James Laurinaitis: A Closer Look

john renshawContributor IMay 16, 2009

NEW ORLEANS - JANUARY 07: Early Doucet #9 of of the Louisiana State University Tigers runs with the ball against James Laurinaitis #33 of the Ohio State Buckeyes during the AllState BCS National Championship on January 7, 2008 at the Louisiana Superdome in New Orleans, Louisiana. LSU won 38-24. (Photo by Chris Graythen/Getty Images)

Laurinaitis has an innate ability to read all blocking schemes.  He seems to know where the offensive linemen go before they do, and has the speed to beat them to the spot. He plays with eyes in the back of his head and smells the scent of the pigskin.  He does a great job of scanning the quarterback’s reads, and, for a grunt, he breaks up more passes than he should.

He needs to hit harder at the point of contact and run down hill faster before the initial blow. You will notice he doesn’t decleat anyone with his hits.

Instead, his quickness, vision, and smarts are his most productive skills.  He hunts his prey and relentlessly bear hugs them to the ground. Laurinaitis is blessed with incredible production without overwhelming strength.

His pass defense skills are highlighted by his zone coverage acumen.  He will be able to cover and run with most of the backs in the NFL.  His man-to-man skills need work, specifically footwork and his diagnostic ability to read routes.  There is no doubt that he is a better run stopper than pass defender.

Even though his timing, effort, and speed are excellent, he has work to do in getting to the quarterback.  His pass rush moves are basic; he is too much of a straight line rusher and has trouble shedding blockers consistently.

He is a dream player for coach Spags.  You have to kick him out of the film room and drag him off the practice field.  His locker room presence is magnetic and his engine never cools.  His durability is insane—he never missed a game while at Ohio State.  The Bronko Nagurski award winner was a unanimous first team All-American selection and Big Ten defensive player of the year, both as a junior and senior.

In summary, he is a can’t-miss prospect. Think Zach Thomas meets Mike Vrabel; think 13 years in the league and a hall of fame debate concluding his career.