Early '13 Prospect Evaluations: LB Doug Randolph & LB Deon Hollins, Jr.
Doug Randolph 6'3" 220, Woodberry Forest School (Richmond, VA)
Doug Randolph is an extremely well-rounded prospect who fits in well as an outside linebacker in the 3-4 defense. However, unlike many 3-4 outside linebacker prospects, Randolph has exhibited skills that suggest pass rush and pass coverage abilities, making him a uniquely gifted prospect.
Wide receiver is not the offensive position that one would expect a top, pass-rushing high school LB/DE to play. But that is exactly where top-shelf OLB prospect Doug Randolph lines up. At wide receiver he displays the agility, ball skills and overall athletic ability that make him a special linebacker prospect. His agility is revealed through his ability to make defenders miss. Though one would like to see him sink his hips more consistently, he does a good job of putting his foot in the ground and making quick stops.
Randolph's change of direction shows good hips, which will translate well into pass coverage as a college linebacker. He has very good speed for his position which is evidenced in the highlights where he runs away from smaller defenders. His ball skills are excellent, as his video repeatedly shows him comfortably catching the ball with his hands and outside of his frame. He also exhibits ball judgment and high-pointing skills that are good for a wide receiver, let alone an outside linebacker prospect. Overall, the speed, agility and ball skills are tools Randolph can use to be a very good second-level pass defender in college.
Randolph's skills as a pass rusher and run defender are impressive as well. His "get-off" is slow at times, but his athletic pass-rush moves often make up for any instance in which he loses that split second. The shoulder turn he utilizes on his video for outside rushes allows him to shorten the corner and provide a more direct route to the quarterback. He uses his hands well and he plays even stronger than his size would suggest, often throwing larger offensive linemen aside to make a clear path to the ball carrier or passer. He can be stout against the run and has a good sense of how to play blockers as an edge defender.
Randolph is quick enough to avoid being hooked and does a good job of stringing out outside running plays. When operating from a two-point stance, he will need to be more consistent with his hip and pad level in college with regard to taking on linemen. As a tackler, Randolph does a very good job of breaking down, squaring up and finishing the play.
Deon Hollins, Jr. 6'2" 215 lbs, Fort Bend Marshall High School (Missouri City, TX)
Explosiveness and high energy set Deon Hollins, Jr. apart as an outside linebacker prospect. His pass-rush skills are among the best in the 2013 class of defensive ends and linebackers. He already holds offers from schools likeTexas Tech, Nebraska, Washington, Arizona, Arkansas, Notre Dame, Stanford, Tulsa, Colorado, and Duke.
Though Hollins' height may not seem typical for a 3-4 outside linebacker, it may be a distinct advantage for him when he is rushing the passer. When combined with his speed, his naturally low pad level causes problems for the taller offensive tackle prototypes. It can prove very difficult for them to reach down from their 6'7" height and re-direct a quick, speed-rushing linebacker who stays as low as Hollins. His burst and "get-off" are not likely equaled in the 2013 class.
The Texas 5A offensive tackles that he faces often have no chance at even laying a hand on him before he is past them and on his way to the quarterback. To supplement his five-star caliber speed rush, he adds a swim move with a great shoulder turn along the obvious speed rush complement – an inside rip move that easily beats lineman who try to match his outside speed rush with an extra-deep kick slide.
Hollins' quickness also provides benefits against the run, as he quickly penetrates the offensive backfield and makes tackles for loss or completely destroys the integrity of the play. He can sometimes be too fast for his own good and over run plays. But the havoc he causes is usually enough to allow teammates plenty of time to finish the play.
Despite weighing a little over 200 lbs, Hollins shows strength at the point of attack and his speed can work to neutralize the size and strength advantages of much larger offensive linemen. That is true even to the point where he can split double teams with quickness. Such will be much tougher against college offensive linemen, but as an outside linebacker, Hollins should be able to handle edge blockers and the occasional pulling offensive lineman.
Given that he projects as a linebacker, the one question about Hollins is how comfortable he is playing off the line. He has the quickness and speed to play off the line, but he may need time to get used to the different pursuit angles and pass coverage responsibilities of a 3-4 outside linebacker. The good news is that he does figure to see more playing time in space at a new school this season. If he shows the ability to play in space in summer camps and/or during his senior season, Hollins will be a sure-fire 5-star-caliber player.
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