Tank is a linebacker with 1st round talent that may not get drafted! He has a deep history of injuries all of his life. Here's the catch: he has come back from all of the injuries and still has the talent to be an impact player in the NFL. That says a lot to me. Tank has all the intangibles you look for in an NFL linebacker along with excellent speed and agility to stop the run and be used as a cover linebacker in man-to-man defense. He shows excellent leadership skills and is a coach on the field. Tank's impact position is as the weak side linebacker in a 4-3 defense and players who play that position are not valued that high in the draft. Tanks has the skills and football intelligence to play any of the linebacker positions in a 4-3 defense and can stay on the field for all three downs. He has the speed, agility and size to play as a MLB in the Tampa two defense as well as rush the passer and stop the run. Tank also has the ability to play inside in a 3-4 defense, but most will think because of his lack of bulk, a 16-game schedule may be too much for him to handle. Right now 4-3 outside linebackers are not all the rage in the NFL. Many of them are not being valued that high in the draft because teams are using 3-4 defenses and looking for players who are 6'4", 260-270 lbs for OLB positions. Personally, I don't pass on a player who has this type of ability in the draft for too many rounds. If Tank stays healthy, he could be a very special player.
I did a search on Tank and according to the information I found, he has a history of injuries dating back to his days as a youth. All I can tell you is that playing football is all about injuries and how well you come back from them. Are you taking a chance drafting Tank? Sure you are, but I think it's a good calculated risk. You just have to decide in which round you want to take that calculated risk! As far as playing at an impact level in the NFL, for me there is no question -- he can and will do it.
We here at The Huddle Report use a two-board system just for this very reason. Players whose positions may not be valued that highly and yet should be excellent players are selected in the later rounds and using the two-board system helps you to understand how that can happen. Some teams will take Tank off their boards because of the injury factor and some who run a 4-3 defense will rate him high. Some teams who play 3-4 defense might rate Tank as just a special teams player and a back-up linebacker or a specialty linebacker that can be used in passing situations to cover tight ends and big slot receivers. I personally rate Tank as 1st round talent because I have seen him play on film multiple linebacker positions at a very high level and be a leader and coach on the field. Even in the Senior Bowl, this kid was telling everyone where to play and communicating with them on spacing. Players respect Tank the minute he walks on the field and I think as an NFL team you cannot afford to pass up on the type of leadership no matter what kind of defense you run. But that's just me and in spite of what I see on film and think, I suspect that Tank will be selected sometime in the later rounds of this draft and maybe not drafted at all! I notice that most of the good 4-3 outside linebackers are always rated low in a draft. The reason for this is that most of them don't possess all of the skills needed to be a complete outside linebacker who can play in any style of defense, but Tank has as much talent as Sean Lee (LB, Cowboys). When I see that type of talent I do not hesitant to rate them as 1st round talent. I let the others over-think the process and talk themselves out of drafting players with this type of talent and go for the players who they think they can "coach up". But seriously, don't you have to draft a linebacker with the first name of Tank?!
The BS Detector
Drew Boylhart Feb /12