Dante Fowler Jr   DE/LB   Florida

TALENT BOARD ROUND 1

STRENGTHS
Dante has the athletic ability to play more than one position in multiple styles of defense for your front seven. He has the length and agility to play any one of the linebacker positions and, on passing downs, he can put his hand down and rush the passer. There is no lack of effort in this kid’s game and that, along with his athletic talent and size, makes him the type of player most teams want on their defense. He reminds me a lot of the Patriots’ Dont’a Hightower. He is not as strong as Hightower, but he has that same type of athletic talent. Dante Fowler shows leadership skills and, in his college team’s defensive scheme, he played all over the field and was their “Where’s Waldo?” player. In fact, they even used him as a MLB in certain situations and to me, I thought he looked really strong playing off the ball as well as playing on the line inside or outside. Dante has excellent mental strength and his ability to be “always in the game” no matter what the score is, is truly his best attribute.

CONCERNS
Dante is the type of player who tries to do too much which leads to him not finishing his job. He is a sloppy tackler; however, when he does use correct form, he is a sure tackler. He rushes the passer with good and mature techniques, but a lot of times he doesn’t use those techniques quickly enough and allows himself to be tied up by bigger offensive linemen. Dante is off balance many times because he engages his opponent too high and loses his leverage, which allows him to be handled at the line of scrimmage. Most all of his issues are technique related, directly stemming from the fact that he was used all over the line of scrimmage and has gotten into some bad habits.

BOTTOM LINE
The team that selects Dante will have to find the position he best fits to impact, but to me that’s not a big issue. His leadership is excellent and his “never give up on a play” attitude is the bonus you get that out-weighs his athletic talents. I suspect that Dante will impact better in a 3-4 defense playing on the outside, but I wouldn’t rule out some team deciding that inside linebacker would be better because of his leadership skills and football intelligence. He has no problems dropping off in coverage, but Dante has been used more attacking the line of scrimmage so his impact in coverage will depend on how long he can learn just one position, do just his job and not try and do his teammates job also. All of his technique issues can, and will, be worked on as I know by his play on the field that Dante has the character to improve those issues. Dante should be an excellent player for the team that drafts him, a leader and one of those players that finds a way to make a play when his defense needs it the most because of his effort on every play that complements his talent.

Drew Boylhart
FEB/2015