Packers Film Study – So’oto and Lattimore – if only Dr. Frankenstein Were Alive

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Packers Linebackers Vic So 'oto and Jamari Lattimore
Packers Linebackers Vic So 'oto and Jamari Lattimore

My initial impetus for this film study was to take a closer look at Packers’ LB Vic So’oto, who seemingly has caught the attention of many Packers fans. As I played back the Arizona preseason game, I soon noticed that Jamari Lattimore was getting quite a few snaps over at ROLB. Why not take a look at both, I thought to my self. Well, I’m glad I did.

Taking a close look, it’s easy to see what Ted Thompson saw in both of these players, and just as easy to see why they didn’t get drafted. When you are a very successful college football player, as both of these men were, and you don’t get drafted, it’s because you’re missing something. It could be a physical attribute, a mental deficiency, a lack of experience or playing against inferior competition.

By coincidence, what each of these players lack is something that the other player has as a strength. If we could combine their best attributes into one body, we’d have the perfect 3-4 OLB (aka Clay Matthews).

Jamari Lattimore is 6-2, 230 pounds and was the Sun Belt Conference Defensive Player of the Year as a senior. On the season, he tallied 64 tackles, 11.5 sacks, two blocked kicks, two forced fumbles and a fumble recovery. Lattimore’s strength is quickness and lateral agility. His pro day numbers of 7.04 in the 3-cone drill and 4.40 in the 20 yard shuttle, would have landed him in the top 10 and top 20 respectively, among linebackers at the NFL combine. His weakness is lack of size and strength

So’oto is 6-3, 263lbs and earned first-team All-Mountain West honors . He had 44 tackles, five sacks, 10.5 tackles for a loss and one interception on the season. So ‘oto has prototype 3-4 OLB size, and good straight-line speed. His 4.68 40-yard dash at his Pro Day would have had him tied for 7th with five other players.  Most surprisingly, So’oto also had an excellent 3-cone drill. His 7.01 would have landed him in the top 10 at the combine. His weakness is turning on the fly and lateral movement.

Of course, performance in drills don’t always translate to the field. So lets “go to the videotape” and take a look at both players in action. I counted Lattimore at 18 snaps and So ‘oto at 14 in the Arizona preseason game.  I’ve selected their best play and their worst play to illustrate each player’s strength and weakness:

 

Vic So’oto – Strength

Here you see S ‘oto stand up and knock the tight end off-balance. So’oto can then keep the TE at bay with one arm while keeping his eyes on the ball carrier. Whichever way the running back cuts, So ‘oto is ready to make the tackle and does.

 

Vic So’oto – Weakness

Here you see So ‘oto severely struggle with changing directions and taking proper angles. First, he completely misjudges the ball carrier’s cut and then struggles to change direction. Then he takes a bad angle on pursuit and loses his brief opportunity to make up for his first mistake. As a converted defensive end, this is what So’oto will struggle with the most. But he has the physical tools to potentially make Kevin Greene and Dom Capers very happy men.

 

 

Jamari Lattimore – Strength

Here Lattimore blitzes as the second linebacker into the hole. He takes a few quick side steps to the left and then bursts into the offensive backfield to deliver a hit on the opposing quarterback. You can see this best on the last replay in the video. I really don’t know, but I’m willing to guess this is what most of his 11.5 sacks in college must have looked like.

 

Jamari Lattimore – Weakness

Alas, here is Lattimore’s Achilles’ heel. Like So ‘oto in the first video, Lattimore engages the tight end. Unfortunately, Lattimore is man-handled and thrown to the ground – a complete non-factor. Lattimore obviously needs to put on weight and hit the weight room. I think the Packers have a year on the practice squad planned for him.

 

End Result: If we could take So’oto’s size, strength & straight line speed and give him Lattimore’s lateral quickness and burst…  Calling Dr. Frankenstein.

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Jersey Al Bracco is the founder and editor of AllGreenBayPackers.com, and the co-founder of Packers Talk Radio Network. He can be heard as one of the Co-Hosts on Cheesehead Radio and is the Green Bay Packers Draft Analyst for Drafttek.com.

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  • Dan “FireMMNow” Blakley

    Good stuff Al. I feel the same way about Zombo and Walden to an extent. But when you are taking UDFAs this is what you will get, as you pointed out in the article. I think both of these guys have potential. 230lbs is just too small to get it done as an every down guy at OLB in Dom’s system. If he can put on 15-20lbs Lattimore has a great opportunity. So’oto has the ability to be the force player that you always talk about. I do not expect either player to be a factor this season, but who knows, everyone on the team and practice squad seemingly got their opportunity last year.

    On a side note, wow, Elmore does not look good. He just does not have it. I expect him to be in the first round of cuts. I seem to remember someone posting a comment on this site pre-draft that elmore may be a better player than brooks reed. I said they were not even in the same class. Looks like I was right. to quote ricky from the trailer park boys, “hate to say Itoadaso, but Itoadaso.” +1

    • http://allgbp.com Jersey Al

      I guess it’s pretty obvious now that Elmore benefited from other teams focusing on Reed…

    • PackersRS

      That may have been me (never liked any of them, but thought that Elmore was a better value). And, he’s soft. Maybe he can play soccer.

    • Oppy

      That was me, and while I’m very disappointed in Elmore’s performance as an OLB, as a DE, he showed more tenacity and motor than Reed over their last two seasons.

  • Ron LC

    With Zombo out for a substatial period is it possible that one of these guys will stick. Small with no strength vs. big with no movement.

    Probably want to look at the cuts next week.

    • http://allgbp.com Jersey Al

      They would both benefit from a year on the PS, but yeah, it’s possible one makes the roster. They will keep 4 OLBs: Matthews, Walden & Jones are the only sure bets right now.

  • CSS

    Great write-up, Al. I made mention of it previously, but I love the ceiling both of these guys have in comparison to Brad Jones. Brad appears to have hit his ceiling and can’t seem to shake the injury bug. Actually, I felt Jones was a potential surprise cut this year until Zombo went down.

    I’m less concerned about the liability either offer in coverage as a byproduct of the Packers depth (legitimate depth) in nickle and dime. The Packers can afford to simply say, ‘go get em’.

    I wouldn’t be shocked to see So’oto stick to the 53, move beyond Jones in the depth chart and Lattimore a legitimate developmental player.

    Thanks, Al.

    • http://allgbp.com Jersey Al

      Thank YOU. I also think Jones was going to lose out this year. He’s safe for now with the Zombo injury.

  • Dan “FireMMNow” Blakley

    it is strange that jones does not look overly athletic. when he came out of Colorago he was undersized but had great agility numbers. i expected to really see his speed and agility on the field, but it just has not translated over very well. One thing about jones that is easy to forget is that he is very solid in coverage, atleast he was.

  • BubbaOne

    Even w/ Zombo’s injury, I could see TT still cutting Jones and signing a cut player or trading for an OLB. If he goes this route having the 10 days between the Saints and Panthers game would help get the new player up to speed.
    I wonder if Lattimore adding 15-20 lbs will compromise his speed and quickness.

    • Dan “FireMMNow” Blakley

      Good point, there is a good chance that the 4th OLB is not currently on the roster.

  • BTF

    Is it possible that bulking up last season to play the run better cost Jones some of his speed ? He was a similar size to Lattimore in his rookie year IIRC. I’m still hoping, probably fruitlessly that he can show the pass rushing ability he did in that 7 games or so as a rookie. I wonder, and I confess I have no evidence to back this up, whether he was too worried about combating his weaknesses last year rather than playing to his strengths and pinning back his ears and going after the passer. Doesn’t explain his apparently poor camp though..

    • http://allgbp.com Jersey Al

      That is a really interesting thought. Jones was listed at 232 lbs when drafted. Did a 4.54 40 at his pro day. But, he’s now listed as 242lbs on the roster. Could 10 pounds make so much of a difference? I wouldn’t think so. Perhaps the injury has had more of an effect…

      • Dan “FireMMNow” Blakley

        Jones was not a very good pass rusher as a rookie either. He got some sacks but they were mainly coverage sacks. Playing in this defense opposite CM3, and average player should get 7 sacks a year.

      • BTF

        Know 10 pounds isn’t much in pro footballer terms but Clay Matthews was talking about coming in to camp 250 rather than 257 to see if he could improve his athleticism in coverage. If you lose 1/2 a step in the NFL it can make a big difference IMO.

        Also IMO some players have the frame to bulk up comfortably. On others its just excess weight. That would be my worry with Lattimore..

        I could well be wrong…

  • homerunsimpson

    Of the 2 I think So’oto is the better player. He was undrafted in part because he didnt fit well in his college system. well, he fits well in ours. if he develops i could see him potentially starting across CM3 someday

    • PackersRS

      Well, from that video, he’s just too slow to play in the NFL. The guy is right next to him and he simply cannot reach him. Raji is probably faster than him.

      I got to say, from the videos you’ve shown, I haven’t seen anything significant from them, and the bad you’ve shown, it’s really bad. Not saying they won’t ammount to anything, but they cannot play in the NFL right now.

      • PackersRS

        * by the videos you’ve shown, Al.

        It’s like you said. Put their strenght together, and you have a solid player. But their weakness is too overwhelming right now, too much of a liability.

        • homerunsimpson

          aww come on, hes not THAT slow… i think hes fast enough to play, he just over-pursued and got burned on the cutback. then he almost made the play running down the guy… So’oto is a big dude, he has to learn how to control his body better. like you said, not exactly agile. but not too slow to play in the nfl

          • PackersRS

            I hope you’re right and I’m wrong, I’m not one to wish bad on a guy out of the blue, but I just don’t see the agility necessary to play LB in the NFL… But you’re right, he’s 260, he should be 250 to be playing, maybe it’s that…

  • Lucas

    Look again at So’oto’s bad play. See Raji not making that play either? As for So’oto, that’s an OLB trying to change direction like a RB. GB rarely asks its OLBs to do this. The bad angle is worse than the inabilty to change direction as some would say. However, as he learns the speed of the game, he’ll learn to take the better angle. Correct angles can overcome many things.

    • http://allgbp.com Jersey Al

      Raji is a 335 pound defensive lineman. No surprise…

      GB rarely asks it’s OLB to change directions? Huh?

      Both learning the proper footwork for quicker turns and taking better angles are correctible with experience. We’re just looking at what they are lacking right now.

      • Lucas

        335? LOL! Listed. What I’m getting at there…a big guy, by pure physics, has positives and negatives. And yes, GB rarely asks its OLB to PLAY MAN to MAN on a RB…TEs yes. Deep zones and flats and hooks…(I never said change directions.) I don’t see Capers having the great CMIII man to man on Adrian Peterson or many other RBs. Cutting like an RB is not something we expect anybody 225+ to do. That would be silly…and I heard that argument being used against him. I’m also not saying this was a man to man play. From what I’ve seen of So’oto, he has more power than any other OLB (‘cept CMIII which is a given) and utilizes that power in both run and pass game. Now…if a TE or FB cut behind him like that…that would say something. But this was a RB.

        • http://allgbp.com Jersey Al

          OK, now I understand what you meant. But I still don’t agree. We’re not talking about pass coverage here, as homerunsimpson said below…

          I was being kind to fellow Jersey boy Raji and went with his official roster weight.

        • homerunsimpson

          youre talking about coverage, the video is about an open field tackle on a screen play. yes, GB requires its OLBs to make tackles every now and again

          • Lucas

            In a game film review, the coaches are not going to lay into him because of that play. Too much happened on that particular play outside of So’oto…too many mistakes.
            C’mon homrunsimpson, I never said GB doesn’t expect guys to tackle. The defense is predicated on run fits and gap responsibility. So’oto is actually really good at that part of the game. Look at the tape, at more plays than that one. Cutting like a RB is not our game. Tampa Bay, Chicago, others…yes. As for coverage, he was clearly trying to make a play in pursuit mode, not a break down/square shoulders play.