Wednesday, January 9, 2008

'08 NFL Draft Profile...Chris Long

by Jason Jones

Chris Long – DE – University of Virginia – 6’4, 284 lbs (4.78)

Chris Long, for those who do not know, is indeed the son of Raider Hall of Famer Howie Long. Unlike most former NFL players who have young boys who aspire to play football, Howie has kept his nose out of it. Al Groh, a former NFL head coach, has been given an opportunity to cultivate Chris Long’s natural ability. When you watch the tape on Chris Long, a few things stand out visibly. First and foremost is the penetration he gets consistently on much larger offensive lineman. It seems as if one could bank on a 3-7 yard penetration on each and every play. Virginia’s unique 3-4 front allows Long to line up on either the right or the left. No matter the side, that is the side of the Quarterbacks' pocket that seems to close in the fastest. In each of the games evaluated, it only seemed to take about one possession for the offensive lineman to realize they COULD NOT OVERPOWER LONG. Against Long, offensive lineman move back in a preventative manner so to not get beaten immediately. Bottom line? If an offensive lineman wants to stand his ground against Chris Long, then that offensive lineman will lose…every time. The second thing you’ll notice is his size. At 6’4 and 284 lbs, Long is an ideal Defensive End in either the 4-3 or 3-4. In a 4-3 scheme, it's simple, let him line up on the strong side every time and watch him work. If put on the weak side it would not be fair, and the offense would inevitably make adjustments in the form of bringing over the tight end or adjusting blocking to allow two offensive lineman to detail him. In the 3-4 it is completely a different animal. Conceptually, in the 3-4, it is ideal to acquire non-specific defensive lineman to play DE that are at least 275 lbs. The idea is that 3 defensive lineman would/could consume 5 offensive lineman. In this angle it might seem a waste to put Chris Long in a 3-4. He is big enough, strong enough, long enough, and skilled enough that he may be the first 3-4 Defensive End we could describe as a playmaker. In a 4-3 is most likely compared to a combination of Mario Williams and Julius Peppers. In a 4-3, it might be more like, the strength of a Richard Seymour and the playmaking ability of a Dwight Freeney.

2008 NFL DRAFT PROJECTION: First Round – Top 3 Pick

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