Max Bullough, ILB, Michigan State (HT: 6’3.5”, WT: 249 lbs)
NFL Comparison: Erin Henderson, LB, Minnesota Vikings
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- Noted team leader with fine intangibles.
- Play-recognition skills improved throughout collegiate career.
- Rock-solid build that will withstand the grind of being an NFL linebacker.
- More effective in backpedal to get depth in pass coverage than expected.
- Instinctively plays the ball in the air when in position.
- Can overpower running backs as a blitzer—likes to drop his shoulder.
- Doesn’t run himself out of plays often by overpursuing or losing gap discipline.
- Throws his weight around in the box and can plug up the movement of the offensive line.
- Takes on lead blocks and pulling guards with aggression and notable power.
- Flashes heavy hands to jolt blockers with upper-body strength.
- Pursues in space with disciplined angles.
- Breaks down when he arrives at the ball to counter quicker ball-carriers.
- Powerful tackler who can stop backs dead in their tracks.
- Anticipates routes well to limit separation in man coverage.
- No durability concerns.
- Built top-heavy and doesn’t play with optimal balance.
- Little acceleration on initial steps and negligible closing speed in space.
- Horizontal range to chase perimeter plays is heavily limited.
- Builds up speed slowly as a blitzer, needing to drive forward from space.
- Leggy mover whose flexibility and foot quickness are both marginal.
- Lacks range in coverage and doesn’t get to spots quickly in zone looks.
- Stiff hips to turn and run or turn to locate the ball in a timely manner.
- Doesn’t naturally flow over the top of edge runs with lateral agility—has to turn and run.
- Can be indecisive and sit on his heels while reading. As a result, blockers get into position too easily.
- Poor awareness of blockers’ positioning in run fits and gets pinned too often by blocks he doesn’t anticipate.
- Doesn’t make enough plays on runs outside of the gap he’s controlling.
- Poor habit of dropping his head into contact with blockers and losing eye contact with the ball.
- Inconsistent meeting blockers with hands and extending to disengage.
- Less than optimal length to keep blockers off his frame.
- Struggles to recover when wrong-sided by a block—lack of lateral quickness a factor.
- A 4-star prospect as a recruit in the class of 2009—No. 4 ranked inside linebacker by ESPN.
- Two-time First Team All-Big Ten selection.
- Two-time team captain.
- 2012 Biggie Munn award winner for team’s most inspiration player.
- 2012 Iron Man award winner for team strength and conditioning.
- 2013 First Team Academic All-American.
- Arrested and charged for minor possession of alcohol in 2011.
- Suspended for 2014 Rose Bowl for an unspecified violation of team rules.
Max Bullough is everything you look for in a collegiate middle linebacker, especially in a conference like the Big Ten. His rough-and-tumble style fits.
Unfortunately, his lack of sufficient athleticism will marginalize his effectiveness as an NFL linebacker. It’s not only that he isn’t fast in the open field; his quickness in short areas, balance and flexibility to play off blocks, and length to take them on, are all less than ideal.
He projects as a 3-4 inside linebacker who would have been called a two-down linebacker a few years ago. In today’s NFL, that linebacker doesn’t see the field much.
Draft Projection: Seventh round