Aldon Smith, Karl Klug, and Lots of LBs

by Tommy Lawlor  –

* Missouri DE Aldon Smith was great vs the run in his bowl game. He was credited with 4 tackles, but was disruptive all game long. He drove OL backward on multiple plays, getting a TFL of his own and creating them for others. Smith used his hands to shed blockers. He chased one run play down from behind. He was especially good on runs that came at him. Most pass rusher types aren’t great run defenders, but Smith was really impressive in the game.

* Missouri’s opponent in the game was Iowa. DE Adrian Clayborn had a couple of good plays, but was nowhere close to Smith in terms of impact. Very disappointing showing.

* Iowa DT Karl Klug was terrific in the game. He had 2 TFLs (1 sack) and was in the backfield all game long. Klug is only 6-3, 275. Some teams may project him at DE or even LB. I think teams running a 1-gap scheme will have interest in him. Klug is a good athlete. Klug racked up 31 TFLs in his career. He knows how to make plays. I don’t know that he could ever start, but he might be a good backup.

* One player who has really grown on me is LB Quan Sturdivant from UNC. He isn’t nearly as athletic as teammate Bruce Carter, but Sturdivant is a good player. I’ve watched games from 2009 and 2010. Productive, quality player. Tough enough to play inside, but athletic enough to play WLB as well.

* I continue to be frustrated with Michigan State LB Greg Jones. He’s not tough enough for MLB in the NFL and isn’t athletic enough for the outside. Not a player I want.

* I watched some tape of Central Michigan LB Matt Berning. Good college player, legit prospect. Tough, physical player. Not afraid to mix it up with OL. Loves to jam and re-route receivers/TEs as they release into pass routes. Matt led CMU in tackles and had 13 TFLs and 2 FFs. I’d really like him if he was just a bit faster. Late round guy. Could be really good on STs because of how physical he is.

* Marshall LB Mario Harvey didn’t impress me. Very productive college player, but I didn’t see NFL ability. Posted good numbers at his Pro Day, but that athleticism doesn’t show up on tape.

* Hardest hitter in the draft? Maybe Wisconsin DB Jay Valai. He’s undersized, but hits like a ton of bricks. Only a limited prospect, but fun to watch.

* I watched some Illinois tape the other night. RB Mikel Leshoure made one great move. He started to the left and then had penetration to deal with. Leshoure made a great lateral move to side-step the defender and bounced the run to the outside. He outran the defense and stretched the ball over for a TD. Leshoure is a big guy, but don’t think of him as just a power runner. He has good feet and the athletic ability to make creative moves.

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