Discussion in 'Draft Day Zone' started by Hostile, Apr 22, 2005.
Patriots select...Ryan Claridge
OLB | (6'2", 254, 4.73) | NEVADA LAS VEGAS
Strengths: Is a big, strong linebacker with impressive feet for his size. Lacks great speed but is quick and has decent athleticism for his size. He has good initial burst and excellent instincts. Reads things quickly and gets a good jump on plays. He has adequate range versus the run. Takes solid angles and is a powerful tackler. Is a big play specialist with the knack for making something happen. He has good instincts and closing burst as a pass rusher. He forces a lot of fumbles and makes a lot of big plays in the backfield. He also has very good hands and ball skills when he's in position in coverage.
Weaknesses: Lacks ideal top-end speed. Plays a bit too high at times and needs to do a better job of protecting his body versus the run. He needs to improve his ability to get through traffic by using his hands better. He has been extremely productive as a pass rusher in college but doesn't have elite speed and he could struggle to get to the QB as easily in the NFL. Lack of speed and ideal athleticism will also limit him in coverage in the NFL.
Overall: Claridge took over as a fulltime starter for the final seven games of his true freshman season in 2000 as a result of injuries at the position. He also started all 11 games at MLB as a sophomore in 2001 before taking a medical redshirt season in 2002 due to an abdominal injury. He returned healthy and started all 12 games as a redshirt junior in 2003, finishing with 76 total tackles, 10 TFL, 5.5 sacks and two interceptions. Claridge moved to ILB in the team's 3-4 scheme as a senior in 2004, where he finished with 87 tackles, 15 TFL and nine sacks. Claridge does not have great top-end speed and he does have some durability concerns, but he is a big, strong, powerful and somewhat athletic linebacker with a nose for the football and a knack for making the big play. Claridge is an early Day 2 prospect with an outside chance of developing into a starting SLB in the NFL. If not, he will be a reliable backup that can contribute on special teams.
* Player biographies are provided by Scouts Inc.