Go here for the Day 2 Open Thread. Talk about the pick here.
Hey, a University of Cincinnati guy. I love in-state pick ups. Keep it in the family, right? Yea, I know. Whatever. Craig brings the linebackers up to two for the draft. Craig played defensive end as a freshman and converted to outside linebacker then went back to end. This is the team's "tweener" pick. Obviously searching for a diamond in the rough.
He comes with character flags. But all we can determine is that he violated team rules. For some of the things they throw the character flag, we're not always sure if they're deserved. So unless he's been arrested, plows through an apartment building, charged with hurting a lady, or pulled over for a DUI, we'll just ignore the character flag for now until we know for sure what that means.
Strengths: Plays with a mean streak, shows adequate upper body strength and fights off blocks. Times the snap well, adequate initial quickness and flashes the ability to disrupt plays in the backfield. Keeps head up, reads keys and locates the ball carrier quickly. Takes sound pursuit angles and works from the snap until the whistle. Moves well enough laterally and should be able to scrape down the line of scrimmage when lined up at linebacker. Gets good inside lean coming off the edge and is a relentless pass rusher. Has special teams' experience and can contribute in that facet.
Weaknesses: While has ample experience lining up at outside linebacker, primarily used to rush the passer, top-end speed marginal at best and is going to struggle to match up in man coverage. Doesn't change directions particularly well and lacks the second gear to recover once caught out of position in coverage. Has added some bulk to frame and is tall enough to continue to do so but lacks elite size for an end at this point and is going to get engulfed by offensive tackles. Doesn't have explosive upper body strength and takes too long to shed blocks once engaged. Misses some open field tackles and isn't going to deliver many big hits. Quicker than fast, lacks closing speed and step slow getting to the ball far too much. Doesn't have great lower body strength, isn't a powerful bull rusher that can consistently collapse the pocket and isn't going to run over many blockers in the backfield when asked to blitz. Disciplined for violating team rules in 2007 and character needs to be investigated.
Overall: Craig arrived at Cincinnati as a defensive end in 2003 and redshirted the year. After being moved to outside linebacker, he appeared in 13 games in his first two seasons (2004-'06), collecting 20 tackles, including 1.5 for losses. In 2006, he moved back to end and played all 13 games, turning in 16 tackles (7.5 for losses), four sacks and two pass breakups. As a senior in 2007, he played all 13 games and had 43 tackles (eight for losses), three sacks, two pass breakups and a fumble recovery returned for a touchdown. Craig is a high-motor player quick, big, athletic and tenacious enough to develop into a reserve outside linebacker but he doesn't have any outstanding physical attributes and teams will have to protect him in coverage so he projects as a seventh round pick.
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