Brandon Magee is another linebacker from Arizona State to be considered for within the NFL. The Arizona State line includes pros Vontaze Burfict and Terrell Suggs, among others. Magee has the tools to make it to the NFL, but it will be interesting to see where the Sun Devil winds up. Let's explore his abilities as a potential NFL linebacker.
+ Diagnoses plays well and reads the offense pre-snap effectively
+ Has good athleticism, especially in a straight line
+ Great tackler who makes sure ball-carrier goes down on first hit
- Change of direction is lacking burst
- Over-pursues both in the run and passing games
- Understands hand usage, but needs more effective strength
- May not be 100% interested in the sport of football
Magee should go anywhere from the middle of the fifth round to not being drafted. If not drafted, he is definitely a priority free-agent signing.
Tools ( + and - )
Brandon Magee is an intelligent player, and he's also an extremely athletic one. At 5'11", 223 pounds, he's a bit smaller than the average NFL linebacker. But he's also got the speed of an average NFL safety, running a 4.56 in the 40-yard dash and showing good straight-line quickness.
Unfortunately, he's not as quick laterally as the average linebacker. This will hurt him in the long-term, as he's an undersized, somewhat non-agile athletic talent with mediocre strength. He'll have to rely on his football instincts if he wants to make an impact in the pro game.
Intangibles, Character and Injuries ( + and - )
When it comes to life off the field, Brandon Magee is a model citizen and someone that every team should want to have. He was a team captain and one of the better role models in the locker room for the players around him, as he was a top-notch student and hard worker. Unfortunately, he has had multiple injuries that could have possibly derailed a promising career.
He suffered a ruptured Achilles tendon in 2011 that caused him to miss the entire year and battled concussions in 2012. The biggest question that surrounds him has nothing to do with whether his injuries have stunted his abilities, though. The question is whether he would be "all in" with football after signing a contract with the Boston Red Sox to play baseball for them when he graduates from college.
Brandon Magee was a 4-3 outside linebacker in college who would sometimes slide inside on nickel packages. He was expected to cover tight ends, but also blitzed quite a bit and would drop into zones against certain schemes. His most natural fit looked to be when he was playing in the nickel packages.
Pass Coverage ( + )
Magee shows good hip movement in coverage and can drop back effectively into his zone. In man-to-man coverage, he can stick to his man effectively, but is better in off-man than in press coverage. Effectively, it would make more sense to use him as a zone defender.
He's not able to cover in zones with much burst, though. He will allow catches and then chase them down to try to minimize the yards after catches. He has great reaction to plays right after the snap, though, and can definitely be an asset to a team that needs an effective coverage linebacker.
Pass Rush ( + )
Magee wasn't used much as a pass-rusher in the Sun Devils' defense, but when he was he was effective. He would be able to get after a quarterback easily when he had an open lane to him and because he could build up a head of steam, he could normally get off blocks effectively too. He converts speed to power very effectively.
Against the Run ( - )
He can cover a ton of ground with his speed and intelligence. He also understands how to shed blocks, but isn't ideal at it. He tends to over-pursue in the run game and will take himself out of plays. He will completely overrun some plays and miss tackles.
His block shedding is effective versus smaller players when he can build a head of steam, but other than that, he tends to get locked up and thrown out of the plays. He needs to show more physicality here. This is definitely the weakest part of his game.
Tackling ( + )
Unless he just overwhelmingly misses the player on a tackling attempt, Magee can take down pretty much anyone himself. He shows impeccable form and has the strength to take on anyone in the backfield. He has a penchant for pit-bulling a guy's legs from behind to not let them gain any ground. His range allows him to gain ground quickly if he misses a tackle.
Use of hands ( - )
He understands the techniques needed for good hand usage. Unfortunately, he doesn't have the strength to be effective with it. Time in a gym with a good strength coach would make him even more effective. He understands how to gain leverage; he just needs to get better functional strength on his rips.
Future Role and Scheme Versatility
In the NFL, he should be able to play both the weak-side linebacker in a 4-3 alignment and the weak-inside linebacker in the 3-4 alignment. His best role is in the nickel and that will be where he would make his bones in the NFL. He will also have to play a lot of special teams. But it’s never an issue to tell a linebacker like Magee to go out there, run downfield and hit someone.