Continuing the theme of my fellow SB*Nation bloggers by reaching with our 19th overall selection, we’re poised to take Northern Illinois’ DE/LB Larry English… Queue the laughter!
Basically we need help on defense, specifically the defensive line and linebacker positions. Peria Jerry though a beast, doesn’t present the size and/or run stopping abilities that new Defensive Coordinator seeks in his defensive tackles. When new Head Coach Raheem Morris broke the news that future Hall of Fame LB Derrick Brooks had been released we were all intrigued (and disgusted) to see what his replacement plan entailed. Once the Free Agency smoke dissipated we realized ‘The Plan’ never materialized as we learned that Safety Jermaine Phillips had gained 20 pounds in order to make the transition of replacing Derrick Brooks. We are going to take from a strength to field a position that wasn’t much of a weakness last season.
With the lack of a second round pick we had to keep an eye on two positions at once. With DE Gaines Adams leading the team in sacks last season with 6.5, we clearly need more production from that position, especially with Bates requiring his pass rush to come from the end positions. Larry English can step in and provide that rush. With Gaines Adams making the move to the left side of the line, that should help English fit right in. Raheem’s stressed toughness this off-season and English defines that attribute to a ‘T’. He has a non-stop motor and likes to finish each play with authority.
In the event that English’s lack of size catches up to him on the d-line he can still try his luck at linebacker considering our need at the position. We did sign former Bills LB Angelo Crowell this off-season, but he missed all of ’08 with a knee injury so who knows if he can withstand the rigors of a full NFL season. This move would also allow Jermaine Phillips to remain at safety where he’s wreaked havoc and would also eliminate his propensity to get injured with the increased hits he would have endured at linebacker. English’s past health issues scare us, but it’s the risk you’ll inevitably have to face with a player as physical as he is.
English Scouting Report per Mocking the Draft:
Larry English | 6’3, 254 pounds | Northern Illinois | Outside linebacker
Strengths: English is a pass-rush specialist hustles on every play and has a non-stop motor. Keeps nice leverage to get the most out of his strength. When he’s not playing with his hand down, English uses his arms well to detach from blockers. Good productivity, albeit against lesser competition. Good tackler who also like to lay a big hit on an opponent.
Weaknesses: A college defensive end who will likely have to move to outside linebacker due to his size. Questionable agility to move laterally. Seems to just run straight ahead. Sometimes takes himself out of running plays by going straight for the quarterback. Mostly inexperienced in pass coverage. The Huskies had English drop back off the line in zone, but not often. Has had some injury problems. Tore a pectoral muscle as a senior, tore his ACL as a sophomore.
Final word: English’s stats (32.5 career sacks and 57 tackles for a loss) make him an extremely intriguing pass rush prospect. He has good straight-line speed and a knack for getting to quarterbacks. However, he seems somewhat like a one-trick pony. He doesn’t play the run especially well and has little experience in pass coverage. As a senior, he only had 37 total tackles. Most likely a 3-4 outside linebacker, unless he can be a quick study and play strong-side linebacker for a 4-3 team.
With the lack of ability to trade in this year’s Mock Draft this isn’t the ideal situation for us as we would have liked to trade back to get English while acquiring a 2nd Round Pick. With Percy Harvin, Mark Sanchez, and Beanie Wells still available this was a tough, tough decision. The defense collapsed last season and so it has to be addressed since it was ignored in Free Agency. We’ve polled the fan base to exhaustion this off-season and they appear to want a Harvin or Peria selection, so this pick won’t sit well with the majority of them, but it is what it is.
Be sure to head over to Mocking the Draft to defend or pick apart this selection...