Courtney Upshaw   LB/DE   Alabama

TALENT BOARD

 Round 2


STRENGTHS

Courtney is a technically sound and complete football player for his college team.  He is a mature pass rusher who uses all the tricks of the trade to defeat his opponent when rushing the passer.  He works very well with his teammates and defensive lineman on stunts; he shows the type of leadership skills that make an excellent teammate.  Courtney has good size and the speed to play multiple positions, but I think his best position for the next level will be as an inside LB in a 3-4 defense.  Courtney is strong at the point of attack and is a head up, wrap up, squeeze and drive tackler.  This kid is a quality, intelligent football player whose leadership skills need to be used for him to truly impact.  Stand him up looking at the QB and this kid will make your defense better.  I would think Courtney has the talent and skills to be an OLB in a 4-3 defense or an ILB in a 3-4 defense to take advantage of his true strengths -- on-field leadership and football intelligence.   

 

CONCERNS

Courtney is a good pass rusher at the college level because he is smart and never gives up.  For the NFL, I'm not convinced he has the explosion off the ball to defeat left or right tackles and pressure the QB like he has done at the college level.  I know this: he is a hell of a football player and if you keep him free and let him run to the play, he will impact.  He has good speed and size, but not the type of size and speed that is special for the next level.  He also lacks the quickness needed to overcome his size as a pass rusher for the next level.  In spite of what the Alabama coaches tell you, Courtney might fall back into coverage at times in their defense, but he is used mostly as a defensive end with his hand on the ground, which means in workouts he will have to prove that he has true linebacker skills.  I believe Courtney has those LB skills and will prove it.

 

BOTTOM LINE

When I watch Courtney play, what I see is a player who is truly a leader and a coach on the field.  Don't get me wrong -- this kid has very good talent, but it's just not enough talent to impact in the NFL at the position he has been playing at the college level.  Courtney reminds me a lot of David Harris (ILB Jets), Nick Barnett (ILB Buffalo Bills) and Tedy Bruschi (former LB New England Patriots).  I also think Courtney has Tedy Bruschi-like leadership skills.  Tedy Bruschi was drafted in the third round because he had to change positions for the NFL level and I suspect Courtney will be asked to do the same.  This kid never stops playing and his ability to time his pass rush with other teammates off the line is the type of skill not seen very often at the college level. Courtney understands the big picture when it comes to playing a game.  He sets up his opponent with moves and techniques that will allow him to impact later in the game.  He is adept at fighting off cut blocks and smells out screens to his side like a 10-year veteran in the NFL.  You could use Courtney as a jack linebacker like the Packers do with Clay Mathews because he understands down and distance and when to take calculated risks in rushing the passer.  He is not as explosive as Mathews, but he should be as effective.  If Courtney has good workout numbers, he could easily slip into the first round and be drafted by some smart playoff team like the Patriots, Packers, Steelers, Jets, Falcons or just about any team in the latter part of the first round.  The level of competition in the SEC and good workout numbers might outweigh Courtney having to change positions. Courtney can play multiple positions for your defense and impact in his rookie year, solely due to his football intelligence.  For me personally, drafting Courtney in the second round will allow him to grow without the pressure of being a first round draft choice and will help him to make the transition to another position successfully.  When it comes to Courtney's talent, what you see is what you will get and his football intelligence expands every time I see this kid play. 

 

 

 The BS Detector 

 Drew Boylhart   DEC /11