Courtney Upshaw, OLB/DE Alabama
|Result (NFL Combine)||Ranking (OLB)|
- Possesses elite-level strength
- Very strong upper body
- Sets the edge as well as any 2012 prospect
- Extremely physical
- Relies too much on brute strength to rush the passer
- Average athletic ability, agility, burst, and speed
- Does not consistently shed blockers
- Lacks fluidity; plays extremely stiff and rigid
Courtney Upshaw was a productive outside linebacker for Alabama who was asked to primarily rush the passer. This is why many consider him as a potential candidate for defensive end in the right 4-3 defense. He is a strong, physical pass rusher that racked up big sack totals during the 2011 college season.
Those who watched the BCS National Title Game saw a flash of his pass-rushing potential. He made plays all over the field, making tackles from sideline to sideline and consistently putting pressure on the quarterback. I immediately thought that he could be the impact pass-rusher that would elevate our defense to a whole new level. Over the past few months, that thought has changed entirely and here is why. Aside from his senior season, Upshaw showed inconsistency over the course of his college career. He would have would appear to be a break-out game, and then disappear for the next 2-3 games. Just looking at a few of his games shows exactly why. Although Upshaw is strong, his athleticism hovers around average for a pass-rusher. He consistently gets swallowed up by offensive linemen, failing to shed blocks that elite defenders should (as evidenced here). I’ve seen some runningbacks successfully block Upshaw, clearly a red flag. He depends too much on brute strength, and not enough on finesse. At the NFL level, this will not cut it.
Due to his limited athleticism, the odds are against him developing into an elite pass-rusher. I am not saying that he will never become an elite player, but the Seahawks need a player that is ready to make an impact right now. In my opinion, that player will probably not be Courtney Upshaw.