When the fourth round of the 2013 Draft rolled around, a lot of us who follow the club were thinking that linebacker would be the direction with their pick. With Rutgers linebacker Khaseem Greene on the board just a few picks before the Bengals were on the clock, he was undoubtedly kicked around as a possibility. The Bears grabbed Greene, a pass coverage specialist, one spot ahead of Cincinnati and the Bengals went with another linebacker--Sean Porter out of Texas A&M.
It's possible that the Porter was the Bengals' guy all along, as he displays a variety of abilities that Marvin Lewis and Mike ZImmer covet in their linebackers. He's rangy, is a decent tackler, can rush the passer and, most of all, he is versatile. The coaches believe that he can play all three linebacker spots and will be asked to backup all four spots. Our resident draft expert, Joe Goodberry, did a nice breakdown of Porter's abilities on his new site, DraftBengals.com.
I recently reached out to a group of guys that run the SB Nation site for all things Texas A&M in an effort to get a bit more insight on Porter and what we can expect him to bring to the table in Cincinnati. WIth some great help from William Priestley (AKA Lucas Jackson) and James Gardner from Good Bull Hunting, I received some great insight. I had them dig into their archives for a couple of pieces on Porter, including an interview that they held with him shortly after the 2013 NFL Combine.
We found out some interesting things from the boys over at GBH, including that Porter was an in-house favorite and had a solid reputation with the club. Says Jackson, in a piece on Porter back in February this year:
I instantly adopted Porter as a personal favorite when I saw him play during his freshman year. Sean Porter just had "IT". He was born to play linebacker. Not only did he display the sideline-to-sideline speed and aggressiveness of A&M linebackers of old, he played without fear. He could fill the gaps and meet the running back head on AND WIN. He could rush the passer. He could play coverage. In short, Sean Porter could do it all, and he could do it when it counted. I'll never forget watching him play at the Independence Bowl, the second start of his career. It was then that Dr. Camacho and I began to refer to him as simply "Porter", a reference to Mel Gibson's character in "Payback". From that time on, Sean Porter was simply "Porter". A man among men in a man's world.
Pretty glowing review from a guy that intimately follows the Aggies. In the subsequent GBH interview with Porter, the current Bengals linebacker had a couple of interesting statements. One is that he was pretty pleased with his Combine performance, with the exception of of his 40-yard dash time of 4.75 seconds and that was because he wasn't "100 percent". At his Pro Day, Porter helped himself by improving his time by over one-tenth of a second with a 4.63 time.
Additionally, Porter said that he used future Hall of Fame linebacker Derrick Brooks as a role model. It's a good person for him to emulate, as Jon Gruden calls Brooks the greatest linebacker that he's ever been around. Keep that one in mind, Sean.
I decided to ask the guys a few more questions about Porter to get the full picture on one of the team's exciting new additions.
AC: "To me, in the limited time that I've seen Sean Porter on film, he looks like a poor man's Von Miller and it appears that Texas A & M used him in a similar fashion. I saw him play traditional linebacker and rush the passer frequently. Am I crazy to have that thought?"
WP: "You are definitely not crazy to have that thought. Sean displays a lot of the same traits as Von, most notably the ability to beat tackles off the edge with his speed and agility. Watching Sean play, the two things that jump out at you are his closing speed and ability to shed blocks, similar to Miller. It's just that Sean just doesn't have Miller's freakish athleticism which allows Von to play with his hand on the ground."
AC: "The Bengals coaches have already said that Porter has the ability to back up all three linebacker spots. Which of those spots do you see him being the best fit?"
WP: "Porter spent most of the 2012 season at as the "SAM" backer in Mark Snyder's 4-3 defense. This was mainly due to A&M's lack of depth on the defensive side of the ball. I think Sean projects more as a weakside linebacker in the NFL. He spent 2011 on the weakside of Tim DeRuyer's 3-4 defense, opposite Damontre Moore who played the "joker" position on the strong side. Sean's best results came from disguised or delayed blitzes, which allow him to take advantage of his closing burst and slipperiness."
AC: "What is Porter's greatest strength on the field? Tackling ability, pass coverage, rushing the passer, pursuit and play recognition?"
WP: "When I asked Sean what his favorite thing to do on the football field was, he quickly responded 'rush the passer', and while he excels at getting after the quarterback, I was more impressed by Sean's ability to recognize plays and get to the ball carrier. The prime example is his game saving tackle against Ole Miss (see the senior highlight article for a link). On that play, Porter recognizes the play as a designed cutback and stays at home, meeting running back Jeff Scott in the hole."
A big thanks to the crew at Good Bull Hunting for some quality information.