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April 26, 2011
Several Chippewas could be drafted
Notes: Also earned letters in track and field (three) and hockey (one) as a Wisconsin prep. In 2007, set a Chippewas freshman tackles record by starting all 14 games at middle linebacker and producing 102 stops, seven for loss and one sack with one pass breakup, two interceptions and a forced fumble. Was the Mid-American Conference's leading tackler in '08 when he piled up 148-5˝-˝ with four pass breakups and two forced fumbles in 13 starts at the MLB spot. Moved to the weak side in '09 and posted 132-13-3 with three pass breakups, two interceptions and two forced fumbles in 14 starts. Started 11 games at MLB in '10, registering 90-7-1 with one pass breakup and an interception. Missed the Navy game after having 16 stitches put in his lip following the Western Michigan game (snapped 51-game start streak). Three-year captain. Was a 21-year-old senior.
Positives: Has good mass and strength to play inside. Smart, tough and competitive. Outstanding motor. Good tackler. Works hard in the weight room. Strong intangibles and is an on-field leader. Experienced, productive four-year starter.
Negatives: Short and short-armed - struggles to stack and shed. Stays velcroed on blocks and gets walled off inside. Too much production comes downfield. Average speed and athletic ability and is not sudden or explosive. Is tight in the hips and has limitations in man coverage. Faced mid-major competition. Limited upside.
Summary: Is not the first one you'd want coming off the bus, but has the toughness, instincts and tackling ability sought in a 4-3 "Mike" linebacker and should become a core special-teams player.
NFL projection: Fifth- to sixth-round pick.
DB Vince Agnew
Notes: High school defensive back, receiver and kick returner who also earned letters in track and field (four) and basketball (two) as a Michigan prep. Redshirted in 2006. Appeared in nine games as a reserve safety/special-teams player in '07, recording nine tackles without a pass breakup or interception. Played all 12 games in '08, starting four at safety, and tallied 44-2-0 with half a tackle for loss. Used primarily as a nickel back in '09 when he played all 14 games (two starts at cornerback) and posted 35-5-0 with two blocked kicks. Was the Chippewas' Defensive Player of the Year in '10 when he started all 12 games at cornerback and logged 73-6-1 with 4˝ tackles for loss, one forced fumble and one blocked kick.
Positives: Good size. Excellent speed to turn and run vertical. Explosive athletic ability - posted a 39˝-inch vertical leap and broad-jumped 11 feet, 2 inches. Good balance and agility. Willing run supporter and solid tackler. Works to get off blocks. Has special-teams experience.
Negatives: Average eyes and instincts. Average plant-and-drive quickness - does not pop out of breaks efficiently. Late to drive on throws and shows inconsistent ball reactions. Not a playmaker (one career interception). Lacks elite recovery burst. Only a one-year starter.
Summary: Good-sized, athletic cornerback with starter-caliber measurables. However, started only one year at a mid-major program and does not consistently play to his numbers. Might be best in zone where he can react to plays in front of him. Will increase his value if he proves useful on special teams.
NFL projection: Late draftable pick.
Former CMU TE JJ Watt
Notes: Youth hockey player who won a state shot put championship and lettered in basketball and baseball as a Wisconsin prep, in addition to playing quarterback, defensive end and tight end. Began his collegiate career as a tight end at Central Michigan, where he played all 14 games in 2007 (two starts) and recorded eight receptions for 77 yards (9.6-yard average) and zero touchdowns. Left his CMU scholarship with the intention of walking on at Wisconsin and spent a semester earning credits at a junior college while working for Pizza Hut. Joined the Badgers and redshirted in 2008, earning Defensive Scout Team Player of the Year recognition. Earned a starting job and a scholarship in '09 when he produced 44-15˝-4˝ with five passes batted down and a blocked field goal in 13 games (all starts). Won the Lott IMPACT Trophy in '10 after starting all 13 games at strong-side end and registering 62-21-7 with eight batted passes, one interception, three forced fumbles and three blocked field goals. Bruised his right quad against Arizona State.
Positives: Looks very much the part with NFL stature - thick, well-proportioned build with long arms and meat hooks for hands. Rare combination of size, strength and athletic ability - carries his pads well and is light on his feet. Put on a show at the Combine - bench-pressed 225 pounds 34 times, vertical-leaped 37 inches, broad-jumped 10 feet and posted short shuttle (4.21 seconds) and 3-cone (6.88) times better than some running backs. Instinctive and has a feel for the game. Makes big plays in critical times (see Ohio State, Iowa). Good initial quickness - wedges himself in gaps and makes plays behind the line. Extends and has strong, active hands to disengage. Keeps working to the quarterback. Excellent balance and short-area burst. Disrupts passing lanes. Sacrifices his body around piles and leaves everything on the field. Extremely focused, determined and diligent. Has a passion for the game. Outstanding intangibles. Is a highly respected team leader and players gravitate toward him. Intelligent, articulate and well-spoken.
Negatives: Not an elite athlete and a lot of his production comes on second effort. Could stand to use his hands more violently as a rusher. Shows some tightness in his shoulders. Not explosive at the top of his rush. Average sack production. Does not always play square to the line. Not overly sudden - does not accelerate off blocks. Ordinary closing speed. Lets his pads rise, exposes his frame and becomes blockable.
Summary: A power rush end who tested at the Combine like a rare physical specimen, Watt's confidence, competitiveness and relentlessness stands out on tape. Lacks a "wow" factor and never will be an elite sack artist, but is a stalwart with a unique, versatile skill set to man either post of a "30" front or be used as a left end or three-technique for a "40" front. Character player whose value is aided by top-notch intangibles and the belief that what you see is what you get.
NFL projection: Top-15 pick.