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Relentless, powerful Upshaw a physical force

About the Author

Recent posts by Nolan Nawrocki

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Posted Jan. 27, 2012 @ 12:48 p.m. ET
By Nolan Nawrocki

The following is the fourth in a series of scouting reports for draft prospects who are participating in this year's Senior Bowl. These reports from PFW draft analyst Nolan Nawrocki will be running all week leading up to Saturday evening's game in Mobile, Ala.

OLB-DE Courtney Upshaw, #41
Alabama

Height: 6-1 3/4 Weight: 271 Speed: 4.79
Arm: 30 5/8 Hand: 8 1/4 Age: 22

Notes

Played defensive end and receiver as an Alabama prep. As a true freshman in 2008, recorded 22 tackles (team-high 18 on special teams), three tackles for loss and zero sacks with two pass breakups in 13 games. Arrested in August ’09 and charged (along with his girlfriend) with misdemeanor domestic violence and third-degree harassment. After incident, was put on “behavior probation” by head coach Nick Saban but did not miss game action in the fall. Played all 14 contests (one start) and tallied 15-1-1 with a 45-yard fumble recovery TD against Kentucky. Started 12-of-13 games at the “Jack” linebacker in ’10, producing 52-14 1/2-7 with two pass breakups and four forced fumbles. Sustained a high right ankle sprain against Penn State and did not start against Duke. Was a finalist for the Lombardi and Butkus Awards in ’11 after leading the team in tackles for loss and sacks with 52-17-8 1/2 with a 45-yard interception return for a touchdown (Florida game) and two forced fumbles in 13 games (12 starts at Jack linebacker).

Upside

  • Thick-bodied and powerfully built
  • Highly instinctive
  • Fierce competitor
  • Bulldog mentality — relentless and mean
  • Leverages the edge
  • Physical tackler
  • Emotional leader

Downside

  • Short-armed and small-handed
  • Tightly wound — not easy flipping his hips
  • Can be engulfed at point of attack
  • Unrefined coverage instincts
  • Average book smarts

The way we see it

Strong-handed, high-motor, highly productive power-leverage rusher capable of setting the edge and walking back blockers. Plays the game with intensity and is a disruptive force. Is the top rush linebacker prospect in the draft and a surefire first-rounder.

Draft projection: Round One

 

Follow our weeklong coverage of the Senior Bowl, with daily reports on practices, analysis, features and columns from our reporters in Mobile, Ala., along with videos, and concluding with a game story Saturday evening.

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