Jon Abbate LB/FB/ST Wake Forest
Jon is the type of player that every team needs to be successful in the NFL. He is a leader, a smart player and shows good speed and burst when he goes to tackle the ball carrier. He does a solid job being a coach on the field and is one of the main reasons for his college teamís success and its invitation to a bowl game this year. However, his physical size might preclude him from being considered as a starter at the next level. Fortunately, his character, intelligence and passion to play the game do not limit him at all. Jon has the history of players like Sam Mills, London Fletcher, and Zack Thomas to use as proof that players with Jonís limited athletic talent, but big heart, instincts, intelligence and the will to succeed will always have a place in a team sport.
NEEDS TO IMPROVE
What you see is what you get. Jon is not going to get much faster or grow taller, but he will anticipate better, fill holes quicker, lead naturally and be a greater coach on the field than most players. But no, he will not get much better athletically.
TALENT BOARD ROUND: 4
Jon has to be in a certain defensive system to be successful. He has to be covered up in a 4-3 with two big old bubble-butt boys in front of him to keep those big guards from coming out and taking him out of play. That limits Jon to being drafted by certain teams who run a 2-gap, 4-3 defense. Jon reminds me a lot of Zack Thomas (LB Miami Dolphins); he is locked in the hips like Thomas, so he will struggle in pass defense, but he is smart enough to overcome that problem. In fact, he is smart enough to overcome most of his athletic limitations as long as he is in the correct defense for him. When I look at Jon, I also see the possibility of him playing the fullback position and at the combine, I would work him out just to see what I had in that area. The problem with moving him to that position is that you lose his leadership skills and believe me, the kid is like a coach on the field. He will be an excellent special teams player and (Iím certain) a special teams captain. Jon is the type of player that most likely will not beat out anyone who plays in front of him in practice. But if that player gets injured, Jon will be too valuable to be put back on the bench again. Jon is the type of player in practice who works the hardest, sweats the most, is slower than everyone else, doesnít look smooth, gets beat by just a hair in all the plays Ė BUT, when you get to game day, he is one of the best players on the winning team. My advice is to draft him and leave all the decision-making on the field (and lack of height and non-athleticism issues) up to Jon. He will dispel all doubts on game day. You can bet the farm on that. That is, IF your team plays a 2-gap, 4-3 defense with two big old bubble butt boys in front of him!