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What scouts want from the 'Box' LB

Wed, Oct 02, 2013

By Phil Savage


Today in the 'Philm' Room we're looking at inside, or 'box,' linebackers. These are the defenders that play off of the line of scrimmage -- behind the defensive line -- and are required to cover ground against both the run and the pass.

There are three general components -- in addition to speed, toughness and instinct -- that these box linebackers must possess.

1. QUALITY 'BULK': In terms of being able to take on the run and potentially a large fullback at the point of attack. This is first and foremost in the mind of scouts. They must take on 310-pound offensive guards and potentially a 270-pound fullback. They have to separate off the block of the guard and then shed the block of a fullback and/or bring down the running back.

2. EXCELLENT TACKLER: Must hit with explosion. 

3. OUTSTANDING INSTINCT: In terms of reading their run keys and then having the play speed to go track down the football. This also includes the ability to play against the pass. When you can find an inside linebacker that can play on third down in pass coverage, then his stock is going to go up. Play speed is important because the 'box' linebacker must diagnose the play and often run outside to secure the tackle.

In addition to these three traits above, NFL scouts like to determine what is the player's value going to be on special teams. Every NFL scout is trying to assess the player's ability on first, second, third and fourth down, because the inside backer is usually part of the core group on special teams.

Check out the video above to see examples of all of these traits inside the 'Philm' Room.

Phil Savage Phil Savage is the Executive Director of the Senior Bowl. He worked 20 years in the NFL as a coach, scout and executive, including two years as the Director of Player Personnel for the Baltimore Ravens and four years as the general manager of the Cleveland Browns.