During our 2011 NFL Draft prospect profiles series we have touched on almost all of the top-rated outside linebacker candidates. I say 'almost all' because today we are going to profile a player we have somehow managed to overlook thus far while compiling more than 70 of these things.
Mississippi State outside linebacker K.J. Wright among the top 10 outside linebacker prospects in this draft class on virtually every Big Board I have been able to find. Somehow, until now I have not studied this player or connected him to the New York Giants.
I like what I read, and I'm thinking this player might not be a bad guy to take a flier on if the Giants are somehow unable to address the linebacker position in the early rounds.
Scouting reports after the jump.
OLB, Mississippi State
6-foot-4, 250 pounds
Projection: Middle rounds
From National Football Post:
A tall, long, well-put-together linebacker who possesses a good combination of size and athleticism for the position. Lacks great straight-line speed in pursuit, but exhibits a solid first step for his size. Is a naturally strong kid when asked to break down and is a physical wrap-up guy on contact. Exhibits above-average anchor strength when run at inside and seemed to have improved his overall snap as a tackler in tight quarters. Uses his length well to take on defenders, anchor and pick his way through traffic.
Displays impressive short-area quickness, has the ability to side step defenders, avoid the block and use his length to wrap up off his frame. Will get caught up inside at times and will take a false step initially trying to find the football, allowing blockers to seal him from the play. However, overall, exhibits above-average awareness and stays disciplined on play fakes.
Surprisingly, looks really comfortable and balanced in coverage for a guy his size. Is smooth and patient in his drop, keeps his feet under him and is fluid enough to cleanly get in and out of his breaks. Uses his long arms well to reroute receivers in coverage and can really be tough to disengage from down the field. Also, displays good balance and stop/go ability in man-to-man and can really blanket tight ends in and out of their breaks once he gets his hands on them.
Impression: Is a big, long, athletic kid who knows how to use his length/athleticism to fend off blocks. Improved his overall instincts and violence/snap as a tackler in 2010 and looks like a potential starting caliber 4-3 strong side guy in the NFL.
From Draft Countdown:
- Adequate height and bulk as well as long arms
- Athletic with terrific speed, quickness and a burst
- Pretty physical with impressive strength and power
- Relatively dependable tackler and delivers big hits
- Does a nice job of working through traffic and trash
- Nice instincts and awareness w/ a feel for the game
- Excels in pursuit and has sideline-to-sideline range
- Very competitive and intense with a non-stop motor
- Is able to hold his own in zone coverage situations
- Flashes some potential as a pass rusher / blitzer
- Will play too tall at times and use poor leverage
- Struggles to shed blockers, must use hands better
- Didn't make a ton of impact plays in pass coverage
- Might lack those fluid hips needed to turn and run
- Can be too aggressive and take himself out of plays
Played under four defensive coordinators in as many years --- Could fit in either a 4-3 or 3-4 scheme --- Possesses some very intriguing physical tools and is a well-rounded, versatile player --- An underrated pro prospect capable of competing for a starting job at the next level and just may surprise.