LAVONTE DAVID, OLB, NEBRASKA
TRIANGLE NUMBERS: 6-1, 225, 4.65
A shorter, athletic-looking linebacker with a muscular lower half/base. Is slightly undersized, but plays with a burst and has some explosive qualities to his game. Reads and reacts quickly to the inside run game. Does a nice job initially locating the football, generates a burst when asked to close and takes consistent angles in pursuit. Lacks elite straight-line speed/closing range, but is still a plus in that area and can make plays consistently off his frame. Does a nice job avoiding blocks inside, is light footed, feels traffic around him and displays that 6th sense to slip a block and put himself in position to tackle the ball carrier. Reads the interior of the O-line well, consistently gets early jumps on the football and takes proper gaps inside. Is a solid wrap-up guy in pursuit. Has a snap into contact, explodes through the hips and is more physical on contact than his frame would suggest. Has a strong punch as well when asked to take on blocks at the point. Does a nice job staying violent and will shed. Takes on pulling guards with good pop and leverage, however just doesn’t have the lead in the pants needed to consistently anchor. Seems a bit short armed as well, when he gets high in space as a tackler, struggles to get into the frame and can see a stiff arm causing him to fall off his target.
Displays impressive footwork and balance in coverage. Is fluid in the hips, coordinated with his footwork and has the ability to cleanly redirect, maintain balance and close on the throw. Looks natural when asked to turn and run, keeps his base down, snaps his head around quickly and locates the football. Lacks ideal size and can be a target of being boxed out once he gives up a step. However, can turn and run with the tight end down the seam and gets good depth in his drop. Displays a natural feel recognizing routes in coverage and seems to always be around the football. More than held his own in man vs. some of the Big 12’s best pass catchers and should be able to do the same in the NFL.
Impression: He’s undersized, but is instinctive. Might be limited to more of a cover two type scheme only, but looks like a starting caliber weak side guy to me early in his NFL career.
Is an explosive LB who does a good job playing bigger than his listed size…hits like a Mac truck in the open field…looks extremely fluid and athletic in the open field…does a good job staying with RB’s and TE’s when in coverage…very instinctive, he does an excellent job or reading the play both pre and post snap to figure what’s going to happen, where, and how to attack it…uses his size and speed to his advantage in the open field often beating blockers to the spot and making plays…will slip through tiny holes in the offensive line on his blitz…smart player who understands how to use angles to his advantage…rarely will be caught over pursuing.
His size will hurt him in some teams eyes…he struggles to disengage from blocks…there are questions about his ability to step out and cover TE’s in the slot…limited by his frame from adding much more size…can be knocked off the play by blocks…his footwork is a work in progress at times he can get his feet caught up underneath him…was an effective blitzer in college but his size may limit that ability in the NFL…likely to be stuck working in a Cover 2 43 system only.
There are few weakside 4-3 linebacker prospects who find themselves pushing for first-round consideration, but with the right fit, David would make an excellent pick in the 2012 NFL Draft.
He’s won numerous awards in his career, ranging from first and second-team All American and even the Huskers’ team defensive MVP last year. David’s ability to seal the edge and excel in man-to-man coverage make him an exciting linebacker in college football. Most prospects really do well playing downhill and getting after the quarterback or can dominate when it comes to sheer athleticism, but David is already a solid contributor who can come in with little preparation and potentially start right away.
David doesn’t show a lot of flash as a pass rusher at this time. Due to his average height and weight, he struggles disengaging from offensive linemen or having the top-end speed to break the corner on a blitz. What he can do is use his fluid hips in open space to keep an eye on tight ends over the middle and running backs in the flat. He’s a sound tackler who rarely overplays and does well to play within his assignment.
Due to his good, but not great athleticism, some teams may opt to take the player who could potentially develop better all-around skills which will ultimately hurt his draft value slightly. David will likely be drafted in the back half of the second round in the 2012 NFL Draft.
[pro-player width='530' height='253' type='video']http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CnFkMJ1Rbwg[/pro-player]
Lavonte David is an undersized outside linebacking prospect. Awesome production. Great tackler. Can stay with backs and receivers. Explosive. Flies to the ball. Smart and instinctive. Big knock is size. 6-1, and that might be generous. 225. Not the prototype of a linebacker. That said, the Giants, as I’m starting to think more and more, don’t need a traditional linebacker. They need to replace Deon Grant. If they are going to stick with the big nickel, 3 safety package, then they need a Deon Grant type. I think David fits that mold. Can be physical at the line, run and hit, but also stay with guys in coverage. He’s a bit of tweener, David is, so allowing him to play that “Bison” role might be a good idea. 2nd or 3rd round. David has a lot of talent, and I think, if used correctly, he can be great. I think he’s perfect for that “Bison” role. He’s such a good tackler and is so instinctive and athletic that in that role, his size won’t hurt. And at the very least, he will be a special teams dynamo, where he can be an impact player from day 1. He’s probably a third round pick, but if the Giants want him, they’ll have to take him in the second, because he won’t be there at the end of the third.