Scouting Linebackers: Read what NFL Scouts want to see

In this NFL Scouting series, we will cover each position group. In the real report I used, there are pictures of the player(s) in various movements, with comments about each. In order to keep anonymity for the Scout, I’m only using the words, no photos, or the handwritten notes used except the ones typed during a game.

When scouting linebackers, not only do they put together these analyses, but visit games, watch film, critique them at the combine, any bowls and often host them at their facilities.

The reports are in-depth and beyond what the average fan would consider. These scouting reports gives the reader a chance to see inside the minds of what NFL general managers are looking for. Hopefully, this will help you watch the game with more detail and talk with knowledge.

Scouting Linebackers

Below were separate categories for different items they were interested in. Photos, hand written notes aren’t included except at the very bottom. What I found most interesting was for all the position groups, how the Linebacker has the least “requirements”.

  • Range
  • Angles
  • Zone coverage
  • Man coverage
  • Blitzer
  • Makes plays through trash
  • Vs inside run
  • Vs outside run

Overruns the Ball?

Tackling

  • Effectiveness
  • Explosion
  • Wrap up
  • Open field
  • Lunger

Pass

  • Coverage concept
  • Receiver awareness
  • Discipline
  • Movement
  • Back Pedal
  • Turns (hips)
  • Route recognition
  • Zone drop depth
  • Plant & close on ball
  • Fluidness in break

Mind/Body

  • Instincts
  • read & react
  • key & diagnose
  • coverage instincts
  • pad level
  • point of attack
  • physical can spill play
  • motor
  • block protection
  • slide off blocks
  • hand use/shed
  • ball skills
  • hands
  • stack & control blocker w hands
  • run with tight end?
  • knee bend
  • lateral movement
  • pursuit/closing speed
  • slide
  • redirect/change of direction
  • burst to close
  • pedal quickness
  • good/bad feet inline
  • clear feet
  • false steps
  • spot drop vs pattern read

Here are the notes I was allowed to share:

  • Player 1: ILB 6’2’’ 230 

Powerful legs.  Physical, tough kid.  Patient LB that reads his keys.  Not a burner and no sideline to sideline.   Good drop in zone coverage.  Could end up playing DE in passing downs.

  • Player 6: RB/ILB 5’11’’ 208 

Big legs, bruiser, and does not turn down a collision.  Lacks total breakaway speed.  Downhill both on O and D.  Good tackler.  Good lateral quicks.

  • Player 7: OLB/TE 6’3’’ 225 

Skinny frame, skinny legs.  I don’t see him putting his hand in the ground in college.  Fast, high motor.  Average athlete, questionable strength.

  • Player 8: ILB 6’3’’ 217 

Thick legs, big but.  Bruiser, good lateral quicks.  Physical and quick with his keys.  Almost beats RB to hole.  N/S runner and a clogger.  Question athleticism/cover ability.

  • Player 9: OLB 6’3’’ 225 

Good closing speed.  Finisher.  Stops momentum.  Gets home with a strong grip.  Good as an OLB in a 50 front.  High IQ.  Need more game film, but like this kid.

  • Player 10: ILB 6’3’’ 220 

Good tackler.  Closers speed.  Between tackles type guy.  Nice job staying home and keeping gap integrity.  Nose for ball.  Not sold on athleticism and functional strength.

  • Player 12: OLB 6’0’’ 205 

Thick legs.  Good lateral movement.  Good in space.  Physical, tough dude.  A little undersized and a step too slow.

  • Player 16: OLB 

Skinny frame.  Is a closer.  Question his hand usage.  Gap shooter who is football smart.  Gets hands up.  Has quickness and is a lanky player.  Question his ability to square up and defeat a block.  Not strong up top.

Hope this gives you insight into what the NFL looks for when scouting linebackers. Any questions, you can comment below.

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