Running Down a Dream

The NFL Draft begins today through Saturday. While Jeremiah George's size makes him a candidate to go undrafted, he's the type of player who can stick on a roster

After all the torturous workouts, the crummy showing at the Combine, the bounce-back effort at ISU's Pro Day, the private workout with Tampa Bay, one of two things will happen to Jeremiah George this weekend.

He could be drafted within the seven rounds of the 2014 NFL Draft, one of the lucky 265.

Or George, Iowa State's first-team All-Big 12 linebacker, could find himself an undrafted free agent after the final pick of the seventh round is announced Saturday (Houston owns it, by the way).

The latter wouldn't be the worst thing in the world for an undersized linebacker who needs to find the right fit to make his stop in the NFL last past the first cup of coffee. Immediately following the draft, a game of phone frenzy will ensue between agents and teams and, if George has his way, he'll end up on a team that runs a version of the 3-4 defense, allowing him to play inside where his height (5-foot-10) isn't an issue.

"I've had talks with some teams about that," George told in February. "They'd say for a guy my size they'd try to put a shade technique (moving a d-lineman over to occupy a particular gap) in front of him — to protect him a little more so they can make plays. For example, the New Orleans Saints, they had a scheme where they run a mix of 3-4 and 4-3 in Rob Ryan's defense. They had to protect their undersized linebackers."

If it's a 4-3 scheme, George is too small to play at middle, so he'd make his home as a weak-side linebacker.

"I've discussed a lot of things with Coach Rhoads and Coach Wally Burnham so when I had to make the transition I kind of already was ahead of the learning curve. I took my athletic ability, my coach-ability, and it's helped me a lot."

At worst, George will have to carve out a career as a special teams demon, and his nose for the football (No. 3 nationally in tackles per game) and relentlessness would serve him well in that capacity.

(Potentially) Good Fits for George

  • Browns, Cardinals, Chargers, Chiefs, Eagles, Jaguars (started a 5-foot-11 rookie at OLB in 4-3 base), Jets, Lions (4-3 base with a recent history of smaller Mike 'backers), Packers, Ravens, Redskins, Steelers, Seahawks (4-3 base but doesn't mind smaller linebackers), Texans
  • (Potentially) Weird Fits for George

  • Bengals, Bears, Buccaneers (George not natural enough in coverage to thrive as a WLB in Tampa 2), Cowboys, Falcons, Niners (3-4 base but utilizes bigger inside 'backers, Rams.
  • My Call: Have a hunch that George goes undrafted which, again, isn't the worst thing in the world … but the way the sixth round breaks down, there are plenty of good fits — Texans (twice), Browns, Redskins, Jaguars (twice), Jets (twice) Ravens, Saints, Chargers, Colts — from picks 177 to 213. Really a crap-shoot.

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