2012 NFL Draft: The 6 Biggest Strengths and Weaknesses of Nigel Bradham's Game

Sean MerrimanCorrespondent IApril 16, 2012

2012 NFL Draft: The 6 Biggest Strengths and Weaknesses of Nigel Bradham's Game

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    When it comes to the top outside linebackers in college football over the past two or three years, you really can't go through that list without including Florida State's Nigel Bradham.

    This standout linebacker was a three-year starter at FSU, and he was a great one at that. He became the first Florida State Seminole since All-American Marvin Jones(1990-92) to lead FSU in tackles in three straight seasons.

    Brahman has the experience and skill set to be an impact player at the NFL, but what does he need to work on before that time comes?

    Let's break down six strengths and weaknesses in Nigel Bradham's game, Bleacher Report style!

STRENGTH: Physical and Reliable Tackler

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    Regardless of whether you play in the ACC or the Sun Belt Conference, recording 300-plus tackles in a college career is no easy task.

    Bradham totaled 306 tackles in his four-year career at Florida State. This past year, his senior season, Bradham recorded 86 tackles, two sacks, two interceptions and a forced fumble.

    Obviously, statistics don't tell the whole story, but make no mistake, Bradham is a physical, imposing linebacker who wrecked havoc on opposing ACC teams over his collegiate career. He is a reliable tackler who constantly looks for contact, which NFL coaches love to see in an outside linebacker.

    Bradham's playing style and physicality give him a good chance to be successful at the NFL level.

WEAKNESS: Slow Play Recognition

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    Nigel Bradham dosen't have many weaknesses in his game, but one that does stand out is his inability to recognize plays as they develop.

    The 6'2", 240-pound outside linebacker has great speed for his position, but it takes him a while to either drop back or come in and make a play on the ball. In other words, he doesn't have great instincts about which play the offense is going to run, and he often reacts slowly to it.

    Bradham could get away with this in college because he had the speed and athleticism to recover from this, but he needs to develop better instincts if he is going to be a successful outside linebacker in the NFL.


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    One of the most important aspects for a young NFL outside linebacker trying to break into the league is his ability to be able to get outside and make plays, as well as drop back into coverage and stick with slot receivers and running backs.

    In order to do that, you have to be fast, and Bradham is just that.

    The former FSU star ran a 4.64 40-yard dash at this year's NFL Combine, which was the fifth-fastest time among linebackers.

    Bradham's speed allows him to also chase down running backs when they bounce to the outside, which is a huge asset in the NFL. His speed and toughness combination should land him a starting role in the future.

WEAKNESS: Not Very Bright

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    The one aspect of Bradham's game that may be keeping him from being a first- or second-round draft pick is that he simply isn't very smart.

    Bradham is slow to recognize plays and often relies on his natural athleticism in those situations, as opposed to using his brain to diagnose the formations and plays.

    In an interview earlier this year, when asked about his most memorable moment as a college athlete, Bradham said it was a “hit on Miami this past season that caused him to get ejected out of the game.”

    Really? That's the most memorable moment in your college career? Getting kicked out of a game?

    Maybe it's a good thing that the NFL has made it a point to keep those Wonderlic test scores confidential.

STRENGTH: Loves the Big Stage

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    Playing in the ACC, Florida State didn't play what you would call a "grind of a schedule."

    But when the Seminoles did go up against a good opponent, it seemed like Nigel Bradham was always at his best.

    In Florida State's first meaningful game of the season, a Sept. 17th clash with then-No.1-ranked Oklahoma, Bradham recorded a team-best nine tackles and an interception.

    One month later, he totaled 10 tackles, one of which was for a loss, a forced fumble and a fumble recovery against in-state rival Miami.

    In the Seminoles' Champs Sports Bowl victory over Notre Dame, Bradham again had a team-best nine tackles and helped hold the high-powered Notre Dame offense to just 14 points.

    This is one of those guys who simply loves the big moment and always seems to play his best against the best.

WEAKNESS: Not Much of a Pass-Rusher

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    Despite having good speed and being known as a tackling machine, surprisingly enough, Nigel Bradham is not much of a pass-rusher.

    The former FSU standout linebacker recorded just nine sacks in his collegiate career, only two of which came in his senior season.

    In this day and age, NFL teams are going to love Bradham's physical nature on the football field, but they also want their outside linebackers to get after the opposing quarterback.

    If Bradham can develop his pass-rushing skills and improve his natural instincts out on the football field, then he has the chance to truly be a special player at the NFL level.