Etienne Sabino Scouting Report: NFL Outlook for Ohio State OLB

Scott Carasik@ScottCarasikContributor IIApril 14, 2013

COLUMBUS, OH - SEPTEMBER 12:  Linebacker Etienne Sabino #6 of the Ohio State Buckeyes celebrates after stopping C.J. Gable #2 of the USC Trojans (not pictured) during the first quarter of the game at Ohio Stadium on September 12, 2009 in Columbus, Ohio. (Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images)
Andy Lyons/Getty Images

Etienne Sabino is the typical case of a great recruiting prospect who underachieved early. However, he finally hit his stride as a redshirt junior and senior and turned into an excellent all-around player with talent that projects to the NFL. He's going to make a coach happy with his play on the field and could end up starting much sooner than expected.

Follow along to uncover all of his talents and weaknesses.

Overall Strengths

+ Etienne Sabino is a coach's dream in the locker room.

+ He's quick enough to play inside or outside as a sideline-to-sideline player.

+ His great hand usage helps his abilities in other areas a lot.

+ He is a talented, instinctual run defender.

+ His pass rush is very effective from all angles.

Overall Weaknesses

- Sabino's tackling form is inconsistent throughout games.

- Coverage outside of a short zone will be a huge weakness for him.

Draft Projection

Etienne Sabino is an early third-round pick or later. He should easily find himself in an NFL camp in 2013.


Etienne Sabino is a quick player. He is strong and has a long, rangy frame. He can quickly diagnose plays and shows a ton of intelligence in his game. He's fast off the snap and has good lateral and straightforward speed, which he relies on in both the passing and running game. He has the speed to stick with linebackers or get around the edge on blitzes when he gets called upon to do so.

Intangibles, Character and Injuries

Off the field, Sabino has been an amazing example for the Ohio State program on what to be. He's not just a hard-working player off the field; he's never been arrested or suspended and was a co-captain for the Buckeyes during his senior season.

He has also been durable as far as injuries are concerned outside of his senior season. During that senior season, he missed four games due to a fractured bone in his right leg, but he made the best of it. Urban Meyer has considered him to be one of his favorites, and Sabino treated him like a coach.


Sabino was used both as an inside and outside linebacker depending on the formation. He would play mainly inside in 4-3 alignments and would shift outside on the nickel and 3-4 alignments. He is versatile and was used to his strengths with Urban Meyer running the show in Columbus. Meyer rarely schemed Sabino to cover guys in man coverage.

Pass Coverage (+ and -)

He reads outside screens well and flows to the ball effectively. Against play action, he can diagnose effectively and cover the flats well. On short passes, he does a good job of limiting yards after the catch and stopping first downs.

Sabino chases down quite a few passes where his teammates have been beaten by their man to help clean the play up. He covers his short zones well, but he probably shouldn't be responsible for anything past that. He is not very good in man-to-man coverage unless matched with a running back.

Pass Rush (+)

Sabino takes good paths to the passer when rushing from the outside. On outside stunts, he works effectively to create pressure on the quarterback quickly. He can work from any angle to the ball and excels when he can get a direct lane to the quarterback.

He needs to get better at finishing the play with a sack, but he creates pressure to change plays, which is the goal of pass rushing. He also is effective on a delay blitz-style play because he can contain and then rush effectively.

Against the Run (+)

When lined up outside on inside runs, he can help keep the run inside and force a quick end to the play. On outside runs when lined up outside, Sabino can set the edge effectively and turn the play to the inside well from either the three-man or the four-man fronts.

On outside runs when he is lined up inside, he can get caught up in traffic and is unable to burst through a pile of people to the ball-carrier. Overall, he takes good angles to the ball and looks good as a run defender.

Tackling (-)

When tackling players one-on-one, he tries to hit the center of gravity, wrap up and drive. However, sometimes he allows his form to slip and will tackle too high. He also tries to go for the kill shot sometimes, which can hurt him long term with the NFL cracking down on that.

On gang tackles, Sabino also needs to make sure to wrap up because he tends to just throw his shoulder into the pile. Sabino also tries to go for the strip in clutch situations, which will frustrate quite a few coaches in the NFL.

Use of Hands (+)

Sabino can throw off smaller blockers easily and has great strength in his rip move. He fights off blocks well by getting inside leverage and staying underneath the blocker's pads. However, he could use better strength to get even quicker at throwing off blockers. Overall, this is a true strength for him in a class of players who don't understand proper hand usage.

Future Role and Scheme Versatility

In the NFL, Sabino needs to be used as both an inside and outside linebacker to show his true worth. He is valuable in multiple aspects of the game and could give his NFL team a good "amoeba"-style defender. He also looks like a good special teams contributor long term with his quickness and motor.


The latest in the sports world, emailed daily.