NFP Scouting Series: Rutgers

For the rest of the summer, the National Football Post will be breaking down every team in the Football Bowl Subdivision (formerly known as Division I-A) to identify players who could warrant the most interest from NFL teams in the 2011 draft.

Therefore, today we take a look at the Rutgers Scarlet Knights.

Defense

DE Jonathan Freeny: No. 99 (6-3, 250)
An explosive pass rusher who really coils up into his stance well and can fire off the snap. Possesses a lean, rangy body with long arms, but needs to do a better job of getting off the snap count more consistently. Improved as the season went on, but when this guy gets off the ball on time he’s very tough for opposing tackles to reach off the edge. Now, he’s still learning how to use his hands, as he consistently only extends his left hand into blocks when trying to flatten out around the corner. However, he does exhibit good body control when dropping his pad level and accelerating around the edge. But, needs to do a better job of keeping his pad level down initially into blocks, as too often he exposes his chest, doesn’t use his hands well to keep himself clean and allows blockers to get into his frame and dictate to him on contact.

Is more of a linear pass rusher at this stage who has the first step to fire up the field inside of opposing tackles and create initial penetration. But again, gets upright the further he has to fight his way though a block and eventually can be anchored against. Now, he does have the body control to cleanly change directions and accelerate, which is evident when asked to stunt, but he just doesn’t have a real grasp on any type of counter move at this stage and is just more of a one-trick pony right now. Lacks power vs. the run game and can be easily sealed/driven off the ball when run at. As of now, doesn’t seem like a guy capable of playing as an every-down defensive lineman and looks more like a nickel rusher only at this stage.

Impression: Has the kind of first step that can’t be ignored, as he knows how to reach the edge and put pressure on the corner. However, he needs to develop some type of counter move and continue to work on getting off the snap count on time. But could end up finding a role at the next level as a pass-rushing specialist in either a 3-4 or 4-3 scheme.

DL Alex Silvestro: No. 45 (6-4, 260)
Possesses a tall, long frame, but lacks any kind of a burst as a pass rusher and struggles to keep his pad level down off the edge. Allows himself to get too upright into contact, struggles to quickly change directions when trying to slip blocks and isn’t overly powerful at the point because of his inability to play with leverage.

Uses his hands well at times when run at and has the ability to extend his arms inside the frame of opposing linemen and work his way free. However, for the most part, he’s overwhelmed/sealed on contact and typically only makes hustle plays five-plus yards down the field. Works hard in pursuit and is a real try-hard guy, but doesn’t have the type of body control to break down and tackle ball carriers even when he does free himself from a block on the edge.

Impression: Just isn’t a real explosive athlete and lacks the pad level and overall coordination to be effective in any area of the game at the next level.

OLB Antonio Lowery: No. 50 (6-2, 225)
An undersized outside linebacker who showcases a pretty good feel in zone coverage. Is an instinctive player who reads the quarterback’s eyes well, feels routes around and gets good jumps on the football. However, isn’t the type of athlete you would expect from a backer his size. Struggles to get much depth in his drop in coverage, lacks fluidity out of his breaks and doesn’t have the type of range to consistently make plays on the throws off his frame. Isn’t a guy who will be able to hold his own in coverage at the next level.

Also, lacks power at the point of attack when asked to take on linemen in the run game and consistently ends up on the ground. Plays too high into blocks and just doesn’t exhibit the kind of leverage needed to anchor with any kind of consistency vs. the inside run.

Impression: Has a decent feel when asked to read and diagnose at the line of scrimmage, but simply doesn’t have the athleticism or power to consistently win in any area of the game in the NFL.

SS Joe Lefeged: No. 26 (6-1, 205)
Possesses a decent overall frame for the position, but isn’t overly instinctive when asked to read his run/pass keys and doesn’t seem to crave contact in the run game. Never seems to find the football quickly and is slow to attack the line of scrimmage downhill. However, is a decent tackler who does a nice job using his length to wrap up on contact and can generate some real force when he picks up a head of steam. Nevertheless, he lacks range and will see his angles get outpaced at times even at the college level when working in pursuit.

Possesses decent range in his drop and gets good depth initially out of his stance, but struggles to maintain his balance through his back-pedal and struggles to quickly change directions. Has a tendency to bite on play fakes and isn’t overly disciplined when asked to play the deep half. Struggles get back out of his breaks when asked to turn and run and simply lacks range sideline-to-sideline. However, he does exhibit some savvy as a blitzer, timing up blocks inside and exploding through daylight from the secondary.

Impression: Will flash here and there, but lacks the kind of range and instincts needed to be trusted to play in an NFL secondary.

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