Green Bay Packers NFL Draft prospect profile: LB Sean Porter
Sean Porter, LB Texas A&M
6-1, 229 pounds
Hometown: Schertz, TX
40 yard: 4.75
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.”
- 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.——————
Thomas Hobbes is a staff writer for Jersey Al’s AllGreenBayPackers.com.