Scout's Notebook: Chiefs ROLB Tamba Hali

Posted Dec. 07, 2011 @ 9:55 p.m.
Posted By Nolan Nawrocki

Chiefs ROLB Tamba Hali
Height: 6-3 Weight: 275 Speed: 4.84

Notes: Born in civil war-torn Monrovia, Liberia and moved to the United States when he was 10. Began career as a defensive tackle at Penn State before converting to end as a junior. Was selected by the Chiefs with the 20th overall pick in 2006 after earning defensive MVP honors at the Senior Bowl. Made an immediate impact as a rookie at left end for Herm Edwards, winning the Mack Lee Hill Award given to the top Chiefs rookie after leading the team with eight sacks, also recording five forced fumbles. Racked up 58 tackles, and 7½ sacks in '07. Moved to right end in '08 to help fill the void left by the departure of Jared Allen, but struggled to turn the corner and notched a career-low three sacks. Moved to right outside linebacker in Clancy Pendergast's 3-4 defense in '09 and notched a career-best 62 tackles and 8½ sacks. Upon the arrival of new coordinator Romeo Crennel in 2010, Hali led the AFC in sacks with 14½ and earned an invitation to the Pro Bowl, but declined for personal reasons. In 12 starts in '11, has notched eight sacks and has 20 career forced fumbles. Prior to the 2011 season, signed a five-year, $60 million contract with $35 million guaranteed.

Positives: Does not give up on the rush. Outstanding effort production — disrupts and flushes the pocket. Tireless worker. Outstanding competitiveness and field intensity — plays with as much energy late in the game as he does early. Has a diverse pass-rush repertoire — will swim, swat, club and rip under blocks and works to come free after initially being stymied. Hands are very active and powerful. Alert and instinctive and quickly locates the ball. Good functional strength to re-route tight ends and receivers and is capable of carrying most tight ends in coverage. Extremely durable.

Negatives: Lacks elite edge speed and short-area burst at the top of his rush to threaten most left tackles, and much of his production tends to come when he is schemed against inferior tight ends or open-side edges. Can be overaggressive tearing off the edge — plays out of control, runs himself out of some plays and can initially be baited by misdirection. Is a bit tightly wound and appears a bit mechanical and robotic transitioning. Lacks ideal arm length and still tends to get hung up on inside counter moves.

Summary: When Romeo Crennel took over the defense in Kansas City, he wisely schemed Hali to match up against the open side where he exceled at Penn State, and it led to a surge in production that has carried into his sixth season. What he lacks in speed he compensates for with his relentless pursuit and effort. A versatile performer, Hali moved from defensive tackle to end in college and proved he could transition to OLB in the Chiefs' new defense, traits that endeared him to a new regime and led to a whopping extension in the offseason.