From now until the 2020 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 Troy Dye/LB Oregon – 6’4 226
- Unbelievably long arms
- Uses his length well to keep guards at bay
- Surprisingly good at the point of attack
- Knows how to work around blocks and trash to get to ball carrier
- Very hard to block in the running game
- Frame looks like it has room to grow and add muscle
- Chucks and disrupts routes in legal zone
- Very physical for being undersized
- Adjusts his angle to the ball on the fly very well
- Good range in coverage and show man coverage ability
- Does not play like a tall linebacker and uses good leverage
- Does not attack and create negative plays in running game
- Lacks decisiveness in run game reads, slow reactions
- Injured hand late in the season hampered his play
- Tends to catch and tackle instead of attack and stop momentum
- Not a good blitzer
- 234 solo tackles, five interceptions, four forced fumbles in four year career.
- Led the Ducks in tackles for four-straight seasons, including as a true freshman.
- Safety who transitioned to linebacker in college
- Voted as Co-Team MVP with QB Justin Herbert
- Has played in 50 career collegiate games
- Third all-time in tackles at Oregon
Size is only a problem when it’s a problem. It does not seem to be for Oregon linebacker Troy Dye. The 6-4 linebacker was listed as a scant 226 pounds by Oregon as a senior, which is alarmingly light considering his 6-4 frame with long, lanky limbs. Yet the former high school safety has embraced the role of linebacker during his four seasons and plays with the physicality and strength necessary to execute most of the duties of the linebacker position.
In fact, one Dye’s strengths as a four-year starter is his ability to stack and shed linemen in pursuit of the football. While a hand injury slowed him down during his senior year, when he’s healthy he’s exceptional finding the football.
Dye’s calling card as a linebacker are his vine-like arms. He is able to control bigger blockers by keeping them at bay with his reach, before shedding to engage with the ball-carrier. His run fits are generally good and he does a very good job of attacking blockers on the proper shoulder in order to clog running lanes between the tackles. He also has the range to chase to the sideline and bring the ball carrier down.
The California native also tends to punch above his weight and does not generally give ground in the run game. In fact, his high-end plays are very impressive.
Yet size is only a problem when it’s a problem; and it’s a problem at times for Troy Dye.
There is also a consistency issue with Dye where he does not always get a clean read on the snap and will be too passive when reading his keys. He does not trigger downhill and create negative plays for the offense in the running game. This leads to more catch and tackle type of plays instead of tackle for loss. This couple with his undersized frame is a concern that may lower his value on draft day for some teams.
The good news is that Dye’s frame looks like it could support more mass. His waist does not taper to the point of pinching off potential growth to his lower body and with his natural strength and tenacity, he is not far off from being a complete run defender.
The most exciting part about Dye’s abilities are that he maintained his safety skills as he’s grown into his frame as a linebacker. He’s able to cover in the short area in zone defense and more impressively, in man coverage against tight ends.
While he’s got to clean up his footwork and become more efficient in his coverage, he shows the high-end ability to stay with very talented receivers in man coverage. His arm length and speed make him an ideal candidate to be a ‘tight end eraser’ at the next level. These abilities give a defensive coordinator the ability to stay in base defense while covering spread formations that are proliferating the NFL.
To be clear, Dye shows good ability, but lacks the consistency and overall fluidity in his movements to match up with the best at the position. Yet he’s more than capable of being a very good off-ball linebacker with the versatility to play in space, or to line up between the tackles. His coverage ability (when he cleans up his mental mistakes) is more valuable than any deficiencies he may has as a run defender. He’s more than worth a mid-round pick for a team looking for a coverage linebacker who shows the heart and technique to hold up in the run game.
Projected Round: 2-3
Games Watched: Rose Bowl 2020 (vs Wisconsin), Auburn, @Washington, vs Utah, vs Colorado,