Matthew Alkire is the co-founder of Scout's Notebook, which primarily focuses on the scouting of NFL prospects before they enter the draft. Matt has received training from an NFL scout and is responsible for the Big 10, Big East, Big 12, MAC, MWC and Independents as well as any other major I-A, II-A,II, III and NAIA prospects. You can join their website for free at www.scoutsnotebook.com .
Justin Trattou, DEI usually find myself writing that linebackers have a nose for the ball, but Justin is one of those ends that just has great awareness of where the ball is at all times. He seems to be a very intelligent player, keeping contain as to not give up the big play, but aggressive enough to make plays in the backfield and be disruptive. A thing you'll hear from defensive coaches is that they want a player to "hit through, not hit to" when tackling. Justin is definitely a "hit through" type of guy. While he is very physical hitting the opponent, he also makes it a point to wrap up and drag down. He looks strong at the point of attack and plays the run well.
He uses his hands well to shed blockers and penetrate, and most importantly, plays under control. While Justin didn't wow me with his athleticism, he did use the bull rush and a shoulder dip to get to the QB quite well. Justin does take good angles to the ball carrier and can change directions relatively well. He did have a solid burst off the snap and showed some closing speed, but I do think he'll need to work to improve both of those areas at the next level. If he is to move inside to tackle, that area to work on as a DE becomes an area of strength. I really saw two different players watching Justin's film, and I am under the assumption that I may have watched some sophomore footage in there as the more recent action showed improvement and an overall change in style. The player that really came to mind when watching him was Tamba Hali. Obviously Justin does not have the size that Hali had, however his skill set immediately reminded me of the Penn State standout.
Ben Martin, DEMartin's athleticism is the first thing that jumps out at you when watching him play. He redirects well and is quick in transition. Ben brings a combination of burst and pure speed that is certainly intriguing to say the least. I see a player who pursues well and hustles all over the field. I think you're looking at a raw athlete when recruiting Ben to play at the next level, therefore I think he could play in any scheme, whether it be as a 34 OLB for a team like Florida, or with his hand down in a more conventional 43 scheme. Martin is more of the edge-rusher type at this point and uses his athleticism well to get off of blocks and into the backfield.
He also showed some coverage ability and looked relatively natural in the open field. With a 6-foot-5 frame, he also will be able to add significant weight at the next level and will benefit from a collegiate strength program as athleticism alone won't be enough to shed blockers. I do think Ben will need to refine his game and work hard on becoming a more polished player. One thing I noticed from watching him is that he fails to close the deal often. He was a constant force that the opposing QB had to deal with, however, I did not see him recording many sacks. That could just be the highlights I saw, but never the less it was something I noticed. I also think Ben could work on his tackling as he did seem to be a bit of an arm tackler. He's definitely the type of kid who has a high ceiling and could develop into one heck of a pass rusher with proper coaching and hard work.
One of the requests from Irish Eyes readers was that I compare players at a position, so I'll take a moment to do that with Martin and Trattou. First of all, I want to talk a bit about how I evaluate high school prospects. I don't spend my time trying to pick apart strength and weaknesses like I would with an NFL prospect when watching these young men. I look at them like I would if I were a college coach: Does this player have the athleticism to play at our level, and/or do they have the size needed to play at our level?
If you're expecting heavy criticism when you read my reviews you won't find much. There are different factors such as level of competition, quality of coaching, quality of strength training, experience, etc. that way far to heavily on where a player may be at right now for me to be too critical. I look at the entire body of work and what I think that player's potential may be with professional coaching and working in a college weight room.
In this case I see Justin and Ben as near opposites in terms of what they bring to the table. I do think that Trattou is more polished and fundamentally sound then Martin at this point, however he does not bring the same athleticism to the table. As much as I hate to predict how a player will do, Justin isn't a player that I would expect to be anything less then a solid player for Notre Dame. With Ben, I think you have a young man who will really have a chance to develop into a disruptive pass rusher at the next level. With the right attitude and proper coaching, his ceiling could end up being pretty high. If you're an upside type of person, then Ben would be your guy. If you like knowing what you're getting, then you'd probably lean towards Trattou. To be frank, they both looked like very good players, and if they put the effort into college like they were in their film, they should both develop into impact players.