From now until the 2022 NFL Draft takes place, we hope to scout and create profiles for as many prospects as possible, examining their strengths, weaknesses, and what they can bring to an NFL franchise. These players could be potential top 10 picks, all the way down to Day 3 selections and priority undrafted free agents. Today, I’ll be profiling a linebacker prospect who has made the transition from playing defensive end and possesses the size, athleticism, and football character to be a likely riser in the pre-draft process.
#0 Darrian Beavers, LB, Cincinnati (R-Senior) – 6040, 255lb
Senior Bowl/Combine Invite
|Player||Ht/Wt||Hand Size||Arm Length||Wingspan|
|Darrian Beavers||N/A, N/A||N/A||N/A||N/A|
|40-Yard Dash||10-Yard Dash||Short Shuttle||3-Cone|
|Broad Jump||Vertical||Bench Press|
— Great blend of size and athleticism for the position
— Has the play speed and explosiveness to play downhill, playing with aggressiveness and physicality against the run
— Has active hands and can stack and shed blocks effectively against offensive linemen and tight ends
— Violent hitter who will go through his target on contact
— DE convert who has a real feel for rushing the passer off the edge as well as from the box
— Experience on the defensive line help him set the edge when asked to play down on the line of scrimmage
— Is a mismatch when asked to take on TEs in the run game
— Will get hands-on with TE in coverage, jamming them as they attempt to get into their routes
— Instinctive player in zone coverage, understanding spacing and leverage needs to close space on intended receivers to disrupt the pass or rally to the catch point
— Can pursue sideline-to-sideline, but best work comes downhill as size limits effective movement laterally
— Better tackler in the hole near the LOS rather than in space at the second level
— Has occasions where he leaves his feet as a tackler instead of running through his target, leading to misses
— Eyes can get stuck in the backfield watching the ball rather than flowing laterally to his gap
— Should develop better hand usage as a pass rusher to win more consistently around the edge
— Lacks the long speed and movement skills to carry receives vertically in man coverage on vertical route concepts or across the field
— Redshirt Senior prospect from Cincinnati, OH
— Played at Colerain High School as a safety and WR
— Recognized as a scholar athlete and posted a 4.0 GPA as a senior
— Also lettered in varsity basketball and track as a multi-sport athlete
— Has gained 100 pounds since high school, where he was a safety and wide receiver before beginning his collegiate career at UCONN
— Committed to UCONN and played in all 12 games his freshman season at DE, notching 15 total tackles (nine solo), three TFLs, and three sacks
— Played in 12 games and started six as a sophomore, collecting 23 total stops (15 solo), 4.5 TFLs, four sacks, and two PBUs
— Transferred home to Cincinnati in the spring of 2019, moving to linebacker for the Bearcats
— Played in 14 games as a junior, starting ten totaling 36 tackles (21 solo) and 1.5 TFLs
— Started ten games at linebacker in 2020, totaling 58 stops (38 solo) 7.5 TFLs, 2.5 sacks, a forced fumble, two PBUs, and two INTs
— Played and started in 13 games as a redshirt senior and totaled 98 total stops (46 solo), 9.5 TFLs, 3.5 sacks, two PBUs, and one INT
— Dick Butkus Award finalist and First-Team All- AAC in 2021, Second Team All-AAC in 2020
Darrian Beavers is a home-grown kid born on the banks of the Queen City who started his college career at UCONN before coming home to play his final three seasons with the Bearcats. Beavers has played all over the place on the gridiron since high school, starting out as a wide receiver and safety before bulking up to play on the defensive line for the Huskies. When he transferred to Cincinnati, Beavers was asked to standup and play off-ball linebacker which ended up being a great fit for the 6’4, 255lb defender on a loaded Bearcat defense with CFP aspirations.
Beavers has a hulking frame for the linebacker position in a similar mold to recent draftee Zaven Collins and uses it well when playing against the run. He is a downhill thumper and can be a violent striker when asked to fill the hole like we see on this rep against Indiana where Beavers rumbles through the gap, stopping the runner in his tracks while putting his helmet on the football, forcing the fumble on the goal line for the turnover.
Beavers’ strength and size aid his ability to stack and shed blocks against the run, being able to disengage from offensive linemen and tight ends to make a play on the football. Here is an example against Notre Dame this season where Beavers abuses #87 Michael Mayer, blowing him back and making the stop on the runner at the LOS.
Despite being 255lb, Beavers has notable burst and explosiveness when he opens up as a run-and-chase defender. Take a look at this stop by Beavers where he reads the jet sweep and flies to the sideline, getting past the attempted block attempt by the OT and kindly escorts the runner out of bounds.
Beavers not only shows off this burst and closing speed as a run defender, but also as a pass rusher. My friend a former co-worker Jeremiah Ortiz currently serves as an assistant strength and conditioning coach for the Bearcat Football team and messaged me saying “he is a good 255-260lb with a tested 40-inch vertical leap and can ball”. You see that explosiveness here as he closes ground quickly on #17 Jack Coan, forcing him to throw a bad pass that falls into the hands of #1 Ahmad Gardner for the INT.
Beavers’ previous history as an edge rusher for UCONN pops up on tape as he is commonly asked to put his hand in the dirt and rush the pass off the edge on third downs. Beavers shows great burst, pursuit, and closing speed as a pass rusher, having the size and strength to take on offensive tackles in pass protection. Watch this rep where Beavers hits the club/rip combo around the edge, beating the LT and sandwiching Coan in the pocket for the sack.
Defensive coordinators will love Beavers’ versatility as he can rush with his hand in the dirt as well as from the box. He shows the latter here against the Crimson Tide, closing ground quickly on #9 Bryce Young and wraps him up in the backfield of the sack, forcing third down.
Many would label Beavers as a two-down thumper because of his size, but he has shown to be a capable pass coverage linebacker when asked to complete drops into zone or when assigned running backs leaking out of the backfield. He may not have the long speed and fluidity to cover tight ends vertically down the seam, but he does well when the pass catcher is in front of him. We see an example of this as Beavers picks up #23 Kyren Williams running the wheel route out of the backfield up the right sideline, playing with good leverage and keeping Williams a short distance away where he can break on the ball once thrown.
One thing that did stick out from Beavers take that can be a knock on him is his tendency to leave his feet as a tackler. He naturally plays with a good forward lean, making him anxious to shoot through the ball carrier before wrapping up, causing him to fall off tackles on occasion like we see on this tackle attempt.
Beavers also appears to be a tad stiff when it comes to lateral movement skill and the ability to shuffle up and down the LOS. He likes to turn-and-run, making a tad slow to open up at times in pursuit. We see that as well as the diving tackle attempt occur here on the goal line against the Irish as Beavers doesn’t close down the edge fast enough, resorting to leaving his feet as the runner gets outside and dives into the end zone for the score.
We see a little bit of good and bad here on this play by Beavers against Alabama as he does a good job working through traffic in pursuit of #4 Brian Robinson, getting to the ballcarrier and wraps him up, but fails to finish the play as Robinson breaks through the arm tackle attempt and churns forward for extra yardage.
Overall, Darrian Beavers has made the transition from a skinny skill guy in high school to packing on nearly a hundred pounds to play as an edge rusher before finding a home at off-ball linebacker. Beavers has his physical limitations at linebacker concerning his ability to quickly change directions and run with backs and tight ends down the field, but he is a physical throwback type of player at linebacker that also brings the ability to rush the passer to the table. Beavers also is a capable zone coverage defender, having the quick trigger downhill we see when he plays the run to impact passing lanes with his size and long reach.
In terms of pro comparisons, current Raider and former Seattle Seahawk linebacker K.J. Wright possesses a similar skillset to Beavers as a rocked-up off-ball linebacker that has also played on the edge of the defense, is effective downhill against the run, and is a reliable zone coverage defender. Both Beavers and Wright appear a little tight in terms of lateral movement compared to other planet theory LBs like Collins and Anthony Barr, but still aren’t incapable of being a three-down defender.
Wright was selected in the fourth round of the 2011 NFL Draft, and while Beavers may not see his stock soar into that first round range, I do expect him to test better than Wright in several categories, likely making him a Day Two selection. Beavers would do best going to a defensive scheme like that of the New England Patriots where he is allowed to be that supped-up linebacker that can be moved all over the defensive formation, having the skillset to play in the box as well as on the edge as a run defender and as a pass rusher.
The Pittsburgh Steelers could find Beavers as a potential fit as a BUCK linebacker, playing a similar role Vince Williams did as a downhill thumper that can stack and shed against the run as well as rush the passer in Pittsburgh’s aggressive defensive scheme. Should Beavers play well at the Senior Bowl and test well at the NFL Combine, we could see his draft stock rise the next few months prior to the 2022 NFL Draft.
Projection: Day Two
Depot Draft Grade: 8.1– Future Quality Starter (2nd Round)
Games Watched: at Indiana (2021), at Notre Dame (2021), vs Alabama (2021)
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