NFL Draft Prospect Profile: Courtney Upshaw, OLB, Alabama All Green Bay Packers All the Time
NFL Draft Prospect Courtney Upshaw, DE/OLB Alabama
Courtney Upshaw, DE/OLB Alabama

Green Bay Packers draft prospect profile: Courtney Upshaw, DE/OLB, Alabama

Player information:

  • Courtney Upshaw, DE/OLB, Alabama
  • 6-foot-2, 279 lbs.
  • Upshaw surprisingly weighed in at 279 lbs at the Alabama Pro Day, 6lbs heavier than he weighed at the NFL combine. He says he feels “250” thanks to workouts he’s been doing, but wanted to come in under 270. Reportedly ran a 4.77 40 yard dash.

NFL Combine:

  • N/A 40-yard dash
  • N/A 20-yard shuttle
  • N/A 3-cone drill
  • N/A broad jump
  • N/A vertical jump
  • 22 bench press reps
  • 32″ arm length
  • 9″ hands

News & Notes:

A two-year starter for the Crimson Tide, Upshaw notched 17 sacks and 31.5 tackles for loss in those two seasons.  He played both defensive end and linebacker, with primary responsibility to get after the quarterback. Upshaw consistently was at his best in big games – doesn’t shy away from the pressure.

What they’re saying about him:

Frank Cooney (CBS Sports): “Alabama coach Nick Saban predicts Upshaw can play outside linebacker in a 3-4 defense or “put his hand in the dirt and play defensive end” in the NFL. Based on his play in college, regardless of where Upshaw lines up, he will probably wind up in a quarterback’s mug. Used as an edge rusher, sometimes as the Tide’s so-called “Jack” linebacker and sometimes as an end, Upshaw thrashes blockers with great hand and arm action and shows ample speed and agility to find his way into the offensive backfield. He has instincts beyond that of a pure pass-rusher, with an uncommon awareness for draws, screens, counters and reverses. Although he was not asked to drop into coverage often at Alabama, he has a fluid athleticism that may allow him to adapt to such a demand.”

National Football Post (Wes Bunting):  “I like him as a 34 outside backer who can play on the strong side, take on linemen at the point and also rush the passer. He’s at his best attacking downhill, using his strong hands to disengage and always is around the football. Looks like a year one starter to me at the next level with scheme versatility.”

NFL Combine: “…due to his size, strength, and play against the run, Upshaw has late first-round talent. Look for him to pair with a pass-rush specialist opposite of him at outside backer in a 3-4 scheme where he can set the edge, work against tight ends and be a heavy run defender.”


Video Analysis:

  • Upshaw is what I would call a “violent” pass rusher.  He punishes blockers in his path towards the QB.
  • While not a speed rusher, he closes very quickly on the QB once he has beaten his man.
  • Shows very good ball awareness and reacts quickly to misdirection.
  • Holds the edge well in the running game, even against much larger blockers.
  • Moves fluidly enough to play at 3-4OLB, as long as he keeps his weight under control
  • Doesn’t always give full effort to the whistle in pursuit. Pulls up too soon, in several instances.

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Jersey Al Bracco is the founder and editor of, 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


11 thoughts on “NFL Draft Prospect Profile: Courtney Upshaw, OLB, Alabama

  1. His weight goes to his ass..being female I can say that,and ass weight kills the movement you want to have…trust me.LOL
    He’ll end up being a DE in 4-3 or gain another 10-15 lbs and be a DE in a 3-4 but OLB is out of the question.

  2. I’d use my first on him and I’ve been seen a number of drafts where he’s slipping into the late first area. Could this Tide end up on our side?

    I do have a couple questions for Jersey Al bloggers. (1)Considering the shear volume of impressive candidates from Alabamas defense (Barron, Upshaw, Kirkpatrick, Hightower and Chapman) does that fact that the Tide had so much talent overall diminish each individuals value? I mean how much offensive resources can you commit to Upshaw with out exposing yourself to Hightower etc.? And (2); in a few years could Alabama’s defense from this past season be as good or better than a number of NFL defenses?

    And as good as Alabama’s D seems to be, ironically the first player chosen from their team will likely be running back TR.

    1. Mojo,

      Don’t know if you bought the CheeseheadTV Draft Guide, but that is the very question I ask in my writeup of Upshaw? Is he that good on his own or because he was surrounded by so much talent?

    2. I think it’s natural that playing alongside good players will make you a better player as well, especially if the team knows how to work together. Then again also keep in mind that if you say draft Upshaw, its not like you’re sticking him in a abyss of talent; the Packers would have Matthews on the other side, Hawk and Bishop in the middle and Woodson in the slot.

      As for the second part about Alabama’s defense being better than a NFL defense, I would say unlikely, first off keep in mind that every player in the NFL was probably the best player on his college team. Perhaps the more important part is that the NFL plays a much more complex and explosive offense than your average college team, could Alabama hang in with a Tim Tebow spread/triple option offense? Maybe, but I doubt it. Could they hang in there with Brady, Rodgers or Brees? Not a chance.

  3. This video convinces me to pass on Upshaw. He’s rushing against an average college right tackle and has no moves to speak of. In the pro’s, his “overpowering” won’t take place. He was trying to lose weight and he ended up gaining 7 pounds?? I think he is the case of the sum (Alabama defense) being greater than the individual parts. I would take Curry or Mclellin before him. I can’t see him in any type of coverage, and chances are he will gain more weight as he ages. GoPack!

    1. My exact thoughts.However, I think he’ll be good against the run because of his weight. He seems to have the same body type as Frenney, who is a DE. Very hard to project who will translate to a OLB with all of these DE’s.It will be a very interesting draft. One thing is sure we need a much better pass rush,NOW.

  4. Powerful, smart, stiff, slow. Will not be able to bullrush at the next level all the time. He’s a slower Terrell Suggs to me. Might turn out to be a good player after all, but I don’t see multiple sack seasons for him.

    Without combine numbers you can’t accurately measure his athletic ability, but the fact that he didn’t do the drills (unless he is/was injuried) is a big teller.

    Usually players avoid drills that they think might affect their stock negatively. Figure the notion of not being athletic enough is better than the certainty of it.

  5. I didn’t see anything in the films that made me say Wow. He looked very ordimary against LSU. I’d rather see the 1st pick go to an OLB with CM3 like speed and continuous motor. Ya, I know wishful thinking.

    1. It’s not wishful thinking–it’s just that GB should spend a 2nd round pick on this guy rather than a first. By the way, his name is Shea McClellin. I sure hope GB finds a way to get him in the 2nd, either by trading up or sheer magic.

  6. He’d be able to set the edge well and probably rush adequately.

    He’s too slow to be a feared defender.

    Can you imagine him trying to cover Jimmy Graham? Scary.


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