Lavonte has solid athletic talent. He shows nice speed and has the ability to be a good cover linebacker on passing downs. He has quick feet and is what I would call a good "chase" linebacker. Lavonte should be a strong special teams player on the coverage units and looks to be an excellent teammate. He understands his assignments and is great at communicating to his teammates on the field. Lavonte is the type of player who can be a captain on the special teams units and a coach's best friend in the locker room. You can see that in the way he interacts with his teammates on the field and on the sidelines.
Lavonte is not stout enough against the run to be a starting linebacker in the NFL. He lacks the bulk and his body type doesn't look like it can gain anymore bulk or weight than he has right now. He gives good effort but is not a strong tackler. I also do not see the instincts and quick reactions needed to be a linebacker at the next level. At his size, he should be anticipating and reacting much quicker. He does do a good job in coverage and can turn and run, which just might be the key to success for Lavonte because he is just not much of a linebacker.
As I said before, Lavonte is not a starting linebacker for the next level. He could be a two deep zone safety, but the truth is I'm not sure he has the instincts to be anything more than a specialty player. I suspect if you use him as a cover linebacker in nickel-dime situations that would be best, but don't ask him to be your in the box safety or a linebacker because he is just not built to stop the run. In the Nebraska-Cincinnati game I saw an offensive lineman go to the second level and hold off Lavonte with one arm so that he could not get involved or make the tackle on the running back. You can't play linebacker if you can be held off the play with just one arm in the middle of your chest. I like this kid and think he will be an asset to the team that drafts him and maybe he can turn himself into a safety, but even that will take some time. The truth is he looks like a very good specialty player who can be a leader on your specialty teams and a cover linebacker. With all the tight ends and large receivers, Lavonte just might be the answer for some teams and that means he could be rated higher. However, for me, I see a specialty player and I don't think it's smart to draft a specialty player in the first four rounds. In the first four rounds, I'm looking for potential starting players and impact players -- not specialty players.
The BS Detector
Drew Boylhart Feb /12