N. Illinois DE Larry English (Athlon)
As the 2009 NFL Draft approaches, the editorial staff at Buffalo Rumblings will profile draft prospects that may end up being potential targets of the Buffalo Bills. We're back on the defensive side of the ball this afternoon, profiling Northern Illinois defensive end Larry English.
Welcome to today's edition of "How Kurupt's Fandom Could be Improved With Some Simple Pass Rush Talent." We have all been treated to some of the more depressing pass rushers over the past couple of seasons, with little improvement in sight. I will reiterate my opinion that we cannot reach that next level until we find some players that can add pressure off the edge. I have believed for two years now that the team needs to address their weak DE position early in the draft, and I remain convinced of that this year. However, there are certain players available in this draft that look capable of having a major impact while not costing the Bills the #11 pick. Is Larry English from Northern Illinois one of those players? And just as importantly, is Larry English a DE in the NFL?
I will be joined by Mad.Mike from SB Nation's Northern Illinois blog, Red and Black Attack, in attempting to solve that tricky riddle. And yes, there is a Northern Illinois blog on this amazing platform.
Larry English - Defensive End, Northern Illinois
6'2", 255 lbs, 4.74-second 40 yard dash, 1.59-second 10 yard split
Strengths: Good first step... Smart (scored 34 on the Wonderlic)... Pretty good all-around athlete... Motor doesn't stop... Gritty and tough... Strong... Solid frame with potential to add weight if necessary... Does a good job staying at home on bootlegs... Gets under blockers' pads... Has shown an ability to shed blockers... Active hands, always looks to knock the ball loose... Solid repetoire of pass rush moves... Instinctive... Experienced... Very productive.
What are his major strengths?
Mad.Mike: Larry English's greatest strength is his consistency. He will bring it every single down no matter what. English is also extremely strong and one tough SOB. He played most of last season with a cast on his hand and still won his second MAC MVP with a broken thumb.
Does he struggle a lot against the run? Do you think he could contribute right away?
Mad.Mike: I would say no. Defending against the run is actually one of his strengths. I think that English can definitely play right away. Sure, English played in a mid-major conference, but let's not forget that Super Bowl Champs Ben Roethlisberger (Miami OH) and James Harrison (Kent St) came from the MAC as well.
Weakness: Undersized as a DE... Lacks elite speed... Shows stiff hips... Has durability concerns... Average wingspan... Struggled in space somewhat... Never truly dominated despite weaker competition... Had a decent, but not great senior year... Inflated stats?... Will probably be an NFL 3-4 OLB.
What areas can he stand to improve in?
Mad.Mike: I think one thing that Larry can improve in is overall agility in my opinion. He is usually seen lumbering after the QB and over pursuit is sometimes a factor. In my opinion, he's also a lot quicker than he is fast.
Much more after the jump, including NFL comparisons, videos and linkage.
NFL Comparison: John Abraham, Atlanta Falcons; LaMarr Woodley, Pittsburgh Steelers
What one NFL player would you compare him to? I'm guessing you'll pick an OLB, so how about which DE would he compare best to?
Mad.Mike: I don't watch too much NFL other than my underachieving Bears, but in my opinion English likens most to John Abraham of the Atlanta Falcons. I just watched some highlights from Atlanta's site to confirm this and it tripped me out how they have the same physique and the same kind of moves on the field.
To this outsider, English reminds me of Woodley. A college defensive end, that dabbled in OLB play, and will likely have to make the switch to full-time 3-4 OLB in the NFL. He's also tough and aggressive like Woodley, which is why I choose the comparison.
Other English tidbits:
It appears that he's destined for a 3-4 OLB role in the pros, but how about as a 4-3 DE? The Bills need a major pass rush threat in the worst way from the DE position, so can English be a legit, full-time NFL DE? Was he a full time DE at NIU?
Mad.Mike: Yes, he was a full-time DE at NIU. Occasionally, he would drop back in some sort of zone blitz or to switch it up on defense. I believe he has the tools to either be a full-time DE in the right system or a 3-4 OLB. Larry performed fairly well against top talent in the Senior Bowl and kept us in games single handedly the last couple years at DE.
NIU DE Larry English Career Highlight Video (Part 1) (via niu32):
NIU DE Larry English Career Highlight Video (Part 2) (via niu32):
Does he fit the Bill?
I really want to say yes, but probably not. Despite having pass rush talents that the Bills desire, he just looks like the perfect 3-4 OLB. If English were ten pounds heavier, he'd be much more appealing to teams that run a 4-3. I'm also concerned with his long injury history which includes an ankle injury that cost him his freshman season, a torn ACL as a sophomore, a torn pectoral prior to this past season, and surgery to insert pins into his broken thumb during the season. He is what he is, in my opinion, and has a somewhat limited upside. He'll be a quality starting 3-4 OLB, but I'm not sure he'll ever be a 10-sack-a-season player. Because he's a late first round pick, early second at the latest, the Bills really aren't even in position to draft him without making some moves. As a guy who likely won't be able to be a full-time DE in a 4-3 scheme, English just doesn't seem to be a fit here.
Other scouting reports and information:
ESPN Insider (No. 8 ranked DE, Round 2 projection)
NFL Draft Countdown (No. 5 ranked DE, Round 2-3 projection)
Walter Football (No. 8 ranked DE, Round 1-2 projection)
NFL.com via NFLDraftScout (5th ranked OLB, Round 2 projection)
Mocking the Draft (No. 4 ranked OLB, Round 2 projection)
CDS Draft (Round 1-2 projection)
Larry English Pro Day Results
Once again I'd like to thank Mad.Mike for helping out and providing his opinion on Larry English. And hopefully this scouting report draws fewer crickets than my last one...