NFL Draft 2011
Author: Brian Carriveau
One trait of a successful coach in almost any team sport is the ability to be flexible enough to adjust your schemes to match the strengths of your players. It might be a simplified example, but a basketball team without much height isn’t going to run a two-post offense with no player over 6-foot. Years from now Arizona head football coach Mike Stoops might look back at his time in Tucson and wish he utilized his personnel to their maximum potential. Arizona has primarily run a 4-3 defense under Stoops despite having three defensive ends invited to the NFL Combine back in February who all appear very likely to make the transition to 3-4 outside linebacker in the pros. Brooks Reed, Ricky Elmore and D’Aundre Reed spent the majority of time with their hand in the dirt in college when it looks like they’re going to have to adapt to a twopoint stance in the NFL. Each one of them, though, is confident they can make the conversion thanks to their dedication to the game. “All three of us – me, Ricky and D’Aundre – you’re going to see a lot of hustle, big motor guys,” said Brooks Reed.
It’s difficult to blame Stoops for not adapting, however, when it’s impossible for him to look into a crystal ball knowing what his recruits would become when they first stepped on campus. For example, a young D’Aundre Reed came to Tucson checking in at all of 208 pounds. He leaves weighing over 260 pounds and on the precipice of career playing professional football. He, along with his two teammates, have been interviewed and scrutinized by the Packers as Green Bay does their research and due diligence on 3-4 outside linebacker prospects in preparation for the NFL Draft beginning Thursday Apr. 28. Brooks Reed Coincidentally, the most highly rated of the three, Brooks Reed (no relation to D’Aundre), is frequently compared to Clay Matthews. Their style of play is very similar, although the first thing everybody notices is the long mane of blond hair cascading out of the back of the helmet.
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Brooks Reed - Arizona
“Brooks Reed has an insane motor” “Brooks has an insane motor,” said Ricky Elmore of his teammate. “If you want to compare the hair, the hair flows just like Clay’s, but yeah, he’s an extremely good player, and I think he’s going to do really good at the next level. I think any team that picks him up is going to be very glad they did.” Goldilocks aside, they do have a striking resemblance, and the nonstop motor is other trait most commonly referenced. It’s the never-say-die attitude that has allowed Matthews to become a two-time Pro Bowler, an Associated Press first-team All-Pro in 2010 and the Sporting News Defensive Player of the Year.
NFL Draft 2011 Matthews’ bag of tricks is seemingly unending. He uses speed rushes, power rushes, twists, stunts and his hands to fend off defenders on the way to the passer. Even falling to the ground doesn’t stop Matthews, who pops back up and plays to the whistle. Reed says he watches film of the Packers outside linebacker and the biggest thing that sticks out to him, however, is Matthews’ ability to pass rush from the first quarter to the fourth quarter. “I just like how relentless he is,” said Reed. “He’s a dependable player to get there even at the end of the game, to get to the quarterback when he’s dead dog tired. That’s what I like about his game.” In order to become the next Clay Matthews, though, the 6-3, 263 pound Wildcat will need to go through a significant period of adjustment. Reed has played exclusively from a three-point stance with the exception of the final two games of his college career: for the Territorial Cup against in-state rival Arizona State and the Alamo Bowl against Oklahoma State, both losses. “He’s a great athlete, and he played in a system where he was a standup linebacker,” Reed said of Matthews, “whereas I’m trying to make that transition right now. “I think it’s going to take me maybe a little bit more time to understand that position, but I think I have the athletic ability to do that.”
Regardless of the learning curve he faces, interest in Reed indicates he’s likely to be drafted by a 3-4 team. Reed estimated an 80% to 20% breakdown in the number of 3-4 teams that interviewed him at the NFL Combine compared to 4-3 teams.
Robert Quinn was second at 1.61), his split was also faster than some of the more highly touted athletes of the Combine, including Nevada OLB Dontay Moch, Tennessee-Chattanooga CB Buster Skine, Kentucky WR Randall Cobb, Georgia WR AJ Green, Troy WR Jerrel Jernigan, and Texas A&M OLB Von Miller.”
“Athletically, moving your hips and whatnot, I think I could do that,” said Reed of the transition. “I mean, just basic things about the position, new responsibilities that I’m not used to as a defensive end, I’ll have to pick up pretty quick.”
It’s been thought for some time that Reed would be a second day draft choice (rounds two or three), but after an impressive performance at the Combine, some are wondering whether he could sneak into the back end of the first round, of which the Packers own the 32nd pick.
But he’s not concerned about the system he’ll be asked to play in the pros.
Ricky Elmore made the exact same 80%/20% estimation of the number of 3-4 teams that interviewed him at the NFL Combine compared to 4-3 teams.
Reed had the third fastest 40-yard dash time among defensive linemen in Indianapolis with a time of 4.68 seconds, but even more astounding was how quickly he covered the first ten yards. “Perhaps his most impressive total came in the most important test for defensive linemen (and, some would say, linebackers) in the ten-yard split,” writes Rob Rang at NFLDraftScout.com. “Reed was timed at 1.54 seconds over the first ten yards, demonstrating a degree of explosiveness typically reserved for much smaller men. Reed’s 1.54 seconds not only was the fastest of all defensive ends (North Carolina’s
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Ricky Elmore - Arizona
“Fortunately with my athletic ability and my size, I think I’m in a position to play both positions,” said the 6-5, 225 pound Elmore.
NFL Draft 2011 “I think if I have to stand up, I can do that and I will do that. It’s not going to be an issue.” Known as a pass rusher, Elmore had double-digit sacks in both 2009 (10) and 2010 (11), although he thinks he can hold up against the run too.
D’Aundre Reed D’Aundre Reed likewise interviewed with the Packers at the Combine and was very excited to be interviewed by anyone, let alone the world champs.
“I think that’s something where I’ll fit very well as a 3-4 outside linebacker, rushing off the edge and putting pressure on the quarterback,” said Elmore. “A lot of people see me as a pass rusher, but I feel my skills at stopping the run are just as well. I think you need to be a well-rounded football player to do that.”
“I compare myself to myself,” said Elmore. “I don’t want to be compared to anyone else, because I hold my own expectations.” Elmore, a projected mid-round draft choice, said he interviewed with the Packers while at the NFL Combine. Asked whether it registered that the reigning Super Bowl champions were talking to him, Elmore replied, “Yeah, it does. It would be awesome to play for an organization like that.”
“I compare myself to myself”
Even though he loves getting after the quarterback and considers one-on-one pass rushing drills among his favorite parts of practice, D’Aundre – at 6-4 and 261 pounds – perhaps held up even better against the run than his teammates. “I love playing the run as well, because we usually play a sixtechnique where we line up on the tight end,” said D’Aundre. “So I love knocking the tight end back and getting to the ball. That opened up a lot of plays for me as well.” Predicted to be a late-round draft choice, if not an undrafted free agent, D’Aundre will look to join his former teammates on the roster of an NFL team … even if all of them will be switching to a new position.
Like Brooks Reed, Elmore doesn’t have a ton of experience playing in two-point stance either, doing so only on third downs and obvious passing downs. And while Reed is compared to Clay Matthews, is there any NFL player who Elmore resembles?
used to it. Just go in, get the job done, do your part.”
D’Aundre Reed - Arizona
His invitation to Indianapolis came as a surprise given he was largely a backup to his teammates Brooks Reed and Ricky Elmore and started eight games in his four-year college career, only one of them his senior year. Despite not being a starter, D’Aundre got a fair amount of playing time due to a fairly strict defensive line rotation at Arizona. Responding to whether it was difficult to get into the flow of a game with a three-play and out rotation, D’Aundre said, “Not really. You get
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About the Author Brian Carriveau is the editor of the Cheesehead TV 2011 NFL Draft Guide as well as the Maple Street Press Packers and Brewers Annuals. His daily writing on the Packers and Brewers appears at CheeseheadTV.com and PocketDoppler.com respectively. Brian attended both the NFL Combine and the University of Wisconsin pro day in preparation of this NFL Draft Guide. He played safety for the University of Technology, Sydney in Australia.