Dee Ford   LB   Auburn

TALENT BOARD ROUND 1

STRENGTHS
Dee is your prototypical rush OLB/DE for a 3-4 defense. He has that quick twitch burst off the line of scrimmage that gives offensive tackles fits to handle when he is rushing the passer. He shows the athleticism to drop back in coverage and cover tight ends off the line down the field. He shows good football intelligence and does not get fooled very often by screen plays to his side. He gives excellent effort on passing downs and is smart enough to raise his hands and knock down balls if he canít get to the quarterback. Dee will run down players from behind and plays hard until he hears the whistle. Teams looking for a pure OLB/DE for a 3-4 defense will rate him high on their boards while other teams playing a 4-3 defense will rate him lower, but will be intrigued by his pass rushing quickness, speed and burst and think that Dee might be an excellent intimidator in a defense that will move him around the front four.

CONCERNS
Dee struggles out of a three point stance and is better rushing the passer from a two point stance. He doesnít have very good upper body strength and when he gets locked on to, he struggles to get off blocks and make plays. He is not very stout against the run and seems to lack the effort on running plays that he has when he rushes the passer. He needs to be out in space to be effective, but when he is, he is very effective and makes impact plays. He also seems to struggle against left tackles who can match his quickness and will impact more against right tackles who lack the quickness that he has. Dee is a specialty player who requires a specialty defense to be effective. His lack of upper body strength is my biggest concern and is a bit shocking for a 6í2Ē 240 lb linebacker.

BOTTOM LINE
If you draft Dee and you want him to impact, expect to move him around your defense so that he is in space as thatís when he is most effective. If you want to use him from a three point stance, make sure he lines up wide so, once again, he is in space which will allow him to use his burst and quickness off the line to impact. He can stop the sweep to his side, but doesnít do it consistently and uses poor techniques. That, along with his lack of upper body strength, is what downgrades him for me personally. I have seen teams draft players like Dee very high in the draft and it would not surprise me to see some team draft Dee in the top 15 of this draft. He shows a much better overall game than Von Miller did when he came out with the same skills to rush the passer. I suspect the medical information on Dee will decide where he is selected and rated in this draft. He has 1st round talent and his effort is very good. I think with a little more coaching that he could be much better against the run. If his medicals are good, you will see him fly up the boards very quickly. The teams that run a 3-4 defense will not pass on him in this draft.

Drew Boylhart
FEB/2014