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The Case for Courtney Upshaw in the Second Round

Courtney Upshaw NFL Draft Analysis - 2010 Season (via TMBDraft)

Courtney Upshaw can take over a game. He can and will impose his will on you. Contrary to popular belief, he is not the "safe pick" out of the OLBs in this years draft; his ceiling is actually quite high. From my point of view, Upshaw's issue is his inconsistency, which is an odd thing for a "safe" player to have. However, after re-watching every Alabama game from this year, and having done the same from last year, I truly believe that Upshaw can be just as special as any player from this draft. It's an issue of consistency.

Look at the video above. Fast forward to 6:00. After watching this game, nearly every play Upshaw was in, he was a dominant force. He is a hard hitter (7:13, 8:11), he is fast (7:00), and he is disruptive. Even on the negatives, on most of the plays, Upshaw was double-teamed. If we get the Upshaw from the Auburn and Michigan State games circa 2010, our defense could be dominant. Imagine that Upshaw with Coples rushing, with Ellis, Pouha, and Wilkerson just collapsing the pocket.

However, this year, I expected Upshaw to be an absolute menace. It just wasn't there. I do know that he was injured for most of this year; however, he was playing hurt for the Auburn game in 2010 as well, and in the first half of that game alone he recorded 3 sacks. So what happened? Upon examination of this year, I think it was more a case of him dropping back more into coverage than for lack of trying. This bodes somewhat well if we remain in a 3-4; although he is not as disruptive a pass rusher as Coples, he can also drop into coverage better and he is better at following his assignment and stopping the run. However, if we choose to switch to a 4-3, I do not think he would be as good a fit; we would need a rusher on the other side rather than another run stopper a la Bryan Thomas.

So in summary, Courtney Upshaw is quite similar to a young Calvin Pace in my opinion: He is always an excellent run stopper and he can also drop into coverage. However, every once in a while, he can take over a game. If Rex can instill in him the ability to take over every game, I would certainly be excited about potentially taking him in the second round.

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