In the Film Room: Blake Lueders

Blake Lueders began to build up quite a following on Irish Eyes. For several weeks many posters, including myself, waited and waited for Notre Dame to offer one of Indiana's top football players. On February 27th Irish fans got their wish and Lueders got an offer from Notre Dame. Lueders is one of the state of Indiana's best prospects and the top defensive player in the state.

This year's class possesses several highly regarded and highly sought after prospects, which is rare for Indiana. The Irish already have a commitment from South Bend Clay standout Daniel Smith and they are also hot on the trail of Plainfield standout linemen James Hurst. Lueders is another big time Indiana player who the Irish coaches hope will sign with the Irish come February.

The 6'5, 245 pound Lueders has excellent size. He's tall, has long arms, broad shoulders, and is thickly built. He's a naturally strong and powerful football player with a strong upper body. Lueders has a good initial punch, although as he transitions to the defensive line he'll need to learn to explode off the ball through his hips, shoot his hands quicker and with more authority, and drive his legs. Lueders is quite aggressive and appears to love contact. He has excellent toughness and mixes it up with linemen and fullbacks who are trying to block him. I love Lueders motor and it's fun to watch him fly sideline-to-sideline making plays in high school.

Lueders is a solid athlete with decent speed, although he lacks the lateral speed and sideline-to-sideline quickness to play linebacker at college. This is the biggest reason Lueders is projected to play defensive end or 3-4 outside linebacker at the collegiate level. Despite a lack of pure speed, Lueders does possess solid quickness for a bigger player. The Zionsville standout is light on his feet and active. This allows him to move quickly and quickly attack the ball. Lueders is a bit stiff in the hip area which slows him down a bit when he has to plant and change direction. He is quick, however, when reading, flowing, and then exploding up-field. Lueders has good balance and is able to stay off the ground as well as bounce off blockers. He shows very good closing speed and once he gets going downhill he is hard to stop. Lueders aggressiveness, quick burst, and closing speed allows him to make a lot of plays in the backfield.

The instincts of this young linebacker are also a factor in his dominance. Lueders anticipates the snap well. This allows him to get a good jump on the ball. He also shows excellent ability to read what is happening in front of him. He does an excellent job of reading the line and doesn't get suckered in by misdirection looks. Once he has diagnosed the player you will see Lueders fly to the football. He does an excellent job of locating the football and takes good angles to the football. His aggressiveness, quickness, and instincts often allows him to beat linemen and blockers to the point of attack. This allows him to either make an early tackle or it forces the runner to cut too soon or where he doesn't want to go. Lueders is also a fundamentally sound football player who is efficient with his footwork and more often than not plays with a good base. He has a tendency to leave his feet as he attacks the ball carrier, but overall he's a solid tackler. His strength and power allows him to get a good push on ball carriers, and as he learns to explode his hips through a ball carrier he'll become a powerful tackler. Lueders tends to react a bit slowly on play action passes, which won't affect him a great deal as a defensive end. He does, however, do a good job of opening up and getting depth on his zone drops when it's a pure pass play. Lueders also does a solid job of reading the quarterback and jumping routes in the zone. He has the quickness and length to defend tight ends and bigger backs, but he will struggle to cover quicker players in man-to-man situations.

As mentioned previously Lueders plays with a good base. At 6'5 he is able to stay low and get inside of linemen as well as keep smaller players from getting inside of him. He will, however, have to greatly improve how he uses his hands. He tends to let blockers get into his chest. At the next level he'll have to learn to use his long arms and upper body strength to shoot into the blockers, extend, and keep good distance which will allow him to disengage more quickly. Lueders takes good angles to the football and as mentioned previously uses his instincts and quickness to aggressively and quickly attack ball carriers. He also anchors well against linemen, and as he learns to use his hands properly he'll be solid on the edge holding his ground against bigger run blockers.

As he transitions to defensive end at the next level Lueders will be able to use his good initial quickness and snap anticipation to get a jump on the edge. His closing speed will also benefit him as he pursues quarterbacks. He does, however, lack the pure speed to be simply a speed rusher and lacks the fluidity to dominate with a lot of double moves. His quickness, strength, and motor will allow him to put pressure on the quarterback with several moves that he should be able to develop. I see Lueders developing the ability to bull rush, use a quick rip move as he shoots gaps, and use a club to work against offensive tackles. These power moves will be his best assets against the pass, but they will also allow him to mix in quick speed rushes off the edge to get pressure. When up in a two point stance Lueders times his blitzes well and uses his quickness to fly through gaps and get into the offensive backfield.

Lueders seems to have accepted the fact that defensive end or the 3-4 outside linebacker position is where his future lies. If the Irish are fortunate enough to land a commitment and eventual signature from this in-state standout, they will get themselves a strong-side defensive end prospect who would be an excellent combination to Chris Martin. Whereas Martin would be an athletic and speed rushing weak-side end, Lueders would naturally transition into the strong-side position. His strength and aggressiveness will allow him to hold up well against bigger run blockers and his quickness and strength will allow him to be a disrupter against the pass, although I don't see him being a huge sack player. Lueders is the kind of aggressive, tough, hard-nosed Midwestern prospect that the Irish defense needs to continue to bring into their defense. Top Stories