NFL Draft

2018 NFL Draft Player Profiles: Memphis ILB Genard Avery

From now until the 2018 NFL Draft takes place, we hope to showcase as many prospects as possible and examine both their strengths and weaknesses. Most of these profiles will feature individuals that the Pittsburgh Steelers are likely to have an interest in, while a few others will be top-ranked players. If there is a player you would like us to analyze, let us know in the comments below.

#6 Genard Avery/LB/Memphis 6’1”, 255 Lbs

The Good

-Squatty, powerful frame
-Consistent tackler with strong numbers year-to-year
-Shows flashes of straight-line speed that’s elite for position
-Can play inside or outside and has flashed as a pass rusher
-Comfortable spot dropping or playing man coverage over middle of the field
-Flows well sideline-to-sideline and diagnoses plays quickly

The Bad

-Tends to drop his head when engaging blockers in the box
-Lacks strong hand usage at point of attack
-Relied too much on athleticism as an edge rusher
-Tight hips when trying to turn the corner as an edge rusher
-Struggles with process on how to engage blockers, i.e. when to slip around, or when to take head on


-Started all 13 games for the Tigers in 2017, garnering first-team All-American Athletic Conference honors with 80 tackles, 22 for loss, 8.5 sacks, two pass breakups, and two forced fumbles
-Has played in 37 games, making 21 starts
-Recorded 232 tackles, including 170 solo stops and 62 assists in his career, including 45.5 TFL, 21.5 sacks, seven pass breakups and four forced fumbles.
-Former all-state football player in Mississippi in high school

Tape Breakdown

Memphis linebacker Genard Avery was a massive sleeper at linebacker prior to the NFL Combine a few weeks ago in Indianapolis. After testing exceptionally well for the position, Avery became a hot name among the draft circle.

Popping on the tape, Avery nearly jumps off the screen with his athleticism and speed for the position. Yes, he’s a bit small, but he flies around all over the place.

While at Memphis, Avery was a play-making machine. Over four seasons at Memphis, Avery averaged nearly 7 tackles a game, leaning heavily on his speed sideline-to-sideline to make plays on the ball carrier.

If you read my Roquan Smith profile from early March, you can see some serious similarities between Smith and Avery’s build, as well as the athleticism each has flowing sideline to sideline.

Look at the way Avery runs down UCF’s Taj McGowan, forcing him to stretch the run to the sideline for the tackle for loss. McGowan was a homerun hitter at running back last season for the Knights due to his breakaway speed, but even he can’t outrun Avery to the sideline.

In the same game, Avery shows off his closing speed again, flying downhill after dropping into coverage to slam down quarterback McKenzie Milton behind the line of scrimmage on a quarterback scramble.

Avery has good eyes for the position, constantly seeing where the football is and what’s happening in front of him. You can tell he has a ton of belief in his speed, because he drops into zone coverage here, and as soon as Milton begins to pull the ball down, Avery plants and bursts forward, closing ground in a hurry to get to Milton for the stop.

He’s not just a run and tackle linebacker either; he can play against the run in the box, where he can use his former all-state wrestling skills and apply them to the position. Look at the way he punches out at the pulling lineman in the hole, allowing him to stay clean, sliding off to make the stop for a short gain.

While he does struggle with consistency in situations like this, he has shown the ability to do it correctly. He’s raw, so it’ll all come down to coaching at the next level.

As an athletic linebacker, he’ll undoubtedly continue to get more love as we draw closer and closer to the NFL Draft. However, it’s important to keep in mind that he wasn’t much of a name prior to the combine, so don’t go overboard with the hype.

He’s good, but he’s not top 50 good, as I’ve seen one or two draftniks overreact to after seeing his tape. He still struggles with hand usage and can get lost behind blockers when he is slow to diagnose, but he has all the tools to be a very good starter in the NFL.

I feel comfortable placing an Early Day 3 (fourth round) grade on Avery right now.

Projection:  Early Day 3

Games Watched:  vs. Western Kentucky (’16), at UCF (’17), vs. SMU (’17)


Previous 2018 NFL Draft Player Profiles
Sam Darnold Garret Dooley Calvin Ridley Fred Warner Ronald Jones II
Maurice Hurst Mike McCray DeShon Elliott  Malik Jefferson Ogbo Okoronkwo
Trayvon Henderson Josh Rosen Ronnie Harrison Kallen Ballage Cedric Wilson Jr.
Micah Kiser Will Hernandez Leighton Vander Esch Josh Allen   Harold Landry
Marquis Haynes  Tremaine Edmunds Kerryon Johnson Lorenzo Carter  Sony Michael
Kyzir White  Rashaan Evans  Tegray Scales  Isaac Yiadom  Jeff Holland
 Rashaad Penny John Kelly Bo Scarbrough  Roquan Smith  Durham Smythe
 Mark Walton  Josey Jewell  PJ Hall  Dorian O’Daniel  Josh Adams
 Leon Jacobs  Marcus Davenport  Jack Cichy  Royce Freeman  Nick DeLuca
 Vita Vea  Darrel Williams  Mason Rudolph  Shaun Dion Hamilton  MJ Stewart
 Derwin James  Kameron Kelly Justin Reid Sam Hubbard Da’Ron Payne
DaeSean Hamilton Nyheim Hines Arden Key Hercules Mata’afa Jason Cabinda
Marcus Allen Michael Gallup Jessie Bates III Kemoko Turay


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