor early in career... May project better as a safety in the NFL, has the speed, quickness and ball skills to play safety, and is simply too small to be a productive full-time linebacker at the next level.
Rolle's lacks the size to become a starting linebacker or the athleticism for a potential move to safety. However, possesses adequate range, power for his size, and the mentality necessary to contribute as a backup and on special teams. Has average range against the run and is willing to take on blockers but isn't a true sideline-to-sideline guy and can take too long to shed blocks or be dominated by powerful lineman. Displays the ability to drop into zone coverage and read a quarterback's eyes but lacks height and quickness in man coverage. Has good character, leadership qualities, and bloodlines (cousin of Antrel Rolle). Rolle likely will be a Day 3 pick.
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