Every year there are a few players that fall victim to injury and the entire NFL draft community forgets about them. This year those players are Eddie Jackson (Alabama) and Jalen Reeves-Maybin (Tennessee). However, I can assure you, NFL teams haven’t forgotten about Reeves-Maybin and there is going to be one lucky team who gets a steal on day two or three of the NFL draft.
The NFL has continued to evolve into this passing league forcing defenses to line up in their nickel and dime sub packages for over 60% of the snaps. It’s imperative that NFL defenses adapt by acquiring fast, rangy, and instinctive football players, specifically at the linebacker position. Reeves-Maybin is your chess piece in today’s NFL, he’s instinctive vs the run, and rangy when asked to drop in coverage. After an injury riddled Senior season, the former running back/quarterback has suddenly become one of the biggest sleepers in this years NFL draft.
Name: Jalen Reeves-Maybin
Pro Comparison: Lavonte David (Tampa Bay Bucs)
Draft Grade: Round 2
Instincts/Reactive Skills: Former high school RB and QB with a great understanding of the game. Some of the best read and react skills in the entire class. First one to the football and other teammates follow. You’ll frequently see JRM lining up teammates pre-snap as if he already knows where the play is going. Very apparent he puts in the film study and trusts his natural instincts. Will sometimes guess incorrectly when shooting a gap but guesses correctly more times than not.
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— Steve (@SteveDraft_) March 21, 2017
Coverage: Rangy, aware, and instinctive when asked to drop in coverage. Will absolutely thrive in a dime linebacker role in today’s NFL. Has the ability to cover RB’s out in the flat and run with TE’s down field. Spent most of his freshman season competing at a safety role giving him more experience in coverage. Consistently blows up screen plays by reading and reacting different keys pre-snap.
Tackling: Reliable when asked to tackle in open space. Demonstrates excellent form when taking on running backs in the open field. Possesses the short area quickness to weave in and out of traffic, to make plays in between the tackles and in the back field. Calculated risk taker when it comes to the big hits, he will really lay the hammer down when the time is right. Average/below average arm length for an ILB, proper form and instincts mitigate most of his size deficiencies.
Toughness/Motor: Tried to play through a serious shoulder injury in 2016 before ultimately shutting it down. Will run down hill and strike iron when necessary. Motor is consistently running for all four quarters. Only 230 pounds but doesn’t shy away from contact.
Take-On/Shed Skills: Uses his flexibility and COD skills to weave in and around traffic but will also take offensive lineman head on. Excellent understanding of run fits and maintains leverage forcing the ball carriers back to the inside. Will need to continue to get stronger in order to take on the bigger and more athletic offensive lineman in the NFL.
Short Area Quickness/COD: Flexible and quick in short areas. Can click and close like a defensive back when asked to drop into coverage. Quick accelerator with an excellent motor allowing him to cover from sideline to sideline.
Strengths: 3 down LB who can thrive in a number of roles. Former high school quarterback and college safety which attributes to his elite reactive skills and instincts. Reliable and tough tackler who will impact the game on all 3 downs and special teams. Ultimate chess piece in today’s NFL with the ability to cover offensive weapons, spy dual-threat quarterbacks and blitz quarterbacks on any down.
Weaknesses: Short in height and arm length. Below average size for a traditional NFL linebacker. He could have issues in between the tackles when asked to consistently take on offensive lineman. Shoulder injury in 2016.