Max Bullough   LB   Michigan St

TALENT BOARD ROUND 3

STRENGTHS
Max has the size, football intelligence, and instincts along with a good burst to the play that you need to have in a linebacker who can stop an offense from making plays. He takes good angles and uses his hands well to keep bigger players off his body to make tackles. He is big enough and strong enough to take on offensive linemen all game long to stuff the run. He has enough agility to quickly drop off into zone coverage on obvious passing downs. Max is a coach on the field calling plays and making adjustments to the gap responsibilities of the front four before the snap of the ball. He is in charge of the front seven on the field, correcting the spacing of the defense and changing linebacker coverages to address the multiple offenses in passing downs and on running plays. He understands down and distance and is very aware of the chains on the field. Max can screw up a quarterbackís pre-snap read because he times his defensive calls to the rhythm of the offensive snap anticipating when the snap will be made and waiting to make his final change at the last possible minute. This is a trick most NFL linebackers donít figure out until they play in the league a few years, if at all. In the defense in which he played, Maxís main job was to stop plays from being made against that defense and he was very successful doing that.

CONCERNS
Max was suspended for the Rose Bowl and teams will have to address that issue. Iím sure from what I see on film that Max will address it himself and this will not become much of an issue. Max is not the most athletic player, but he does have good athletic talent. He needs the play in front of him, but if he watches his weight and makes his drops deeper like he did the year before last, dropping in zone coverage will not be a big problem because of his football intelligence. This year it looked like he was heavier; he needs to play at about 245 lbs to 250 lbs to be effective, in my opinion. When he is over that, he struggles with his quickness and burst to the ball.

BOTTOM LINE
Max is a football player and, although he doesnít have the athleticism that Brian Urlacher had, he plays very much the same way and reminds me a lot of Urlacher. When he takes the right angles and uses the right techniques, he might not be able to run players down from behind, but the truth is thatís why you have safeties. From hash mark to hash mark, Max will be a force to deal with. From 20 yards off the line of scrimmage on passing downs Max will be there defending plays and making tackles. If you need him to blitz on stunts, Max is forceful enough to run over running backs and tight ends and make a quarterback shiver. Last year in a game I have on film, Max blitzed up the middle and put an offensive CENTER right on his back and made the QB throw early that caused an interception. If a linebacker has unique athletic talents like speed or quickness or the ability to rush the passer from the outside they will be rated (in most cases) higher than most inside or middle linebackers. I value the position higher than most because I value the intangibles of a player higher than most. Linebackers like Max impact because of the scheme they play in, but the fact that he is a coach on the field makes him more valuable in my eyes. This is the type of player the Patriots have had a lot of success with over the years because Belichick values football intelligence higher than athletic talent. He believes that athletic talent, once established, is a given. Whatís left for a player to improve is his intelligence and how well he takes what he learns in practice and meetings on to the field. I happen to agree and although Max might not be selected early in this draft, the team that selects him will be getting a very good player who they can use to build their defense around because of his ability to be a leader and a coach on the field.

Drew Boylhart
APR/2014