Bobby Wagner   LB   Utah St   

TALENT BOARD

 Round 4


STRENGTHS

Bobby has excellent overall athletic talent to play his position at a high level.  He has good foot speed, quickness and might be one of the better potential cover linebackers in this draft.  He has excellent size to play any one of the linebacker positions in any style of defensive system.  Bobby, as far as size and speed ratio, is going to stick out in this draft.  He shows leadership skills through his play on the field and looks to be a very good teammate.  As I mentioned before his ability to cover in zone and single coverage is his best attribute but he also has the size to improve in defending against the run.  Bobby has a lot of talent to work with and has solid upside potential to become a starting linebacker for the team that drafts him. 

 

CONCERNS

Booby has some very bad habits on the field that, at the next level, will be magnified.  He stands flat footed on the snap and has a tendency to wait on running plays before he attacks to make a tackle.  He runs around blocks to make tackles and if he does meet a blocker in the hole, he doesn't stand his ground before he sheds.  He gives up ground and falls off the block and then makes the tackle.  He doesn't use his hands  very well and they aren't strong hands to begin with.  He lacks instincts and doesn't pay attention to down and distance to anticipate the next play that his opponent is going to run.  He understands formations, but at the snap of the ball, he waits until he is sure of what he sees before he reacts.  Bobby has the talent; he made a hell of an athletic interception in the Senior Bowl that most linebackers playing in the NFL could not have pulled off.  But there is no doubt in my mind that Bobby struggles bringing what he learns in practice to the field on game day.

 

BOTTOM LINE

I don't see Bobby being anything more than a solid coverage linebacker because of his lack of instincts and ability to play strong against the run.  He can be used to blitz, but even when he is used this way, at the college level, he doesn't stand out -- he gets pressure on the QB, but does not have many sacks.  His college team has used him in some games as a middle linebacker and also as a stand-up DE on the line of scrimmage, but when I saw him used that way I did not see solid pass rushing skills or strength and explosion to warrant consideration to be used in that capacity at the next level.  He does a good job in the middle, but he is not the playmaker his talents suggest he should be.  Maybe with some good coaching and better players around him, someone can unleash this kid's potential, but I have seen this situation before.  When a player doesn't show the instincts to trust what he sees and sell out to make a play, he struggles at the next level to be anything more than an average football player.  I like Bobby as a nickel/dime linebacker because of his cover skills and ability to run down players; however, as a starting linebacker for a 16 game schedule, his lack of instincts and "play it safe" attitude will be a weakness that will be magnified at the next level for the team that drafts him.  Bobby reminds me a lot of Takeo Spikes the 13th pick of the 1998, drafted by the Bengals who after his first contract was up, was signed in free agency by the Bills in 2003 and who cut him in 2006.  The Eagles signed him in 2007 and let him go.  In 2008, Takeo was signed by the 49er's and let go in 2010; he has landed with the Chargers as of this writing.  In Takeo's defense, he did have a lot of injuries along the way, but the truth is his lack of instincts and "play it safe" attitude led to him receiving the punishment for those hits instead of him dishing out the punishment to others by taking advantage of his experience, reacting, anticipating and trusting what he sees.  Takeo is a well respected, hardworking football player, but his athletic talent has made him overpaid for his production, which is why he was let go so many times.  My feeling is that if Bobby is drafted too early in this draft, the same thing will happen to him.  He will become a millionaire vagabond going from team to team.  Now that I think about it, that's not such a bad thing after all!  Well, for the fans maybe, but not for him! 

 The BS Detector 

 Drew Boylhart  Feb /12