Saturday, April 23, 2005
Scouts Inc. Says:
Strengths: Is versatile; has the potential to play DE and DT in a 4-3, as well as DE in a 3-4. He is stout versus the run and can be even stouter if he learns to play with more consistent leverage. His size and strength give him loads of potential as a perimeter run-stopper. Is a physical specimen with terrific quickness, agility and athleticism for his size. Is a better edge rusher than his 40-time would indicate. Lacks first-step quickness of elite undersized edge rushers but he shows very good anticipation skills and initial quickness for his size. He is powerful as a pass rusher and does a good job of knocking OT's back onto their heals. He changes directions well for his size and will use a lot of double moves back to the inside. He is very quick when rushing the passer from the inside. He also shows very good closing burst for such a massive defensive lineman. Has improved his run/pass recognition. Has adequate-to-good recognition skills now. Won't take himself out of many plays by getting too far upfield. Does a good job of finding the ball and reacting quickly. Will also do a good job of sniffing out the screen. He can be an explosive tackler when he lines it up. He has a nose for the ball. His motor is good and he won't quit on a play. Has developed into a much harder worker.
Weaknesses: Is a little bit of a 'tweener DE/DT. Lacks ideal bulk and anchor to move inside fulltime, but also lacks speed as an edge rusher. He needs to improve his array of pass rush moves. Improved his technique and toughness as a senior but still has room to grow in both of those areas. Still tends to play too erect at times and loses his power when he does. Lets OL get into his pads too often when he wears down. Must continue to improve his hands and ability to disengage. Doesn't have good top-end speed for a DE prospect, so won't make as many plays from behind in pursuit. Also is just decent in terms of tackling consistency. Needs to show more leverage; tends to tackle too high.
Overall: Spears was also a heavily recruited basketball star coming out of the high school level but elected to stick with football. He played on both sides of the ball as a true freshman in 2001 (FB, TE and DE), but moved to defense fulltime as a sophomore in 2002 and was LSU's starting LDE from that point on. Spears had eight sacks as a junior in 2003 but was still too inconsistent and didn't play with enough aggressiveness. He made a wise decision to return for his senior season in 2004 and he showed tremendous dedication during the offseason leading up to it. Spears struggled fighting through double teams early on as a senior but he continued to improve as the season progressed and finished with 17 TFL and nine sacks in 13 games. Spears doesn't have elite speed but he's an outstanding athlete for his size. He continues to improve his strength and he has become a much more physical and aggressive player. Spears also has a very good work ethic and has developed into a leader on and off the field. He grades out as a mid-first round draft pick and, if Spears continues to dedicate himself to improving his strength and toughness, he should emerge as a premier every-down starter in the NFL with the versatility to play inside and outside both in a 3-4 and a 4-3 scheme. Spears doesn't have the natural edge rushing explosiveness that some of the other top defensive ends in this class posses but he is one of the best all-around NFL prospect.
Posted by Sturminator at 5:57 PM