The truth why the Dallas Cowboys won’t draft your favorite prospect

Mandatory Credit: Trevor Ruszkowski-USA TODAY Sports
Mandatory Credit: Trevor Ruszkowski-USA TODAY Sports /
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Mandatory Credit: Kelvin Kuo-USA TODAY Sports
Mandatory Credit: Kelvin Kuo-USA TODAY Sports /

Devin Lloyd, LB, Utah

Reasons: Defending Gap Runs, Range in Hook and Curl Zones, Lateral Mobility

Games Watched: San Diego State, Oregon State, Oregon (PAC-12 Championship)

The final prospect on this list hails from Salt Lake City. (I can think of at least three other guys that should be on this list, unfortunately, I just ran out of time to watch other film) The linebacker is often seen as the other candidate for LB1 in this class and rightfully so. Lloyd is another instinctual linebacker but carries the body type teams are probably looking for.

The All-American would be another awesome addition alongside Micah Parsons. Like Dean and Parsons, he can play near the line of scrimmage. He has good length and physicality to engage at the point of attack and shows good play strength to disengage from linemen and tight ends especially on Zone runs. With his body type, he can comfortably line up anywhere on the line of scrimmage to stop the run even showing good blitz timing and block shedding as a pass rusher. (8 sacks in his final season)

Playing in a conference that has apparently adopted zone running fundamentals, Lloyd consistently showed very good gap discipline and good physical toughness to initiate contact at the point of attack. Even when his linemen didn’t hold up, he could read and react and reduce the running room for the opposing ball carrier.

Unfortunately, that doesn’t carry over as much when the opposition runs a gap run. It might have to do with the frequency with which his opposition run gap, but he doesn’t play with the same physicality and aggressiveness. When a tight end base blocks him, he finds himself without correct pad level usually showing poor punch timing and punch location as he’s unable to disengage from his blocker.

More teams use gap runs in the NFL and heavy zone-running schemes often use gap runs as a tendency breaker. It’s a concern at the professional for the same reason it was a concern at the collegiate level. If a tight end, likely bigger than him, can successfully down or base block him at the line of scrimmage, it can become an 11 vs 10 advantage for the offense.

(Once again, don’t look too much into the flaws here. Lloyd’s ability to play the Zone run makes him incredibly valuable to a linebacker corp that has struggled to stop it for years)

In man coverage, Lloyd has the athleticism to cover running backs and tight ends from off alignments showing good route recognition from keying the target’s hips. When working towards the flat, he is very good at weaving through traffic in order to make a play near the boundary lines.

Lloyd can struggle to play zone coverage in hook and curl zones. He is an effective communicator in Zone coverage and he shows good IQ to track receivers working towards the middle of the field from bunch sets. Unfortunately, he isn’t always consistent at matching and overlapping receivers in the hook and curl zones as he will work his drop one direction recognizing too late where the quarterback is going to pull the trigger.

It’s a weird phenomenon purely because he was a productive pass catcher with four interceptions, but I suppose he falls into the category of high variance defensive players. The name of the game is baiting, except when it doesn’t work.

In all, Lloyd and the rest of these prospects are worth the consideration at pick number 24. (Drake London might be the lone exclusion) It’s fun doing these exercises because all draft season, fans and analysts talk about the things they like about different prospects. Conversely, teams are actively looking to find things they don’t like about prospects in an attempt to deploy them in a fashion that exposes their flaws the least. First-round prospects possess fewer flaws, after that?

Next. 3 Fun Free Agents for the Dallas Cowboys. dark

Just like that, it’s a wrap!