Drew Boylhart 2/09
Connor Barwin DE/OLB Cincinnati
Connor is the type of player I love to draft. He has good athleticism, work ethic and looks to be a quality kid. He has those long arms that drive opponents crazy all game long. Connor can play more than one position, but his impact position, in my opinion, will be as a OLB in a 3-4 defense. He is a LB stuck in a DE's body. In fact, he reminds me of a former player called the mad stork, Ted Hendricks (HOF LB Raiders). Connor is not as tall as Ted was, but he does remind me of him sometimes on the field. Connor is just learning the DE position so switching him to another position will not set him back too far. He has the work ethic and intelligence to go along with very good athleticism and those damn long arms to be an impact OLB sooner than one might think.
NEEDS TO IMPROVE
He needs to learn a new position! Give him time and he will do it and be a Pro Bowler at it. I have no doubt as an OLB in a 3-4 he will impact, but as a DE in a 4-3, Connor will be a good solid player but not an impact player -- kind of like a Patrick Kerney style of DE. In the meantime, while he learns, he will impact on special teams.
TALENT BOARD ROUND 1
Connor most likely will not be drafted in the first round, but he has 1st round talent and potential. The teams with a 3-4 defense should rate him higher than those teams with 4-3 defenses, but for me, Connor is the style of player I look for when drafting. I rate him high in spite of him having to learn a new position. I rate him high because I know his first year, as he learns, that he will still make plays when he is on the field. Talent is talent. It does not matter if his impact (while he learns) is on special teams. It's still impact. When I watch Connor drop off the line, smell out a screen and interrupt that play like he has been a DE all of his life, I know this kid is going to be something. Most DE's are lucky to smell that play out after eight years of playing in the NFL much less only one year of playing that position. When he spreads his wings, Connor has an advantage as a LB that most others do not have. QB's will throw to his side thinking Connor is not near enough to the play and they will be wrong. Connor will spread out and add a quick burst and snatch that ball right out of the air. When Connor was on the field on defense, his college team played better and with more consistency. As soon as he left the field to take a breather, that defense lost its composer. I saw this in the game against West Virginia. That is a leader by example. To gain the respect of your teammates the first year you play a position you haven't played before is something special. I call him Connor (Crazy Stork) Barwin because he could have the same type of impact as Ted had for his team a long, long time ago.