NFL Draft

2019 NFL Draft Player Profiles: New Mexico State LB Terrill Hanks

From now until the 2019 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.

#2 Terrill Hanks/TE/6’3 235 lbs

The Good:

  • Fluid movement to the ball carrier
  • Great instincts
  • Capable of carrying tight ends or running backs in coverage
  • Big hitter
  • Tackles well in space, one on one
  • Elite athleticism
  • Sideline to sideline speed

The Bad:

  • Lacks strength to beat his blockers
  • Struggles to stack and shed his man, even tight ends pose a challenge
  • Misses a fair share of tackles at or behind the line of scrimmage
  • Can take bad angles at times

Bio:

  • 2018: 101 tackles, 9 tackles for a loss, 1 interception,
  • Career: 391 tackles, 43.5 tackles for a loss, 11 sacks, 8 interceptions
  • Safety to linebacker convert
  • Three straight seasons with 100+ tackles
  • 2019 Senior Bowl invite

Tape Breakdown:

Senior Bowl week is over and one of the more polarizing prospects to benefit from this week’s practices is New Mexico State linebacker Terrill Hanks. The linebacker’s name had been picking up steam heading into this week in Mobile and he has built a real buzz around himself with his play.

Down in Mobile, Hanks showed a lot of great features that certainly boosted his draft stock. Great downhill tackling, athleticism, loose hips and most importantly the ability to cover.

Hanks has one intangible that many linebackers in today’s game do not have. That is the ability to carry running backs and tight ends in coverage. Gifted with elite athleticism and very fluid, loose hips, the New Mexico State linebacker has what it takes to carry even the shiftiest players down the field.

When you combine natural athleticism with great instincts, the result is usually something really special. Hanks has that something special when it comes to his ability in coverage, as his instincts for the football are unworldly at times. Take a look at the second rep above, Hanks fakes a blitz then drops back into coverage and somehow breaks up a pass up the seam. It is almost as if he has eyes at the back of his head.

Watching Hanks play may make you believe that he is a safety trapped in a linebacker’s body. That conclusion would be exactly right as Hanks came into New Mexico State as a safety and transitioned to linebacker after his freshman season. The transitioned has led to big results as Hanks has recorded 100+ tackles in each of his last three seasons while also roaming the secondary like a safety. Not only does he roam like a defensive back, Hanks is also capable of delivering a big downhill hit like a safety as well.

Now no player is as great as their brightest film and no player is as bad as their darkest film either. Hanks is very much a player with a lot of upside but there are still a few points for correction. At 6’3 and 235 pounds, the linebacker is still very lean and struggles with strength at the point of attack. Hanks is vulnerable to getting washed out of plays by opposing offensive lineman or tight ends. On the play above, he gets washed out of the way by Utah State tight end Dax Raymond.

There is also a difference between processing a play from the secondary and from the linebacker position. Safeties are afforded a fraction of a second longer to diagnose plays in the backfield as opposed to linebackers who have to be able to read a play almost instantly. Hanks has great mental processing but his game still craves more consistently. The linebacker is still vulnerable to either taking a poor angle or whiffing completely. Though Hanks’ film does show a pattern, in the open field, or outside the tackles, he is almost always an automatic tackle but when it comes between the tackles, he struggles at times to lock on his target.

The bottom line on Hanks may be this: he has a lot of upside, he is great in coverage, and he is one of the most naturally athletic linebackers in this year’s class. His strength and ability to swift through junk to get to the ball carrier are his obvious causes for concern but for a player who has only played linebacker for three years, Hanks is showing incredible progress. Ultimately, I think he would be best fit as a weakside linebacker in a 4-3 formation as his skills translate best there. With a great week in Mobile for the Senior Bowl and natural athleticism, Hanks will likely go no later than day two.

Projection: Day Two

Games Watched: vs Minnesota, vs Utah State, vs Wyoming

Previous 2019 NFL Draft Player Profiles
Devin White Dax Raymond Josh Allen Te’von Coney Germaine Pratt
Mack Wilson Amani Oruwariye Josh Oliver Devin Bush Trayvon Mullen
Montez Sweat Mike Edwards Andy Isabella Myles Gaskin Jachai Polite
Daylon Mack Jaylon Ferguson Brian Burns
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