Archive for April, 2012

Final Mock Draft

Posted: April 26, 2012 in Uncategorized

1) Indiannapolis Colts: QB Andrew Luck

2) Washington Redskins: QB Robert Griffin III

3) Cleveland Browns (via MN): RB Trent Richardson

4) Minnesota Vikings(via TB): OT Matt Kalil

5) Tampa Bay Bucanneers: CB Morris Clairborne

6) St. Louis Rams: DT Fletcher Cox

7) Jacksonville Jaguars: WR Justin Blackmon

8) Miami Dolphins: QB Ryan Tannehill

9) Carolina Panthers: CB Stephon Gilmore

10) New York Jets (via BUF): WR Michael Floyd

11) Kansas City Chiefs: G David DeCastro

12)Seattle Seahawks: LB/DE Melvin Ingram

13) Detroit Lions (via ARZ): S Mark Barron

14) Dallas Cowboys: DT/DE Michael Brockers

15) Philadelphia Eagles: DT Dontari Poe

16) Buffallo Bills (via NJY): OT Riley Reiff

17) Cincinnati Bengals: CB Dre Kirkpatrick

18) San Diego Chargers: LB/DE Whitney Mercilus

19) Chicago Bears: DE Quinton Coples

20) Tennessee Titans: LB Luke Kuechly

21) Cincinnati Bengals: OT/OG Cordy Glenn

22) Cleveland Browns: QB Brandon Weeden

23) Arizona Cardinals (via DET): LB/DE Courtney Upshaw

24) Pittsburgh Steelers: LB Dont’a Hightower

25) Denver Broncos: DT Jerel Worthy

26) Houston Texans: WR Kendall Wright

27) New England Patriots: LB Shea McClellin

28) Green Bay Packers: DE/OLB Nick Perry

29) Baltimore Ravens: DE Chandler Jones

30) San Francisco 49ers: G Kevin Zeitler

31) New England Patriots: CB Janoris Jenkins

32) New York Giants: RB Doug Martin

Rico Wallace has NFL size and length and absolutely posesses NFL size and ability despite only playing at the Division III level.

Wide receiver Rico Wallace doesn’t come from a big time school or football program. He doesn’t even come from a universitymany are familiar with or have heard of for that matter. Shenandoah University is a small school tucked away between the mountains of Virginia, in a quiet and reserved setting. One of the last places you would expect a potential NFL prospect to emerge out of, Rico Wallace has worked and earned his way into being considered a draftable prospect by many teams who will be selecting their next young batch of players to lead their respective teams into the future only one week from now. Rico is just hoping for the opportunity to be drafted but even if that does not come to fruition he knows he has the heart and determination to make it as an undrafted free agent. His attitude and perseverance is something that shines through the moment you begin speaking with this young man. Rico is a person who was brought up on hard work and always putting your best foot forward in everything you do. He’s received a lot of strength and personable qualities from his mother who he claims is the “strongest person he knows”. However, NFL teams are questioning the level of competition Rico played at and it has proved to be difficult to show that he belongs and deserves to be drafted.

Despite his immense potential and physical skill-set, Rico did not earn a combine invite, nor the opportunity to play in one of the many all-star game circuits that happen following the collegiate season. Instead Rico’s first opportunity came when he was given the chance to attend and participate in the BSN Showcase in Akron, Ohio. Here Rico shined in individual one-on-one drills where many talent evaluators on hand said he looked smooth and fluid running his routes, noting how seamlessly he acclimated himself to the increase in the level of competition. It was after Rico’s performance in the BSN Showcase that he started to gain some attention outside of the very few die-hard draft fans and scouts who were aware of his name before. Nonetheless it was from this point on that Rico has begun to create some headway for himself, as numerous teams have shown interest in him since then. Measuring in at 6-3 210 lbs, Rico possesses very good size and length to play the position in the NFL. His production at Shenandoah improved from year to year, as Rico transitioned from the position of quarterback in high school to wide receiver, where he has been re-writing the record books at Shenandoah University. This past season Rico led the USA Southern Athletic Conference in nearly every major statistical category as he dominated the conference in everything from receptions and touchdowns to yards per game and yards per reception.

Despite this dominate performance Rico has earned little fan fare to this point. Considering that since 1991, only 15 players have been drafted from the Division III ranks, you begin to understand what he is up against. From recent pro prospects like wide receivers Pierre Garcon and Cecil Shorts, who came from Division III Mount Union, to more established NFL players like linebacker London Fletcher and running back Fred Jackson. These particular players have proved that nothing is impossible and it doesn’t matter where you came from as long as you can play, and in the end that’s all that matters. In fact when you do a simple comparison between Pierre Garcon’s senior season and Rico Wallace’s, you find that Mr. Wallace’s numbers exceed that of his fellow Division III wide receiver counterpart. Garcon had 67 receptions for 955 yards and 14 tds’, while Wallace accounted for 67 receptions, 1241 yards and 14 td’s. Their numbers are eerily similar, however Garcon played for what many consider to be a Division III powerhouse in Mount Union, while Shenandoah has not quite yet found the same type of success. Nonetheless, for simple comparison sake it is extremely evident that Rico Wallace did in fact dominate the completion at the Division III level, which is what you like to see from a player emerging from the lower ranks. In fact, this past season Mr. Wallace had a game for the ages in which he accounted for 5 td’s! I personally have little doubt that Rico Wallace has what it takes to make it in the NFL as I have seen a player that consistently shows up on tape and exudes rare skills for a Division III prospect. Sure, he has a learning curve and things to improve upon, such as his strength and route running ability but how many wide receivers coming out of college don’t have something to improve upon? Rico has an unbelievable amount of upside and a very high ceiling and scouts, fans and general managers are finally beginning to see that when they break down the film of this talented receiver. Rico was nice enough to sit down with us the other day and share his journey to this point, as well as catch us up to speed on some of the things we may have missed while enjoying other more highly sought after prospects.

Brandon Holstein: Tell me about your childhood or upbringing and what initially drew you to the game of football?

Rico Wallace: Well, basically I grew up with five brothers and my mom and I guess the thing that drew me most to the game was the competitiveness about it. I also appreciate the team camaraderie that is associated with the game.

Brandon Holstein: Tell me what it was like growing up with five older brothers, I understand that you are the youngest, is that correct?

Rico Wallace: Yeah, you know it was a fun experience. The older ones were able to set a good example for me and the younger ones who were closer to my age were more relatable. The older ones were also a little more wiser and had more experience and things so it was just really fun to learn and do things with them all growing up.

Brandon Holstein: I understand that your mother is a very important person in your life, tell me some of the qualities you have taken from her and some of the things she has taught you along the way?

Rico Wallace: Yeah definitely, my mother is one of the strongest people I know. I think the thing I get from her most is her positive attitude and the way she handles any tough situation thrown her way.

Brandon Holstein: What do you think your greatest strength as a wide receiver is and what do you pride yourself the most on regarding your overall game?

Rico Wallace: I would say learning quickly and using my natural instincts to my advantage as far as just getting myself into the best position possible to make a play. To me that’s the hardest thing about being a receiver and it’s something I take great pride in and think I do exceptionally well.

Brandon Holstein: What do you perceive is your biggest weakness and what have you been doing to improve upon that?

Rico Wallace: As far as the next level is concerned I think I need to work a little more on my speed. I’ve been doing a lot of speed and resistance training to get faster and quicker.

Brandon Holstein: It seemed to me when watching film of you that you ran what some might consider to be a limited route tree at Shenandoah. How comfortable and confident are you in your route running abilities?

Rico Wallace: Yes, we actually run more routes during practice and that kind of thing but you see a lot of that when you’re watching my highlight tape as far as the big over-the-top type plays. However, you see more of my ability to run a full NFL route tree when you watch more game film as opposed to some of the film that’s out there of me on the internet.

Brandon Holstein: What’s been the biggest challenge for you coming from a small Division III school like Shenandoah and why do you believe you can make the leap in competition to the NFL?

Rico Wallace: That’s one of the things I’m most proud of, as far as my ability to play up to the level of competition I am competing against. I’m just a naturally competitive person so I’m sure that once I get to the next level I am confident I can step my game up and compete at that elite level.

Brandon Holstein: Tell me about how you ended up at Shenandoah and if you were heavily recruited out of high school?

Rico Wallace: I had a couple different division one schools that showed interest in me but never really followed up with me regarding the recruitment process. I ended up going on different visits but Shenandoah seemed like the best fit for me.

Brandon Holstein: If you don’t mind me asking or sharing with us which schools had expressed interest in you coming out of high school?

Rico Wallace: The first school that came and talked to me was Navy in Annapolis; the coach from Maryland also came and talked to me and also some schools like Villanova, Sacred Hart and Delaware State from the Division IAA level also showed some interest.

Brandon Holstein: You recently participated in the James Madison Pro-Day on March 16th. How do you think you did and what do you feel you could have done better?

Rico Wallace: I think I did Okay overall, I had another combine type of thing in Akron, Ohio earlier in the year and I think a lot of the numbers kind of matched up with how I did there. As far as what I could have improved upon, I think I could have done a little bit better with my short shuttle time.

Brandon Holstein: What were some of your results or times at the James Madison Pro-Day in terms of the forty yard dash and vertical jump?

Rico Wallace: The forty, I heard a couple scouts had me at a 4.53. And in my vertical I tested out at 37.5 inches.

Brandon Holstein: What would you say motivates or drives you the most?

Rico Wallace: I would have to say my love for the game. You know I just want to play as long as I can and even when I’m done I want to get into coaching, so just being around football makes me happy and it’s what I want to continue to do.

Brandon Holstein: You participated in the BSN Showcase in Akron Ohio, tell me what that experience was like and how well you think you did at that event?

Rico Wallace: First day you know we just went through measurables and that sort of thing, getting our height and weight. The next day we did more of the combine stuff and did some 7 on 7 type drills before participating in the actual game on the last day. It was my first time actually getting out there and doing the combine type stuff officially and I believe they timed me at a 4.55 forty, with a 36 inch vertical and 9-10 ft. broad jump.

Brandon Holstein: What teams would you say have shown the most interest in you to this point; anyone in particular knocking on your door repeatedly during this process?

Rico Wallace: I would say the Carolina Panthers are one team that has shown a good amount of interest. I just got a couple other phone calls recently from the Cleveland Browns, Tennessee Titans and Jacksonville Jaguars as well.

Brandon Holstein: Well that would be quite the trip to play with Cam Newton, what do you think that would be like?

Rico Wallace: Oh man, you know that would be crazy! To have the opportunity to play alongside someone I admire and who has started off their professional career the right way, I think it would be a trip to sort of grow up together basically in that system.

Brandon Holstein: One of the things I notice when watching film of yours is the effort you give as a blocker; is that something you take pride in as a receiver and why is that?

Rico Wallace: Absolutely, you know half of a receiver’s game is blocking unless you’re in a pass heavy offense. I believe that you should never let your man make the tackle and I definitely take pride in doing that because if my man makes the tackle than I feel like I’m letting the whole offense down.

Brandon Holstein: One of the things that gets’ asked of young players is their ability to play Special Teams. What kind of ability do you think you have in this area and how comfortable are you contributing in that capacity to begin your career?

Rico Wallace: You know when it comes to blocking I feel the same way, whenever the ball is in the air or whatever I like to think no matter which way I get on the field I’m always going to give my best effort.

Brandon Holstein: What round(s) have you been hearing you might be selected in? How high have you heard your name going and how far do you think you could drop?

Rico Wallace: The highest that I’ve heard is the 5th round and then, you know, the lowest is an undrafted free agent.

Brandon Holstein: If it turned out you did become an undrafted free agent how would you handle that and what would be you do from there?

Rico Wallace: To me it’s pretty much all the same whether you get drafted or not, it’s what you do once you get your chance and either way I’m just going to make sure I come there prepared and do my best.

Brandon Holstein: Looking back on your career at Shenandoah what are you most proud of?

Rico Wallace: I guess you know going through my four years it would be setting a good example for the younger players and kind of being that positive role model for them. I would say that’s definitely one of the things I take most pride in.

Brandon Holstein: I’ve been in contact with your agent Ryan Earls over at Cover 3 Reps, tell me why you chose to go with him and what that experience has been like to this point?

Rico Wallace: Yeah, I went with them because I like Ryan’s personality. He’s very outgoing and he’s definitely somebody that is very ambitious about what he’s passionate about, which is being an agent and understanding how the whole process works. He’s been very helpful and instrumental in teaching me some of the things that I wasn’t as aware about, so he has been a big help and great agent. Just getting to know him you can tell he has a very family like mentality and is very knowledgeable when it comes to explaining to me how things work so you can tell he is well versed an educated.

Brandon Holstein: The next set of questions are kind of rapid fire questions just to get a better feel for your personality away from the football field so here we go, the first one is what would be your last meal if you had to choose?

Rico Wallace: A last meal? (Laughs) Oh that’s tough! I would say…wow (laughs again)

Brandon Holstein: Are you a barbeque guy or what’s your preference (laughing)?

Rico Wallace: You know I don’t know I like a lot of things but I would have to say just steak you know?

Brandon Holstein: Okay, okay so steak? Any other side condiments at all in there?

Rico Wallace: Oh no, I mean if the steaks seasoned well I’ll eat just that as is (laughs).

Brandon Holstein: Alright, alright (laughing) the next one is your favorite movie of all time?

Rico Wallace: Toy Story.

Brandon Holstein: And why is that?

Rico Wallace: You know I like the different emotions that it goes through. I like, you know the soundtrack and the music and all that so…when it came out it was just one of a kind.

Brandon Holstein: I know where you’re coming from, that was a favorite of mine growing up as well so good choice there. What’s your favorite kind of music or favorite song of all time?

Rico Wallace: I listen to rap and R&B but I also listen to a couple other different genres and I guess if I was to choose a favorite song I would say Michael Jackson’s, “Dirty Diana”.

Brandon Holstein: Nice, I can dig that…what would you say you are most excited about in the NFL?

Rico Wallace:  I think it’s just exciting to focus specifically on football. It will be nice not having to worry about classes and such and just going to work and focuses on my craft. I think it will be very exciting to learn the game a lot more, especially with professional coaches with professional trainers. I feel like I have a high ceiling, so I feel like I can get a lot better yet with proper coaching and things like that.

Brandon Holstein: Definitely, who was your favorite team growing up?

Rico Wallace: Oh, I mean I was a big Tampa Bay Buccaneers fan growing up.

Brandon Holstein: Any particular reason why?

Rico Wallace: I always liked their defense. Even though I play offense I love a good defense. When I was watching them growing up they had players like John Lynch, Warren Sapp, Derrick Brooks and Ronde Barber on the defense and that group was just always making plays on that side of the ball.

Brandon Holstein: Just a side question here but who do you emulate your game after and what one player in the NFL do you feel is your best comparison?

Rico Wallace: I would say Larry Fitzgerald. He’s a guy that I’ve watched a lot and I like how he trains and stuff. He’s somebody I would definitely like to play like and model my game after.

Brandon Holstein: Last question for you here Rico. What are your plans for draft day and what’s it going to be like for you?

Rico Wallace: I just plan on spending my day at home in Maryland with my family. Me and my girlfriend are going to go home and just try and spend time with them and hopefully I hear my name called and get that phone call so we can all celebrate together.

Brandon Holstein: Well we wish you the best of luck Rico and hope you get that phone call you’re hoping for as well. We want to thank you for taking the time out of your busy schedule to speak with us here at NFL Draft Monsters and we can’t wait to follow your path to the NFL and professional career.

Rico Wallace: Alright, yeah thanks!

As you can tell by the conversation above, Rico Wallace is an extremely humble and appreciative guy. He’s soft spoken, yet he’s a confident player and person who believes in himself and the abilities he has as a wide receiver. I personally love players who are humble and not full of themselves and I could tell instantaneously that Rico is not one to boast or brag about how skilled he is. Instead, Rico is the type of player who lets his play on the field do the talking and he comes across as a team player who is willing to do whatever he can to help his team out. This is the type of player you can feel confident about taking in the middle to late rounds to develop and mature as an all around receiver. Some of the qualities I appreciate most about Rico’s game are his efforts as a blocker, his catching radius, his ability to track the deep ball and adjust to off target passes, body control and natural hands. To me, Rico is exceptional in every one of these areas and absolutely deserves to be drafted. I have included some highlight videos of Rico below and encourage you to check them out and see just why Rico Wallace has the potential to make the lead from Division III to the pro ranks. Rico Wallace has a lot going for him and we at NFL Draft Monsters personally cannot wait to hear his name called on draft weekend and see what team might be getting one of the better steals in this entire draft.

Thanks for reading my interview and spotlight piece on Shenandoah wide receiver Rico Wallace.-

– Brandon

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=40v0ijv3GDQ

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FWmlJssUClA

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=U1lJzwh-QGg

This past weekend I had the opportunity to sit down with NFL Draft hopeful and former Northern Iowa linebacker LJ Fort.Fort led the FCS this past season in tackles (184) and also accounted for an astounding 14.15 tackles per game. LJ is an athletic linebacker with range, who says he plays much bigger than his size (6-1 230 lbs.) would indicate. LJ puts his heart, determination, and passion into everything he does and what I found from our interview is a player and person who is eager, anxious and excited to prove he has what it takes to make it both on and off the football field. His interests and passions in life are far reaching from the football field and I feel extremely fortunate to have had the pleasure to sit down with LJ and learn a little bit more about him and what makes him tick.

 Brandon Holstein: At What age did you become involved in the game of football and how quickly did you fall in love with it?

LJ Fort: I actually started playing football in Hawaii because my parents were in the military so we traveled everywhere. A couple Samoans would always be playing football outside in the yard so that’s where I first started playing football, was with those big Samoans where you had to run for your life basically.

Brandon Holstein: You come from a pretty big family LJ with a military and athletic background, how competitive of a person did this make you growing up?

LJ Fort: Yes sir, pretty big family with four kids and they all ran track, went to state and my mom also went to state in high school too for track. I was the oldest of the kids so I didn’t really compete with any of them specifically but there was always competition within my family growing up.

Brandon Holstein: LJ, I found out that you are very passionate about the bible and your religion; can you tell us a little bit about where this came from and what draws you to the lord?

LJ Fort: I’ve always grown up in the church and my mom made it a point for us to attend church every Wednesday and Thursday. Then I got to college and I just knew that I needed Jesus Christ, so once I made the decision to make him a part of my life I found a whole new purpose for myself and it’s been amazing ever since.

Brandon Holstein: One of my Twitter followers wanted to get your reaction from this verse: “Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I fear no evil, for you are with me.” Can you expand on this passage a little bit and let me know what it means to you?

LJ Fort: Absolutely, I love that passage. I believe that Jesus is demonstrating how to pray and I just love how he uses that context to let you know that whatever you are going through personally he is right there with you.

Brandon Holstein: So if football didn’t work out for you LJ, do you think this is something you would pursue, as far as following your religion or maybe even the ministry?

LJ Fort: Definitely, that’s one of my goals in the future to run a youth ministry camp. Right now I also volunteer at the Boys and Girls Club and I am also the leader at a small group for my football team.

Brandon Holstein: You lead the FCS in tackles with a school record 184 this past season LJ; can you tell me how you were able to be so effective and efficient in consistently finding and taking down the ball carrier?

LJ Fort: Yeah, I have to give most of that credit to my linebacker coach, Javon Dewitt who helped me over the summer. I wasn’t really satisfied with my play my Junior season and I knew I was better than that so I went to him and he broke down tape just for me and really did a good job coaching me on specific techniques that made a world of a difference in my game and it showed my Senior year.

Brandon Holstein: So it seems like you were really able to put everything together this year, would you attribute this to more time spent in the film or weight rooms or do you think most of it came from the coaching you received?

LJ Fort: No, I mean I have always put in the work so I know it wasn’t that. But it was mostly just little technique stuff like how to take on a blocker and shedding them differently as well as taking a good first step and not false stepping or anything like that to give me that split-second advantage to get a better angle to make the tackle.

Brandon Holstein: You were a running back in high school LJ, how do you think this helped you as far as your transition to the defense side of the football in college?

LJ Fort: I played both offense and defense in high school so it wasn’t as big of a transition but being a running back is definitely a position where you have to be more athletic and I would have to say that is the forte of how I play the linebacker position.

Brandon Holstein: Can you touch on what you believe your greatest strength is as a linebacker and do you believe you can play all three downs in the NFL?

LJ Fort: Definitely the best part of my game is my athletic ability to get to the ball carrier as fast as I can. My first step and acceleration are two of the things that are the best part of my game. The first two downs in football is all just mental and it doesn’t matter how big you are if you have the mentality that you’re the biggest out there then that’s how you are going to play.

 

Brandon Holstein: What would you say is the one aspect of your game that you need to improve the most on and what you have been doing to get better at that specific thing?

LJ Fort: I would have to say probably my point of attack and dealing with how to disengage after a lineman is able to get their hands on me. Just learning how to get off those blocks because most of the time my quickness is enough to get around them but on draw plays and things like that they are able to climb right up on you and you don’t necessarily have that advantage on them, so that’s probably the one area of my game I need to improve most in.

Brandon Holstein: What would you say motivates or inspires you the most LJ?

LJ Fort: First and foremost is just playing for the glory of god and just playing to make his name known. And secondly just that gift that I have and just being able to take advantage of that because there are people out there that can’t even walk, so just playing for those people motivates me. Also, my family of course.

Brandon Holstein: Do you consider yourself to be a natural leader on the field LJ and how do you draw or bring inspiration out of your teammates on the field?

LJ Fort: When I get on the field I flip a switch and I just get so intense and emotional. I’m just so focused on winning I turn into a different person. I don’t know, I’m just like extremely intense on the field and just making sure my teammates and myself are doing everything we can to win.

Brandon Holstein: Do you think you can make an impact on special teams early on in your career and do you think you have the experience to help out in this aspect of the game?

LJ Fort: I made sure I was on special teams this year and for much of my collegiate career so that was really fun because I love kickoffs. Special teams is all just mental and really comes down to if you’re ready to hit somebody in the mouth or not. I love being a head hunter out there so special teams is a favorite of mine.

Brandon Holstein: You’re listed at about 6-1 230 lbs. which some consider to be a little undersized for an NFL linebacker. How do you back that up and what do you say when people question how you will hold up in the NFL due to your limited size?

LJ Fort: It’s all a mentality thing, like I said before if you play like you are 250 lbs. then you will play that way. When you play with that mentality you will always be that much better.

Brandon Holstein: These next set of questions are designed to get to know you a little bit away from the football field better so the first one here  is, what is your favorite type of food and if you had to choose a last meal what would it be?

LJ Fort: Ah man that’s a really good question (laughing). Man, there isn’t nothing better than some ribs and some cheese cake piled up.

Brandon Holstein: Really? Some cheesecake huh (laughing)? Do you like putting cherries on your cheesecake too?

LJ Fort: Oh yeah, got to have that (laughs).

Brandon Holstein: If we were to look at your Ipod what kind of music would we find?

LJ Fort: Aw man I listen to a bit of everything. From country to rap, rock I just like it all. Lot of Christian music as well.

Brandon Holstein: I’m actually a country guy myself; do you have a favorite artist or song you would like to share with us?

LJ Fort: I actually got to meet Luke Bryan this year so that was quite the experience.

Brandon Holstein: Oh yeah? How did you get to meet him?

LJ Fort: He and Jason Aldean actually came to Cedar Falls to do a concert and we were working it so we got to take a picture with them and meet them so that was pretty cool.

Brandon Holstein: Awesome, awesome, he’s a great artist. What would you say is your favorite movie of all time?

LJ Fort: Man that’s crazy (laughs). I have so many. I’ll have to go with 300.

Brandon Holstein: 300 the Spartan movie? You just really like the action and fighting and all that?

LJ Fort: Yeah. Remember the Titans would have to be up there as well

Brandon Holstein: What was your favorite NFL team and player growing up and why?

LJ Fort: My favorite team was the Chicago Bears just because all my family is from Chicago. My favorite player of all time is Charles Woodson and that’s why I wear number 24 my whole entire football career.

Brandon Holstein: Okay, okay so you like Chuck? He’s a great athlete I mean that guy is pretty ageless, I don’t know if he is ever going to slow down and stop creating turnovers (laughing). I’m actually a Detroit Lions fan so I’m waiting for the day he retires in all honesty, even though he did go to Michigan. I mean I love him and respect him but he’s just so darn good you know?

LJ Fort: Yeah, he’s a turnover machine.

Brandon Holstein: exactly.

Brandon Holstein: Last question here LJ. Where will you be for draft day and who will be watching with you?

LJ Fort: I’ll just be with some of my other teammates that have a chance of being drafted or picked up by teams, so just hanging out with them and taking in all the excitement and stuff.

Brandon Holstein: Absolutely. Well we wish you the best of luck LJ and good luck this weekend. We hope to hear your name called at some point, I know I will be cheering for you so we just want to wish you the best of luck from all of us here at NFL Draft Monsters and we look forward to following your career, whether that’s on the football field or away from it.

LJ Fort: Hey thanks, I appreciate your time so thank you!

-Thank you for reading my interview with Northern Iowa LB LJ Fort, I hope you enjoyed it!-

– Brandon

Size: Measured in at the combine at a stout 6-2 271 lbs. and has been said to have gained 10 lbs. of muscle in preparation for the scouting combine in hopes of staying at the defensive end position in the NFL. Nick Perry has a thick upper and lower half and is a very well proportioned athlete, as it is very evident that he has put in the time, effort and energy in the weight room to develop his athletic looking frame. With that said his frame appears to be nearly maxed out as there is little room on his body to add much more weight. Perry also possesses only average length with 33 inch arms but regularly gets the most out of his body thanks to his explosive athleticism and superb body control.

Nick Perry is a naturally explosive athlete with an impressive first step and strong upper body. Perry's potential to convert speed to power is a rare quality and something that makes him a unique and enticing prospect from a pass rushing perspective.

Pass Rush/Quickness:  Very good first step quickness (1.57 10 yard split). Has active and violent hands capable of slapping away his opponents attempt to corral him. Flexibility is only average and he struggles to get much bend and dip underneath his opponents shoulder pads when running the arc as he shows some stiffness in his torso and ankles. Shows good snap awareness and timing as he routinely coils out of his stance and explodes up-field with nice initial quickness. Understands hand placement and gains inside positioning quickly thanks to impressive array of hand to hand combat techniques making it very hard to sustain blocks for an extended period of time. Nick Perry has great body control and is natural playing with his hand in the dirt while working in confined areas thanks to his impressive short area burst and closing speed. Possesses a scary combination of speed and power and converts the two with relative ease. Needs refinement in this area but the potential he possesses here affords him the opportunity to keep his opponent off balanced and constantly guessing what move Perry will use next. Needs to develop a greater pass rush arsenal but flashes a useful spin move on occasion. Parlaying between his natural explosive speed and power makes him a difficult assignment to contain, game plan and prepare for. Offensive tackles must respect his speed and power and if Perry can do a better job of switching up the two and utilizing more useful pass rush moves like an up and under he could be a force off the edge for quite some time. Constantly collapses the pocket and narrows room/space for quarterback to move and work within. Not an overly sudden player but effective change of direction skills makes it hard to get and keep hands on him for an extended period of time. Does a nice job getting his hands up in passing windows when he can’t get to the quarterback and shows nice ball awareness in passing situations.

Run Defense: Solid upper body strength (35 reps @ 225) with a nice base, core strength and balance to anchor upon contact and hold the point against the run. Needs to do a better job fighting off blocks, especially against double teams as he struggles to disengage and find the football at times. Fires out of stance low and gets good initial push thanks to impressive power and explosion throughout his upper and lower body. First step quickness affords Perry the ability to get into/under his opponents pads quickly, showcasing impressive pop on contact and capable of knocking his opponent on their heels. Powerful and explosive player who does not shy away from contact as he jolts his opposition with a strong punch. Plays with disciplined leverage techniques and takes solid angles to the football and gives nice chase/effort on nearly every play. Mirrors, slides and shuffles his feet well laterally when moving to his left or right to follow the play and keep contain. Needs to learn how to disengage and find the football as he has a tendency to drop his head and miss on opportunities to make a play. Has the tools to get better in this area just needs more time and coaching.

Recognition/Awareness/Instincts:  Generally finds and locates the football adequately but can be a split second late at times to diagnose the play/action happening in front of him. Shows better awareness as a pass rusher at this time as he struggles to locate the football when engaged in the phone booth with his opponent against the run. A naturally instinctive playmaker with the wherewithal to find and locate the football routinely and pin point the passers high shoulder when coming off the edge. Disrupts passing lanes and settles into passing zones nicely while dropping into coverage and has an innate awareness to keep the play in front of him while working against the run or pass. Disciplined player who restrains from crashing down and losing outside contain.

Motor/Toughness: Nick Perry is a very durable and dependable guy who missed very little time during his three seasons at USC due to injury. Doesn’t shy away from contact and likes to mix it up in the trenches with the big uglies. Motor is above average to good but he could show a little better hustle and overall conditioning throughout the course of the game. Doesn’t give up on plays and shows adequate pursuit on the backside, although he could give better overall effort in chase at times. Brings it on nearly every play and goes hard from snap to snap. Wouldn’t consider him relentless in this area but he displays a good enough motor to be effective on every play.

Tackling/Coverage: Not overly affective at changing directions fluidly as he is athletic enough to drop into coverage but displays a good degree of tightness in his hips when asked to turn and move in space. Gets a little narrow and upright when moving his feet and would seem to have some man to man limitations as a 3-4 stand-up linebacker as of right now. Would likely face a pretty steep learning curve if drafted to play the 3-4 outside linebacker position but I could see him making the transition with time due to his impressive athleticism, drive and determination. However, I see Perry as being a better overall player as a 4-3 right defensive end due to his overall skill set and believe not only is that where he wants to play but should play given that he is already in his element and comfortable at that position. Where not only will his skills as a pass rusher transfer nicely but also in a more timely and efficient manner for him to make an impact right now. Not overly explosive as a tackler but has the power and strength to lay the wood on occasion. Wraps up nicely and nearly always finishes when he puts himself in good position to make a play and take down the ball carrier.

Intangibles: Has taken very well to coaching and developed/worked on his craft the past three seasons at USC. Fans, coaches and teammates respect his work ethic and desire as he was named USC’s Defensive Lineman of the Year for his play in 2011. Declared for the draft a year early after his Junior season in which he led the Pac-12 with 9.5 sacks on the season and seems to be just scratching the surface of his immense potential. Grew up in inner city Detroit where he led his high school to a state championship in 2007 with an astounding 36 sacks on the season, which was good for a Michigan prep record. Decided to make something out of himself by choosing the game of football over the streets in an area where violence and turmoil was omnipresent. This decision speaks volumes about Nick Perry’s character, persistence and discipline not only as a football player but as a human being, as it would have been easy for him to succumb to the streets and go down the wrong path. Instead Perry chose the game he loves and has been consistently getting better every season thanks to his dedication in the weight and film rooms.

Nick Perry is a superb athlete with a very high ceiling. His combination of explosive power and speed make him a very dangerous weapon coming off the edge and may not be matched by any other single player in this draft. Perry’s explosive first step make him a consistent threat to gain the edge and his ability to utilize his body in space while displaying impressive hand to hand combat techniques is a very crucial skill to possess as a pass rusher. The best fit for Nick Perry in my assessment would be at the right defensive end position in a 4-3 defense and is a perfect fit for a “Wide 9” alignment, like those used by the Philadelphia Eagles and Detroit Lions, due to his impressive first step and up-field pass rush ability. Expect to hear Nick Perry’s named called in the first round as he is certainly one of the premier pass rushers in this draft with the ability and potential to crack the top 20.

-Thanks for reading my scouting report on USC DE/OLB Nick Perry, please feel free to comment below-

  -Brandon-