This week, with the season past its halfway point and seniors building a case for continuing their careers on the next level, we introduced the ITL Sleeper Report. We’ll use our weekly report to check in on players that play often-unsexy positions, usually at less-than-exciting schools. These are not players that will be first-rounders, but players that could nonetheless spend several years in the league as unsung workers that help create a team’s foundation without drawing headlines.
Our two evaluators, Danny Shimon and Todd Therrien, were recommended to us by Dan Hatman of The Scouting Academy, a service that trains the next generation of NFL scouts. We asked Danny and Todd to find players who weren’t featured on any Websites and to offer insights that were theirs alone. In other words, they are giving their opinions on one player each without a lifeline — these are their evaluations, solely. Unlike so many ‘Internet scouts,’ they’re sticking their necks out for players they believe in, without a net. We published their reports Thursday, and will continue to bring them to our clients each Thursday this month, and perhaps beyond. We’ll also bring select reports to Succeed in Football.
Without further ado, here’s their work for this week:
|Brown, Blair (Ohio)|
|Position||LB (4-3 Will/3-4 IB)|
Strong Points – Brown is a fast-flow LB who shoots gaps and fills with speed and power. Plays with great lateral quickness and awareness, and can read reach-blocks of the OL to cut off the outside zone. Brown diagnoses the run game and reads pulling guards in power and counter schemes exceptionally. Brown’s downhill, physical demeanor makes him above-average at meeting the pulling blocker in the hole at the line of scrimmage. Brown is physical and violent when it comes to ripping underneath blocks at the POA, making it difficult for offensive linemen to sink to his level and stay engaged. Brown is a high-risk player on the field, often shooting gaps recklessly, resulting in him playing out of position with disregard to his assignment. He plays with great situational and conceptual awareness, spilling blocks out to where his help is in run support.
Weak Points –Brown’s lack of size results in him getting swallowed up in blocks of long-armed offensive linemen. His “run first” demeanor has shown to get him in trouble, biting on play-action pass concepts, and getting caught not dropping to his zone. Brown plays poor in man coverage, and is far too stiff when playing in open space. Brown possesses a strength in timing up pressures very well, hitting them on the run and baits offensive linemen out of position when blitzing. He consistently rakes and rips at the ball when he’s cleaning up ballcarriers, forcing a lot of fumbles. Brown has a nose for the football, and is an above-average tackler both inside the box and in open space, consistently wrapping up runners and finishing tackles. Brown could be a liability in the passing game, which does not pair well with under-sized, two-down linebackers. Although Brown was a consistent contributor to the Ohio Bobcats for four years, starting all games for his final two years, he has not played against top-tier competition consistently.
Summation: Overall, Brown is an athletic, sideline-to-sideline run-stopper, who better helps the pass defense by rushing the QB with blitzes, inside or off the edge.
Todd Therrien’s Projection: Late-rounder/undrafted free agent
|Spencer, Joseph (Illinois)|
|Strong Points – Three-year starter, team captain and an Academic All-Big Ten member twice. Leader along the offensive line, able to call out protections, and identify blitzers. Quick out of his stance able to move his feet and play with good balance. Gets his hands inside the defensive lineman’s chest and can stay in front of his defender. Demonstrates good awareness, able to release primary assignment and help with oncoming rusher. Will chip block then release to get out to defenses second level. Average run blocker who can seal off a defender and create a lane for runner to go through. Competitive player who will finish his blocks once he has his man on the ground – they do not get up. Has position versatility as he can play both center or guard positions.|
|Weak Points – Possesses limited lateral agility and strength. Can get over powered, and out leveraged at the point of contact. Was asked to retreat block and “catch” defenders rather than explode into them, so on tape we never see him roll his hips and demonstrate his strength. Has limited flexibility and shows some lower body stiffness.|
|Summation – Spencer is a cerebral, competitive, interior lineman who has three-years of starting experience, in a power five conference, and offers position flexibility as he can play both center and guard along the offensive line. He is assignment sound and aware. Spencer wins with good snap-and-step quickness to get his hands quickly on the defenders and steer them. Spencer is an average athlete who lacks lateral quickness, and lower body flexibility. His inability to anchor at the point of attack will allow defenders to overpower him and collapse the pocket. He is unable to sustain his blocks for an extended period, and will allow penetrators to pierce his edges quickly.
Danny Shimon’s Projection: Late-rounder/undrafted free agent