Fourth Round, 118th Pick
Sean Porter is a linebacker from Texas A&M, and he is one of the best in the draft. He's got potential to make it to the Pro Bowl one day, but just needs the right fit and opportunity. He compares favorably to Chad Greenway and should be able to help impact on either the strong or weak side. Follow along for the breakdown of Porter's game:
+ He's a solid reliable tackler.
+ He's got insane pass rush ability off the edge.
+ He's very effective in zone coverages.
- Somewhat stiff with lateral athleticism
- His stack-and-shed ability in the run game is mediocre.
- Hand usage is average at best and leads to poor pass rush versus backs and tight ends.
He could go anywhere from the middle of Round 2 to the end of Round 3.
Best Team Fits
Tools ( + and - )
His straight-line speed is arguably the best out of any linebacker in this class. However, he's a very stiff lateral athlete and has trouble turning the corner. The right coach will know how to maximize his straight-line angles to the ball and have him focus less on trying to shed laterally down the line.
Intelligently, he's able to diagnose from either the 3-4 or the 4-3. He plays his assignments well and has shown very good football IQ on the field. He needs to develop more strength in his game, too, but that can be worked on with a pro strength training program.
Intangibles, Character and Injuries
Sean Porter was never arrested or suspended during his time at College Station and is known as a team leader. He was even the captain of the Aggies defense during the 2012 season (h/tDraftBreakdown.com). He never missed a game in college due to injury either and was a pillar of reliability for a defense that needed it.
During Porter's junior year, the Aggies ran a 3-4 and he was an excellent linebacker in the system showing possible first-round potential. However, when they moved to a 4-3, he looked better as an overall linebacker and was asked to do much more on the weak-side. He can blitz or cover and with better hand usage won't get tied up as much.
Pass Coverage ( + )
If he has the athletic advantage on who he is covering, he blankets them in man or in matchup zones almost perfectly. He covers the inside short zones very well and closes on the receiver once the ball gets to him to minimize yards after the catch.
In simple zones, he does really well getting his depth while still mirroring the players within his area. He can make plays with heads-up ball skills. Will sometimes drop deep into pass coverage as if he is the safety. He could be very useful for some amoeba looks with his ability there.
Pass Rush ( + and - )
He gets off the snap well, but takes way too many false steps when rushing off of the edge. On stunts inside versus lesser athletes, he can beat them quickly to create pressure and even get his hands on the quarterback. He needs to get better at finishing the plays, though.
Against guards he can get ridiculous pressure relying on a quick move and then using his burst to get past them. Too many times, Porter has gotten stood up by a running back or a fullback or even a tight end on a blitz, but for whatever reason has no issue getting around the tackle or guard he goes against.
It's not really a strength thing, either. He just seems to give up on the first pop when blitzing and getting blocked by blocking backs and tight ends. Ideally, he should be blitzed against slower, less athletic players like tackles and guards because he can dominate them with his quickness.
Against the Run ( - )
While he doesn't shed blocks well, he diagnoses runs when blitzing very quickly and can locate the ball-carrier right off the snap. On interior run blitzes, he can create pressure as well and almost hits the backs in the backfield a couple of times, but he ends up overrunning the plays.
He takes good angles in pursuit of the ball when it is heading to the other side of the field from his initial alignment. Even on plays when they start to his side of the field, he still can get great pursuit and save potential touchdown plays from great cutback runs. Better hand usage would help him tremendously.
Tackling ( + )
He can take down strong running backs on the first try. He's a wrap-up style tackle with very little pop to his hits. He takes on multiple running backs who are easily bigger than he is in the open field and doesn't allow them to plow him over.
When he is in the middle of a gang tackle, he's the guy that makes sure the pile goes down to the ground as soon as possible. He tends to be a guy who can slow down bigger guys and tackle pretty much anyone. He's a very safe, wrap-up and take-down tackler, making him reliable as a linebacker.
Use of hands ( + and - )
He doesn't really use his hands well. He just tries to push off and not have to deal with guys blocking him. He has a severe lack of ability when it comes to dealing with bigger linemen. However, with guys smaller than him, it's not tough for him to stack and shed quickly. Ideally, he can have someone take on a blocker in front of him.
Future Role and Scheme Versatility
Sean Porter has been one of my favorite pass rushing linebackers since I saw him during his junior year. However, he's blossomed into a much better all around player with the Texas A&M move to the SEC. He will only get better as an overall player as long as he is used as an outside linebacker primarily. He can play the role in either a 3-4 or a 4-3 and should give his coaches good versatility.