Drew Boylhart March 2008

Cliff Avril   LB   Purdue    

 

STRENGTHS

Cliff is a hell of an athlete who has been playing out of position for his team because he is an excellent pass rusher.  This kid, for the next level, is a natural OLB in a 3-4 defense with the ability to play on the strong side.  He can cover a TE and does an excellent job defending against the run.  I also believe that Cliff could play any one of the LB positions in a 3-4 defense or a 4-3 defense, but his impact would be as a pass rushing LB with the ability to be used in coverage.  That means bringing him to an inside LB position would limit his impact.  Cliff shows excellent leadership qualities and because he is so smart and instinctive, there is no doubt in my mind about his work ethic.  Cliff Avril has the potential to be a Pro Bowl strong side LB in a 3-4 defense for the team that drafts him.    

 

NEEDS TO IMPROVE

Cliff just needs to be drafted by the right team in the right defense and he will impact immediately.  I suspect that he might need some time to impact in a defense or position that he has not played up until now, but give him some time and he will produce.  

 

TALENT BOARD ROUND 1

Teams that run a 3-4 defense must be drooling just thinking about this kid.  He is smart and will learn the OLB position real fast.  Just put him on the field and let him go.  This is the type of kid you can build your defense around because of his athleticism and leadership skills.  Most people are not going to rate Cliff as high as I do because all they see is a undersized kid that will have to learn a new position.  That's because they do not watch game film like I do.  They watch the coach's film and evaluate how well Cliff is doing as a DE and then they try to suggest that he could be a good OLB in a couple of years.  However, that is the problem when all you watch is the coach's film.  In the coach's film you don't see the interaction of this kid with other players.  You don't see how smart he is.  You don't see his leadership skills.  The only way you find out if the kid has leadership skills is when you ask a coach or a teammate.  When a coach says "he is one of our leaders", that means nothing to me.  I want to see it on the field and then I want to see how the players react to him.  Cliff is a leader and his teammates react to what he says to them on the field.  They may hate him off the field for all I know, but on the field, they respect this kid.  That's why I'm giving him such a high talent grade.  I'm not worried about his LTI being longer than normal because he may have to change positions.  His natural athleticism, intelligence and leadership skills are what make this kid 1st round talent.  I'm not sure when he will be drafted, but I know the team that drafts him is drafting a hell of a player.   I would think that Cliff would be a perfect fit for the New England Patriots and any other team that runs a 3-4 defense.