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Scouting The Draft: Ricky Sapp OLB, Clemson

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Finally getting around to Ricky Sapp. I know a few people here are very high on him, and his stock seems to continue to rise on a weekly basis. I didn't see much of him in 2009, mainly because the ACC is not a conference I really enjoy watching outside of the two Tech teams and occasionally Miami. Saying that, ever since people started raving about him, I have been researching him, and he does look like quite an exciting prospect.

I try and bring you some quotes on the player in each of these scouting reports, but Ricky Sapp actually wrote a few articles as part of his training for the combine and this gives us a look at his mentality and also explains the reason why he chose not to participate in the Senior Bowl which was heavily criticized by some. So I thought I would change it up here, and post some thoughts directly from the former Clemson Tiger:

The Senior Bowl was (Saturday), and I decided not to participate. I know a lot of people were wondering about that. And the reason why I didn’t play is because I felt like I have a lot more work to do to get my knee stronger and ready for the combine, and I just did not want to take any chances. Yes, I missed out on a great opportunity to play with all the great seniors from this season, but I felt like that was the best decision for me.

Sapp missed some time towards the end of the 2008 season after tearing his ACL in his right knee, although he looked strong and unaffected during his 2009 season. So it's interesting to hear him say that he feels like he needs to get his knee stronger, heading in to the combine. Some have speculated that because his coverage skills are questionable, transitioning from a 4-3 DE, to a 3-4 OLB, he didn't want to hurt his stock in the coverage drills at the Senior Bowl. I don't know how truthful that is though, and it seems reasonable to me that he wouldn't want to risk injury on a knee weeks before the biggest few days of his life with the combine and NFL draft. Also his coverage skills are going to be tested pre-draft anyway on his pro day, so I think people may be reaching with criticism.

Career Stats

2006- 13 games played, 20 tackles, 6 tackles for a loss, 4 sacks

2007- 12 games played, 44 tackles, 9.5 for a loss, 6 sacks, 1 forced fumble

2008- 10 games, 25 tackles, 9.5 for a loss, 2.5 sacks

2009- 14 games played, 60 tackles, 15 tackles for a loss, 5 sacks, 1 forced fumble

Career Awards & Achievements

2005 High School All-American (USA Today)

2006 Freshman All-American Honourable Mention (Scout)

2009 Second Team All ACC

So what does Ricky Sapp do well?

Sapp has one of the quickest initial burst off the snap in college football, if lineman are not on their toes he will be around you before you get into any kind of blocking stance. Has a variety of moves that he uses to get around blockers, is most definitely not a one trick pony. Sapp has excellent open field speed, and has instincts for the where the ball is going, can penetrate into the backfield and bring the ball carrier down, or move laterally with the line to seal the edge. Has an excellent motor and will/can run down anyone who happens to get past him. Has very long arms and although he doesn't hit with much force, he is a solid wrap up tackler. Has his head on straight and his work ethic has often been commended. Is a pass rush specialist, and his position is the 3-4 OLB.

What does Ricky Sapp need to work on?

Because he played as a 4-3 DE, his coverage skills are unknown at this point, rarely was he asked to track players at Clemson. Although he did stand up in the 4-3 quite frequently, he is used to moving from the 2 point instead of the 3 point stance which is good for a 3-4 team, not so much for a 4-3 one. His size is still a little too light, weighed in at 240lb's, and will likely need to bulk up a little at the next level. Doesn't consistently get off blocks, as he doesn't have the strength against bigger lineman. Can be too aggressive, and over pursues the ball, needs his speed to track back and make a tackle he could of made a lot easier with more discipline. With quicker NFL lineman it's questionable if his speed will translate as well, as he goes around the blocks and not through them.

Final Word

Sapp has a lot of ability but has a few question marks as a 3-4 OLB. If we did select him, would trust that he came through coverage tests with flying colours as that remains the biggest mystery for me, it's impossible to grasp because there just is no film because he hasn't done it. I like his burst and his open field quickness, and his instincts for the direction of a play make me believe that he would be a decent coverage guy.  So if that is the case, we could do worse than select Sapp if he was there. He is a 3-4 rush prospect, and I don't doubt that he can get to the QB on the next level.

Video Highlights

My Order Of Preference:

1) Perrish Cox

2) Jared Odrick

3) Brandon Graham

4) Golden Tate

5) Kyle WIlson

6) Ricky Sapp

7) Donovan Warren

8) Patrick Robinson

9) Damien Williams

10) Chad Jones

11) Dan Williams

12) Taylor Mays

13) Dominique Franks

Other GGN Scouting Articles

Scouting The Draft, Chad Jones, S, LSU

Scouting The Draft, Dan Williams, DT, Tennessee

Scouting The Draft, Dominique Franks, CB, Oklahoma

Scouting The Draft, Kyle Wilson, CB, Boise State

Scouting The Draft, Perrish Cox, CB, Oklahoma State

Scouting The Draft, Patrick Robinson, CB, Florida State

Scouting The Draft, Donovan Warren, CB,Michigan

Scouting The Draft, Golden Tate, WR, Notre Dame

Scouting The Draft, Taylor Mays, S, USC

Scouting The Draft, Brandon Graham, Michigan

Scouting The Draft, Damian Williams

Scouting The Draft, Jared Odrick, DE, Penn State

Prospect Watch, Carlos Dunlap, DE, Florida

Prospect Watch, Arthur Jones, DE, Syracuse