TUSCALOOSA, AL - OCTOBER 22: Dont'a Hightower #30 and Courtney Upshaw #41 of the Alabama Crimson Tide react after a defensive stop against the Tennessee Volunteers at Bryant-Denny Stadium on October 22, 2011 in Tuscaloosa, Alabama. (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)
At one point, Courtney Upshaw was pretty universally regarded as a mid-1st round pick, if not a top-half 1st round pick. He had an extremely productive college career at Alabama, playing in a professional-style defense while going up against the biggest and fastest dudes that college football has to offer. He seems like a good, hard working guy, and he has a nasty streak on the field without being dirty.
Even with all of this going for him, Upshaw is dropping down in mock drafts. He's now looking like a potential option for the Green Bay Packers at No. 28 overall. This is a bit of a late, unexpected development for most Packers fans, but Ted Thompson has probably been planning for it all along. He might have the same concerns as everyone else, or he might just take Upshaw because he's obviously a great football player.
Upshaw is, at least, an intriguing prospect. After the jump, we'll have plenty of subjective and objective information on Upshaw, mostly from people who watch more college football than I do.
First, let's see what Dan Kadar at Mocking The Draft has to say about Upshaw.
If there is an NFL team looking for the next LaMarr Woodley, they have it in Upshaw. For a 3-4 team, Upshaw could make an immediate impact on three downs. He's a powerful pass rusher who is hard to block for any period of time. As a senior, Upshaw had 18 tackles for loss and 9.5 sacks. He often came up big in Alabama's biggest games, eating defensive MVP honors in the national title game against LSU. A 4-3 team will probably look at Upshaw as an end, a position he's being used at during Senior Bowl practices. He may not have the mobility required in a 4-3 linebacker.
I like the Woodley comparison. LaMarr Woodley was a 4-3 DE in college that a lot of people thought was going to be too slow and too deficient in coverage to be an effective 3-4 OLB, but he's been a fantastic pickup for the Pittsburgh Steelers.
Upshaw's Scouting Combine results:
6'2", 272 lbs, 32" arms, 9" hands
Bench press (225 lbs): 22 reps
Did not participate in other drills
Upshaw's Pro Day results:
40-yard dash: 4.74
20-yard dash: 2.72
10-yard dash: 1.67
Vertical jump: 27"
Broad jump: 109"
20-yard shuttle: 4.60
3-cone drill: 7.32
SB Nation Prospect Video
Here's the ubiquitous highlight tape with rap music. Young Jeezy seems to be a popular selection in these. I don't know who sings the hook on this song, but he seems to be obsessed with using derogatory terms for women that he believes to be sexually promiscuous. I do not endorse this language or implicit belief structure.
And here's the game tape of his performance in the National Championship game against the LSU Tigers.
The biggest thing that I noticed about this game is how disciplined he is in run defense and how nasty he is in pursuit. Upshaw might not be great in coverage and he might not be the best pass rusher in the draft, but he is the best 3-4 OLB in this draft at stopping the run from that position. His discipline when it comes to keeping containment, when that's his job, is remarkable for a college player.
Verdict: Forget the concerns, this guy is a beast. I want him now.
Courtney Upshaw might struggle in coverage early on, but if you watch games and see how disciplined he has doing what he is supposed to do in Alabama's defense, I have no concerns about him learning. He might not have top end athleticism, but he has everything else. He's big, his football intelligence is nuts, he has great tackling technique, he knows how to get to the quarterback and he has a serious nasty streak.
You can't teach a guy how to be big, how to be smart or how to have a killer instinct. Upshaw has all of that. If a team that needs a 3-4 OLB passes on him in the late 1st just because they think he's going to struggle in coverage, they are crazy. This dude is a monster. If he falls to No. 28, I think we'd be crazy to pass.
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