NFL Draft Prospect Profile: Sean Porter, LB Texas A&M

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Green Bay Packers NFL Draft prospect profile: LB Sean Porter

Player Information:

Sean Porter, LB Texas A&M
6-1, 229 pounds
Hometown: Schertz, TX

STATS

NFL Combine:

40 yard: 4.75

Bench: 22

Vert: 35″

Broad: 119″

News and Notes:

Sean Porter’s story is much like another less known linebacker coming out of a big college program that Packers fans have gotten to know over the last couple years.  Like Clay Matthews III, Sean Porter was overshadowed by his peers in college; instead of Brian Cushing and Rey Maualuga it was Von Miller and current prospect Damontre Moore.  With so much talent on the field at linebacker both Matthews and Sean Porter ended up playing everywhere, from traditional outside linebacker to the “joker”/”elephant” positions.  Porter in particular started out as the “joker” in the 3-4 and then moved both strong and weakside linebacker in a traditional 4-3 after a defensive scheme change in his senior year.  Both Porter and Matthews probably deserved to get more credit coming into the draft and like Matthews, Porter has the ability to be the best linebacker from his school this year.

 What they’re saying about him:

  • CBSSports.com: “Possesses an athletic, well-defined frame, looking the part of an NFL linebacker. Versatile defender who can line up in multiple roles. Has the burst to beat tackles off the edge as a rusher and is particularly adept at timing the snap as a walk-up blitzer, showing the burst and ability to “get skinny” to slip through interior gaps. Porter, however, is at his best in pursuit of ballcarriers on the flanks and operating in coverage due to his athleticism, including impressive straight-line speed. He shows good strength to set the edge and the agility to avoid blocks and make tackles in the running game.”
  • NFL.com: “Athletic linebacker with the short-area quickness and football IQ to switch from playing the run to checking a slot receiver to attacking a scrambling quarterback on the same play. Good speed in the open field, and can burst to close in pursuit. Effective pass rusher with a good first step and flexibility to get under a tackle’s upfield shoulder, a shimmy inside to get the direct lane, and also a quick spin move helps him get off leaning tackles. Has a nice inside counter for when tackles start overplaying his speed rush outside. Occasionally gets under the pads of taller tackles to bull them into the quarterback. Slippery blitzer who knows how to get skinny through inside lanes. Breaks down in a hurry to wrap up ball carriers, brings a bit of pop despite his average size. Fluid hips changing directions. Really progressed as a senior in coverage of tight ends and slot receivers, gets his hands on them at the line of scrimmage and crossing over the middle, and the click-and-close ability to break on the ball quickly on underneath throws. Takes on fullbacks, goes lows to win leverage and make plays on inside runs.”

Video:

Video Analysis:

  • Versatile is an understatement, would probably do a decent job at any linebacker position in either a 3-4 or a 4-3 but would probably excel best where his superior chase and coverage ability can be taken advantage of
  • As with Jack of all trades, master of none types it’s hard to predict if he can be truly dominant at one position and what that position would be.
  • Isn’t a premier pass-rusher, but is certainly the next step down. First step is above average.
  • At the moment more of a speed rusher, hasn’t shown the ability to consistently disengage from a blocker so far. Got better in 2012 but still gets walled off too often.
  • Is surprisingly good in coverage; Porter was often placed on slot receivers in obvious passing downs and he seems to understand route concepts and coverages as evidenced by his interception against Alabama
  • Doesn’t play to the end of the whistle in the traditional sense of sticking his nose in when the receiver/runner is essentially wrapped up.  Personally I don’t have a problem with this as in the NFL it reduces the chances of getting an unsportsmanlike penalty.

If drafted by the Packers

Porter could probably immediately contribute as a special teams player while helping out in specific circumstances, i.e. obvious passing downs or against multiple receiver (especially multiple tight end) sets.  Down the road he has the ability to be the Packers lone inside linebacker in the nickel who excels at coverage as well as chasing down dump-offs and screens, something the Packers currently lack with their inside linebacker group.  Also could play in a rotation at outside linebacker, while most likely doesn’t have the capability to be the next Clay Matthews, having Porter and Dezman Moses would allow Dom Capers a lot of flexibility and depth as well as allow for some truly devastating pass-rush possibilities on psycho packages.

From a schematic standpoint, Porter is part of the new breed of linebackers who eschew size and strength for speed and flexibility.  Like Sean Lee in Dallas and Bobby Wagner in Seattle, Porter’s game is a reflection of the pass-heavy, multiple receiver sets that defenses commonly face in the NFL.  In particular, the split tight end (i.e. the Jermichael Finley types) could arguably be called a trend now instead of just a fad and NFL defenses need to find defenders who are big but fast enough to cover the Jermichael Finley’s and Jimmy Graham’s of the NFL.

This has the added effect of being exactly the type of player that will be needed if the read-option quarterback transcends being a fad to a common offensive philosophy.  It was obvious that the Packers were unprepared for Colin Kaepernick during the post season, but in all honestly outside of Matthews, no one on the front 7 has the athleticism to really match Kaepernick, RGIII or Cam Newton.  Overall, as the game becomes more spread out more and more defenders will need to have the ability to cover space and Sean Porter is one of those players.

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Thomas Hobbes is a staff writer for Jersey Al’s AllGreenBayPackers.com.

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  • QOTSA1

    Is this the mystery linebacker that Jersey Al had mentioned in his tweets earlier this week?

    • Thomas Hobbes

      I haven’t talked to Al about it so unless it’s one huge coincidence I’m guessing no.

  • Oppy

    This kid would need to do a bunch of bulking up to play as anything except a coverage linebacker for the Packers.

    He’s about 20-30 lbs undersized to play outside effectively in the 3-4, definitely not big enough to play Hawk’s position inside.

    You nailed it, special teams and in packages that call for a lone LB on passing downs. But even then, he seems to lose cover and allow receivers to gain separation relatively quickly when they cut to the outside (based purely on the video clips).

    • Thomas Hobbes

      DJ Smith is 5’11” and 239 lbs, so Porter is 2 inches taller and 10 pounds lighter, so overall the Packers have looked outside the box when it comes to linebackers. Again like I mentioned in the article, the type of player Hawk is has fallen out of favor in lieu of the more athletic coverage linebacker. In a more morose sense, Porter is probably as good (or as bad as some fans would say) in the box as Hawk but is a definite improvement in coverage.

  • Dobber

    Strikes me as more of a bulked up SS.

    • Thomas Hobbes

      That works for me, a bulked up safety has a good chance of doing well against Jimmy Graham etc.

  • http://googlechrome madtowne

    Xaviar Gooden – OLB Missouri
    6-1, 234 pounds
    4.47 40 yard
    Also from Texas

    Listed 2 spots ahead of Porter
    Both rated 3 stars – Scout.com

    I’d choose him for his speed.

    • Thomas Hobbes

      Interesting, I took a look at Gooden and his game is very similar to Porter’s. Both fit the mold as the “big safety” or coverage linebacker and both come with the same issues, neither is all the great at disengaging from blocks and neither has much functional strength (Porter more so than Gooden) which makes them hit or miss when it comes to run defense (either they knife through the line for a negative play or they get washed out). While it’s hard to say since Porter played mostly zone coverage while Gooden played mostly man, I would say Porter has a better grasp of coverages (since playing zone is more intellectually demanding than playing man) but Gooden is definitely faster in coverage, so it leads to your normal speed of foot vs speed of mind debate. I’d probably take Porter cause he can also rush the passer, in a couple of plays Gooden rushed the passer, he failed to really turn the corner and the OL just rode him out of the pocket.

  • Ron LC

    Ranked 15th best OLB in “Cheesehead’s Pro Football Draft Review. At best a 6th rounder assuming other needs are filled first.

    • Thomas Hobbes

      He’s predicted to go as a 3-4th rounder on cbs sports; keep in mind at the moment the Packers only have 3 outside linebackers but like a million inside linebackers after Zombo and Walden both left in free agency, so Thompson has to find at least a new body at the very least

  • http://googlechrome madtowne

    Porter is the 3rd A&M player I’ve
    heard mentioned for possible draft
    choices. Demontre Moore & Christian
    Michael have also been on some mock
    draft boards.

    I wonder if MM visited Texas A&M for
    more than getting tips on how to
    defend SF’S read option?

    • Thomas Hobbes

      I doubt it, from all accounts the coaching staff has minimal involvement with the drafting process. Furthermore, I’m sure Thompson knew about Porter, Moore and Michael way before the coaching staff meeting. Finally, the media (like us) is completely guessing, so three Texas A&M is likely coincidental. I do player evaluations more on prospects that intrest me rather than who I think they’ll ultimately end up drafting.

      • Stroh

        Both Porter and Gooden would be weak ILB in GB. We already have an abundance of those. If we draft an ILB he has to be a 3 down player that is a real playmaker. We already have situational ILB but no real playmaker, except Bishop and possibly Manning w some development.

        • Thomas Hobbes

          The Packers have many situational ILBs, but not a passing specialist. Of the group I would say Bishop was probably the best in coverage, but it’s not really his forte either. I could see either one of them playing Brandon Chillar’s supposed role as the coverage linebacker.