DLE Chris Long, #91
St. Louis Rams
Height: 6-3, Weight: 271 Speed: 4.79
Notes: Selected second overall in the 2008 NFL draft by the Rams after a standout All-America career at the University of Virginia, where he became the first player to have his jersey retired while he was still active and finished his career with 22 sacks, 14 of which came during his senior year. Started all 16 games as a rookie in ’08, 14 coming on the right side, and notched 40 tackles and four sacks. Racked up 43-5 in ’09 before moving to the left side in ’10 to replace Leonard Little. Started all 16 games in ’10, recorded 29-8½ and led the NFL in QB hurries (41½) to earn his first Pro Bowl recognition. Changed his jersey number from 72 to his college number 91 in ’11 and was voted a Pro Bowl alternate after racking up 37-13. After Jeff Fisher’s arrival, signed a four-year extension worth nearly $50 million and has started all nine games in ’12, recording 17-5.
Positives: Explodes out of his stance very low to the ground and plays with excellent pad level and relentless energy and effort — sets the tone for the defensive line. Strong at the point of attack and can set a hard edge — controls blockers and can anchor vs. the double-team. Excellent hand use with very well-coordinated pass-rush moves. Sets up blockers and has a very effective, quick inside rip move. Mentally and physically tough. Smart, hardworking, well-grounded and mature. Highly respected, vocal leader and team captain.
Negatives: Has short flippers, with modest 32 5⁄8-inch arms and slips off some perimeter tackles. Can be locked down once a defender gets his hands on him. Shows some tightness in his body (overly muscled) and is not an elite athlete. Lacks elite closing speed and finishing burst at the top of his rush — is often a step late to arrive at the quarterback (27 QB pressures). Sack production has come vs. inferior competition — against Bears ORT Gabe Carimi and rookies Bobby Massie (Cardinals) and Jonathan Martin (Dolphins).
Summary: A well-pedigreed power rusher who consistently makes plays against the run and pass, Long plays with a contagious energy that must be accounted for. A rolling ball of butcher knives who more than compensates for a lack of elite speed with savvy, strength, instincts and discipline. Brings a fiery on-field temperament that is fun to watch. After signing a four-year extension in July worth nearly $50 million, will be a cornerstone of an aggressive Jeff Fisher defense. Is an even better person than football player.