Every year a prospect comes out of nowhere to put on a show at the NFL Scouting Combine. This year that player could be South Dakota's Tyler Starr.
Starr's isn't a name you hear... well... ever. He is, however, starting to generate a quiet buzz among draft scouts as the combine approaches. Despite being largely unknown nationally, Starr is an accomplished defender for South Dakota, holding the school record for sacks (27) and forced fumbles (13).
He has the prototypical build for a linebacker at 6-foot-4, 245 pounds with long arms to match.
So, what is getting scouts excited for Starr's workout? He has announced that he intends to set the all-time record for the 3-cone drill, and he may have a shot at doing so. If the times being reported from Starr's pre-draft training are at all accurate, he won't just set the record as shatter it. So far, his lowest time is 6.29 seconds. For reference, the current top time is wide receiver Jeff Maehl's 6.42, and annoyingly quick Shady McCoy's time was a 6.85, and Brian Urlacher's was 6.96. Maehl is 6-0, 185, McCoy is 5-11, 205. Urlacher was roughly the same size as Starr (give or take five pounds).
While not as widely regarded as the 40-yard dash or bench press, the 3-cone drill is an excellent tool for comparing prospects' agility, quickness, fluidity, and balance.
If there's one thing that Jerry Reese loves doing, it's finding late round gems who are height/weight/speed phenoms.
So, let's use today's 2014 NFL Draft prospect profile to take a closer look, shall we?
- Incredible quickness and agility
- Prototypical SAM linebacker build
- Long arms
- Good block shedding
- Brutal bull rush
- Smooth and aware in coverage
- Powerful tackler
- Hustles in pursuit
- Level of competition. South Dakota plays in the Missouri Valley Football Conference (FCS). The NFL would be a massive jump in competition (with all due respect to the MVFC).
- Awareness is sometimes inconsistent (loses the ball on play fakes or in the read option game).
- Not always aggressive, Sometimes plays reactionary or looks to be the 'last line' (not sure if it's him or his coaching)
- Block shedding is generally good, but he sometimes gets upright and gets hung up on blockers.
Does He Fit With The Giants?
Height / Weight / Speed phenom at linebacker? Yeah, I'd say the Giants could use a guy like that. What's more, if he does stay a late-round pick, the potential that he isn't able to adapt to the level of competition or isn't able to improve his instincts and awareness, the Giants lose little.
However, his potential upside is tremendous. He is often in coverage and looks pretty good doing it. Likewise, when he plays with good pad level he is explosive going downhill.
His agility and quickness would be weapons defending the tight ends and running backs, while his power and explosiveness would make him dangerous defending the run or blitzing.
Tyler Starr vs Kansas (2013) (via Aaron Aloysius)
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Starr is a guy who is flying under the radar, but if he puts on the type of show he is talking about at the NFL Combine, that might not last.
He's probably still a Day 3 pick (right now considered a 7th-UDFA). However, the Giants have a history of snatching guys with very high athletic upsides rather than risk them becoming UDFA's (Jacquain Williams, Adrien Robinson, Cooper Taylor, Matt McCants, and I suppose Stevie Brown might fit this mold. Oakland's pick, but he was a Giant two years later), so Starr might be the next in that line.
There isn't much risk in the sixth round, and Starr could contribute right away on special teams, and work his way into the linebacker corps.
South Dakota lined Starr up all over the defensive front, at OLB, DE, and a couple times at cornerback (though this was a zone-blitz look, where he would start out lined up over the wide receiver, but blitz while the real corner picked up the receiver in coverage).
The blitz look is definitely interesting, and shows off Starr's range and athleticism, but I don't like him at DE. His natural fit is at OLB, and I think he has the athleticism to fit in either a 3-4 or 4-3 front.
Starr probably shouldn't be considered an answer at OLB. However, as a low risk, high reward option on Day 3, he absolutely deserves a long look.