2012 NFL Draft Scouting Report: Lavonte David

  • Blazing speed
  • Excellent instincts
  • Extremely reliable tackler
  • Uses good tackling technique to wrap up ball-carrier
  • Very athletic
  • Read-and-react skills
  • Fabulous run defender
  • Can flip his hips to run with receivers
  • Phenomenal in man coverage on tight ends, running backs
  • Hard hitter
  • Muscular
  • Physical player
  • Regularly generates splash plays
  • Produces good down-and-distance situations
  • Quality blitzer
  • Three-down linebacker
  • Durable
  • Experienced 2-year starter
  • Could star on special teams

  • Undersized
  • Probably can’t add much weight
  • Will have to work on taking on blocks
  • Only a 4-3 player
  • Only an outside linebacker
  • Intelligence?

    Summary: David is an example of a prospect where you have to disregard the measurements and trust your eyes when you see that the guy is a pure football player. At Nebraska, David was a monster linebacker. He was all over the field, and it was impossible to ignore how much he impacted the game.

    David is a tackling machine and a real force against the run. He consistently produced good down-and-distance situations with tackles near the line of scrimmage. He is an extremely fast defender with very good instincts to get in position to be around the ball. Even though he is undersized, he is a physical player who doesn’t get pushed around. On the contrary, David dishes out some hard tackles and has no issue tackling bigger backs.

    As a senior, David totaled 133 tackles with two interceptions, 12 tackles for a loss, 5.5 sacks and three forced fumbles. David sparked the Cornhuskers’ comeback win over Ohio State when he stripped the ball away from a running back. In another contest, he had a one-man defensive stand against Penn State to seal a win for Nebraska. He was one of the few Cornhusker players who matched up well against Wisconsin and South Carolina.

    David will have to play in a 4-3 defense in the NFL because of his size. He could fit just about any 4-3 as a Will linebacker. He is a perfect scheme fit in a Tampa 2-based defense as a Will. The way that he covers tight ends and other receivers out of the backfield is an exact fit for this system. His blazing speed also allows him to be a dangerous blitzer.

    At the Senior Bowl, David had a quality week. After practice, he was meeting with one team and I overheard this exchange:

    Scout: What’s your biggest strength?

    David: I would say my smartness.

    While David is not a perfect prospect by any means, he is a pure football player who will reward whichever team drafts him. David should also be a real demon on special teams. If he were a couple of inches taller and 15-20 pounds heavier, he would be a first-round pick. As it stands, David should be a second-day pick this April.

    Player Comparison: D.J. Williams. I was tempted to put down Derrick Brooks, but I generally don’t like to compare prospects to Hall of Fame-caliber players. David’s game is similar to Brooks, and they are close to the same size. Of current NFL players, David’s game is also similar to Williams’. They both are speedy playmakers who fly around the football field. David is smaller than Williams, but both are well-rounded run and pass defenders.

    NFL Matches: Tampa Bay, Cleveland, Chicago, Tennessee, Detroit, New York Giants, Oakland

    One major thing that hurts David’s draft stock is he is only a fit in a 4-3, and there are very few Tampa-2 defenses left in the NFL. Fortunately David can function well in other 4-3 defenses. The Buccaneers would be a natural fit for David if they didn’t make a coaching change. Greg Schiano will run a 4-3 defense, but it is unclear what type scheme the Bucs will have and how well David will mesh with it.

    The Browns could use an outside linebacker like David to pair with D’Qwell Jackson and Chris Gocong. David would be a nice addition to their run defense. He would be a great scheme fit in Chicago, as their linebackers are getting old.

    The Titans are looking at linebackers and could use a Will linebacker to go with 2011 draft picks Colin McCarthy and Akeem Ayers. David could form a dangerous trio with them. Detroit needs some youth at linebacker, and David should fit their defense well. The Giants like standout athletes with big-time production, and David fits that criteria while also fitting their 4-3 defense.

    The Raiders may land a compensatory pick at the end of the second day of the 2012 NFL Draft. Oakland was showing a lot of interest in David at the Senior Bowl, and if he falls, he could be a match for the Raiders if they are awarded a pick in the top 100.


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