Patrick Willis   LB   Mississippi

 

STRENGTHS 

Patrick is a high character LB with solid athletic talent.  He is a head up, wrap up, squeeze and drive tackler with good instincts.  He is a smart player who shows good leadership skills and makes the players around him better.  Patrick has been a core player for his college program and is the type of player that will be an asset to the team that drafts him. 

 

NEEDS TO IMPROVE

Patrick has limited athletic abilities to play the LB position at the next level.  He is not fast enough for an OLB, not big enough for MLB and does not do a good job in defending against the pass.  In spite of all this, I have seen other players with this type of limited talent become excellent LBís at the next level. 

 

TALENT BOARD ROUND: 2

First, letís stop all the howling and screaming out there; you are insulted, but Iím just telling the truth.  With all of Patrickís limitations athletically, he could still be an excellent LB at the next level because of his work ethic and character.  The real key to how successful Patrick will be is how much he wants it.  How much will he truly feel the need to be a LB at the NFL level?  Right now, he is a two-down LB thatís had a lot of injuries.  With hard work, he could turn himself into an inside LB in a 3-4 defense and have himself a pretty good career.  But he has to want it more than anything else and right now, I feel that he might be just as happy if he was coaching instead of playing.  He reminds me a lot of the coach for the Northwestern Wildcats, Patrick Fitzgerald.  He was an excellent college LB that won a lot of awards and was a great asset to his college team, but he realized that he would be happier coaching rather than playing.  Patrick can overcome all of his limitations if he chooses to and he would be an asset to the team that drafts him; however, for the purposes of this profile and the draft, his talent ratio is as a fourth rounder.  I know this will surprise a lot of people, but I profile what I see on the field.  I do not profile awards and I do not upgrade or downgrade players because of awards.  Players have to bring the whole package to the table to be rated as a first day pick.  In Patrickís package, the pure athletic talent is just not there to rate him as a first day pick.  Of course it wasnít there for Zack Thomas or London Fletcher or a dozen or so other LBís that are playing and starting in the NFL and they werenít picked in the first day either! 

Drew Boylhart

January/2007