Simply put, Clemson linebacker Ben Boulware is a tackling machine. And he enjoys the contact. He has deceptive speed (4.76) with sideline-to- sideline range. He is not tall nor is he stout, but make no mistake he is a good cover linebacker and a powerful hitter in the realm of New York Giants great Sam Huff (third round). Draft sites have him all over the place as high as early third round to the bottom of the sixth. Boulware is the ACC Defensive Player of the Year and the winner of the 2016 Jack Lambert Award presented to the best linebacker.
(6-foot, 235) LB, Clemson, Projected round: 3-5
Q: When you talk to scouts, what words are you using?
Boulware: Grinder. I am very passionate with the game and someone you can build a defense around.
Q: So, what do you offer an NFL team?
Boulware: I am a leader and not afraid of hard work. I have no problem laying my body on the line and help my teammates.
Q: You are considered a “tweener” player. How will this week competing against the better players on offense like O.J. Howard and Gerald Everett help your draft status?
Boulware: It gives me an opportunity to meet all these coaches and scouts and get comfortable with them. Showing them what I am about on the field and my personality. I have a great knowledge of the game and want to show what type of leader I am on the field. I can be the quarterback of the defense and line guys up.
Q: Who are some of your favorite NFL players that you look up to?
Boulware: My favorite guy by far is (Luke) Kuechly. I love his game. I don’t know him, but I love his range and thirst for the football. He’s a top level dude. Just a baller.
Q: Does over 700 scouts watching your every move rattle you?
Boulware: Doesn’t bother me at all. You get comfortable on the field with your preparation. With the stands filled out it gets a bit overwhelming, but I have been doing this for the past four years. There is no pressure at all.
Q: You opened some eyes with your championship run on Clemson’s national championship season. Do you think you were an under the radar type of guy before?
Boulware: Whether I was or not, I prepare the same way each and every game. My job is to rob someone of his ability to gain yardage. I am happy that I got on film for everybody to see. That kind of proves that I know what the hell I’m doing.
Q: You had 116 tackles this season for the national champions. Would you say you are stronger against the run vs. pass coverage?
Boulware: I love to hit someone, there is no doubt about that. I feel that I have the speed for coverage and have been doing that for some time. Every season my pass breakups increase so you know I am back there. And I have five interceptions for my college career. But when I recognize it’s a run I am all over it.
Q: You were named first team All-ACC the past two seasons in a very tough conference. Is that attributed to the defensive schemes of Clemson?
Boulware: Game preparation in any sport is important. You have to study, you have to work to get strong and you have to watch film. Teams will give you tendencies, and if you put in the study time you can get tip offs. At Clemson, they really stress the importance of defense and for that I am thankful to be a part of such a tremendous program and rewarded with a national championship this season.
Q: Some may consider you a loose cannon on the field. Your thoughts?
Boulware: You can’t play linebacker if you aren’t a cannon of some sort.
Q: At the Clemson championship celebration you had a pretty emotional speech in front of over 100,000 folks. What happened?
Boulware: I am a local guy with local ties and it just kinda got to me. We were able to bring those fans who bleed for us like we bleed for them, the best gift. All my life I have followed this program and was filled with happiness. And even with our success all season it seemed every game we were the underdog. So run your race in a way to win.
Barry Shuck is at the Senior Bowl this week gathering interviews and providing live coverage for Giants fans.