Thomas Report: LB Marcus Freeman

With the 154th choice in the NFL Draft, the Chicago Bears took Ohio State linebacker Marcus Freeman. From his body structure to tackling ability to game analysis, here is the most comprehensive scouting report available. It's a staggering amount of info courtesy of Dave-Te' Thomas. Go nuts.


Outside Linebacker
Ohio State University Buckeyes
6-0.5, 239
Huber Heights, Ohio
Wayne High School

Teaming with middle linebacker James Laurinaitis, Freeman helped lead a defensive unit that has ranked among the nation's elite ever since he moved into the starting lineup as a sophomore. In his three years in the lineup, the Buckeyes have ranked fifth in scoring defense in 2006 (12.77 ppg), led the nation in total defense (233.0 ypg) and scoring defense (12.77 ppg) in 2007 and gave up just 293.77 yards per game while placing sixth nationally in scoring defense (13.92 ppg) during his senior campaign.

While Freeman may not have garnered the national attention afforded Laurinaitis and cornerback Malcolm Jenkins, the OSU coaching staff regarded Freeman as its most important defensive player. He not only brought classic tackle technique, quickness, power and intelligence to the field, but he was also one of the most versatile linebackers in the country. During his career, Freeman has performed at all three linebacker positions, having also started on the strong side as a sophomore before establishing himself as the premier weak-side linebacker in the Big Ten Conference during his final two campaigns.

Freeman was rated as one of the top three overall prospects in Ohio as a senior at Wayne High School, earning Parade All-American honors as a senior. The four-year starter was also a two-time All-Ohio first-team selection. As a senior, he recorded 127 tackles, four sacks, three forced fumbles and three fumble recoveries. He also totaled 152 tackles, including 29 behind the line of scrimmage, and eight sacks as a junior. In addition to lettering in football, he competed in the 4x100-meter relay and threw the shot and discus for the school's track team.

Freeman was the top recruit in Ohio State's 2004 class. He appeared mostly on special teams as a true freshman, posting four tackles (one solo). He was scheduled to be the top reserve at outside linebacker in 2005, but in the season opener vs. Miami (Oh.), he suffered a knee injury that would sideline him for the year, earning a medical hardship.

In 2006, Freeman replaced a departed Bobby Carpenter at strong-side outside linebacker, starting eleven of the thirteen games he played in. He finished tied for second on the team with 71 tackles (34 solos), adding one sack and 2.5 stops for loss. He intercepted a pair of passes and deflected six others.

Looking to free up their fastest linebacker, Freeman shifted to the weak-side upon the graduation of Larry Grant. He earned second-team All-Big Ten Conference honors in 2007, also picking up Academic All-Big Ten accolades. He registered a career-high 109 tackles (66 solos), second on a team that led the nation in total defense and scoring defense. His 9.5 stops behind the line of scrimmage and two forced fumbles saw the Buckeyes finish third in rush defense (82.85 ypg).

Freeman was again named Academic All-Big Ten Conference and second-team All-Big Ten as a senior. He placed second on the team with 84 tackles (39 solos) while starting all thirteen games from weak-side linebacker. He broke up four passes and recovered a fumble while also coming up with 3.5 sacks and 9.5 stops for loss.

2008 Best Games: Southern California, Troy, Wisconsin, Purdue, Michigan State, Northwestern, Michigan, Texas

2008 Worst Games: Ohio University, Minnesota, Penn State

2007 Best Games: Akron, Northwestern, Minnesota, Purdue, Michigan State, Penn State, Illinois, Louisiana State

2007 Worst Games: Youngstown State, Washington, Wisconsin

2006 Best Games: Northern Illinois, Penn State, Iowa, Minnesota, Florida

2006 Worst Games: Texas, Indiana, Michigan

Freeman was a two-time All-Academic choice in the Big Ten on top of his football ability.
Gregory Shamus/Getty Images


Body Structure
Freeman lacks great height, but has a compact build with very good overall muscle development. He possesses a thick chest, broad shoulders, tight abdomen, good bubble, tight waist and hips and a developed lower frame with good thigh and calf thickness. He also has room on his frame for additional growth.

Athletic Ability
Freeman lacks the height scouts look for in a strong-side linebacker, but his quickness and lateral range makes him a nice fit for the weak-side position. He has a good flow to the ball and is alert to blocking schemes, doing a nice job of avoiding offensive linemen to make plays in the backfield. He has good speed for the weak-side position, but despite good weight room numbers, his strength does not always translate to the field. He shows quickness coming off the snap and flexibility, balance and body control as he smoothly runs the field … GRADE: 6.6

Football Sense
Freeman is a smart, instinctive player with a good feel for pocket movement and is very alert to blocking schemes. He excels in the classroom, earning conference academic honors and will have no problems dealing with the mental aspect of the game. His ability to play in run containment allowed James Laurinaitis to freelance more than a middle linebacker should, but the coaches were confident that Freeman would cover up for his teammates' regular mistakes. He is a quick reader who shows instincts and the ability to recognize formations and blocking schemes. He stays in control on the move, but must learn how to use his hands effectively to keep blockers off his body. He does well in the classroom (3.35 gpa), and if needed, he is intelligent enough to make the calls and is aware of his teammates' assignments. He is also a versatile athlete with experience at middle and strong-side outside linebacker … GRADE: 7.2

Freeman is a model program performer. Whether as a starter, reserve or on special teams, he always gives total effort. Most veteran starters do not like playing on coverage units, but he relishes that role. He is a good student who has received academic honors and has never been involved in bad off-field activity … GRADE: 6.5

Freeman is the type that the coaches need to hide his helmet to keep him off the field. Despite playing with a recurring ankle issue that would sideline most, he actually performed better hurt in 2008 than he did when healthy in 2007 (stats were down, but his containment skills were much better). He is a try-hard type that might not like the physical contact in the trenches, but he works hard to press the pocket and will compete until the whistle … GRADE: 6.2

Work Habits
Freeman always plays at full speed, whether in games or practices. He is a quiet team leader who always has his motor revving. He is the type of player that you want on your side in a battle. He will play through injuries and does a good job of making sure his teammates are lined up right and know their assignments … GRADE: 6.3

Key and Diagnostic Skills
Freeman has very good vision and plays with solid awareness. He is quick to recognize blocking schemes, doing a nice job of avoiding them while taking the shortest path he can find into the backfield. He has a good feel for pocket movement and when dropping off in coverage, he reads the quarterback well, showing solid ball anticipation skills to compete for the pass at its high point. He might be a bit hesitant at times stepping up when working in-line and this gives the blocker an opportunity of attacking and washing him out of the play, though. His intelligence and instinctive feel will see him consistently handle his responsibilities and he does a nice job of covering up when a teammate blows an assignment. He is an instinctive player with a nose for the ball. He shows good quickness and the ability to react and pursue as soon as he locates the play. He has the vision and ability to get through traffic … GRADE: 6.8

Playing Strength and Explosion
Despite impressive weight room figures, Freeman does not always play up to his strength levels. He has the powerful punch to shock an opponent, but rather than facing up, he relies more on his foot quickness to avoid. He has to become more consistent shooting his hands, as he has had problems shedding when a blocker gets into his frame. He is not really stout at the point of attack and can be driven off the ball by a strong lead blocker. He keeps his shoulders square when facing up in trench battles, but when he fails to keep his hands active, bigger blockers will soon engulf him. He lacks the "sand in his pants" to hold ground on running plays directed right at him and is better served playing on the move rather than waiting for the play to come to him. He is more of a finesse-type of tackler than a physical one and when he encounters a bigger blocker, he does not have the raw power to quickly shed when a lineman gets after him. He has good training room strength, but stacks high and needs to work his hands quicker in order to shed. When he faces up vs. the bigger blockers, he needs to play with better leverage and explosion … GRADE: 5.5

Lateral Pursuit and Range
Freeman has adequate range and good foot speed to maintain relationship vs. plays in front of him, but is not really a great blitzer, as he lacks the explosion or blazing speed to take a wide loop or run long distances to get to the quarterback. His lateral mobility and balance allow him to scrape down the line and he shows good urgency closing on the ball, as his strong angle concept allows him to neutralize the cutback lanes. He has the speed and burst explosion to get to the outside plays and is a solid wrap-up tackler working in space. He has adequate change of direction skills, but when he gets high in his stance, his base gets too narrow, resulting in his crossing his feet a bit and struggling to make the open field tackle. When he takes proper angles, he has the short area speed to stretch the play. He does show good determination moving down the line to close on the ball. He will give total effort to generate the speed needed to run down plays from behind … GRADE: 6.7

Use of Hands
Freeman lacks natural hands to be considered even an adequate pass thief, but seems content using his timing and leaping ability to deflect a good amount of passes targeted into his area. When he gets good position, Freeman is capable of using his hands to control and reroute the tight ends. He uses his hands well to ward off the tight end's block, but when working in-line, he tends to give a shoulder rather than push off the offensive linemen. As a pass thief, he will not produce much, as his hands look too hard to reach and snatch the ball … GRADE: 6.2

Tackling Ability
Freeman is not always a consistent open field tackler, but does show the ability, along with the range and angle concept to close down the outside rushing game. He plays at a low pad level and uses his arms well to wrap and secure. He will get reckless and like his fellow linebacker, "ankle bite" when he tries to recover after being beaten, though. He can be an effective wrap-up tackler when he gets position, but for a player of his power base, you'd hope he would dominate more. You can see that he has the ability to explode through the ball carrier and the power to deliver punishing strikes, but he just seems to revert to making arm tackles, causing him to miss some hits when playing in space … GRADE: 6.2

Run Defense
What you quickly notice watching film on Freeman is his ability to get in front of the ball carrier, break down and drive through with his tackles. He likes to face up with good force and is not an "ankle biter" like his teammate (Laurinaitis). His range was a bit limited last year due to recurring ankle problems, but he has the speed and closing burst to generate a long chase to make the play (see 2008 USC and Wisconsin games). When playing along the line of scrimmage, he shows a good flow to the ball running sideline-to-sideline. When he gets himself into position to make plays, he is able to hold ground at the point of attack. When he gets too high in his stance, he lacks the leg drive and proper hand usage to disengage. He is much better when he uses his forward speed to pursue on the edge. He closes with urgency vs. the outside run and has the lateral agility to string out the sweep, turn the play in and run hard to the ball … GRADE: 6.5

Pass Defense
Freeman does a nice job of mirroring short area receivers and shows the reach-around skills to compete for the ball in a crowd. He just seems a bit tentative to attack the receiver and while he can run stride for stride with his man, he must do a better job of trying to reroute his opponent rather than letting them eat up his cushion in attempts to get behind him. He is quick to sniff out the pass and has good recovery and closing speed. He uses his hands decently to hang with the tight ends and backs in the short area, doing a nice job of turning and mirroring. He also has the agility to turn and drop into coverage, but needs to take the proper angle in order to gain depth … GRADE: 6.0

Zone Defense
Freeman shows nice hip motion getting back in zone coverage. He works well handling the switch-off and shows a good closing burst on plays in front of him. He is smart enough not to bite on play action and reads the quarterback well to time the flight of the ball. He lacks natural hands for the interception, though, and a lot of those opportunities resulted in just pass break-ups rather than a big turnover. He covers the tight ends easily and is athletic enough to drop back in the zone. He has the quick hip snap to turn and run, but needs to improve his hand skills, as he leaves a lot of potential interceptions on the ground. When he locates the ball in flight, he gets a good break on the ball to close … GRADE: 6.1

Pass Rush and Blitz
Freeman is an occasional blitzer, but lacks any sort of pass rush moves, outside of his spin. He gets too caught up in finding the "perfect" gap to attack, that he loses sight of side blockers, where he fails to use his hands well enough to prevent blockers from attacking him low. He has a good closing burst, but needs to have a free lane in order to get to the quarterback, as he is not as effective sifting through traffic on the pass rush as he is when being utilized for run containment. When he has to charge up the gut, he struggles some to avoid blocks … GRADE: 5.5

Freeman started 37-of-51 games at Ohio State, including his last 26 contests at weak-side outside linebacker and eleven other starts on the strong-side…Ranks 19th on the school's all-time record list with 268 tackles (140 solos)…Added six sacks for minus 39 yards and 21.5 stops for losses totaling 76 yards…Assisted on five stops behind the line of scrimmage vs. Michigan in 2008, the most in a game by an Ohio State linebacker since Andy Katzenmoyer posted five tackles for loss vs. Arizona State in 1996…Also caused two fumbles and recovered another…Deflected fifteen passes and intercepted two others for 5 yards in returns…Registered a career-high eighteen tackles vs. Illinois in 2007, the most tackles in a game by a Buckeye since Chris Spielman posted 22 hits vs. Washington in 1986…Part of a graduating class that compiled a 43-8 record, won four-straight Big Ten Conference titles, defeated Michigan four consecutive times, made two trips to the BCS title game and four BCS bowl appearances to its credit over the past four seasons… The most previous wins by an Ohio State senior class was 43, in 1995-98 and 2002-05.

All-Big Ten Conference second-team selection…One of three national finalists for the Fellowship of Christian Athletes' Bobby Bowden Award, which honors one college football player for their achievements on the field, in the classroom and for his conduct as a "faith model" in the community. Nominees must have a 3.0 GPA or better and must also have the backing of his school's athletic director and head football coach. The award is presented each year prior to the Bowl Championship Series' national title game…Lowe's Senior CLASS Award Top 30 honoree…Added Academic All-Big Ten and Academic All-District first-team honors from CoSIDA, attaining a 3.35 grade point average in post-graduate studies…Started all thirteen games at weak-side outside linebacker, but also saw action on the strong-side…Ranked second on the team with 84 tackles (39 solos) that included a career-high 3.5 sacks for minus 24 yards…Added 9.5 stops for losses totaling 45 yards, as he helped the team rank 14th nationally in total defense (293.77 ypg) and sixth in scoring defense (13.92 ppg)…Also deflected four passes and recovered one fumble.

Youngstown State: Freeman recorded six tackles and deflected a pass…Took down Jabari Scott for no gain and on the next play, he stopped Da'Michael for a 5-yard loss on a reverse, as the Buckeyes held YSU to negative 11 yards rushing on 21 attempts and only 74 total yards in the season opener…Defensive Impact-the defense allowed minus 11 yards and no touchdowns on 21 carries (-0.52 ypc) while the opposition generated 74 total yards on 39 plays (1.90 yards per attempt).

Southern California: It was one of those games that a player needs to forget and this was one of them. Freeman made six tackles (3 solos) and broke up a pass in a 35-3 loss, but was directly responsible for two USC touchdowns…Early in the second quarter, he was charged with roughing the passer, leading to a Mark Sanchez-to-Blake Ayles 1-yard scoring pass that gave the Trojans a 14-3 lead…In the second half, he was again flagged for roughing up Sanchez, leading to the passer's 17-yard score that pushed the Trojans to a 35-3 lead…He did sack Sanchez in the fourth quarter, good for an 11-yard loss… Defensive Impact- the defense allowed 164 yards and no touch-downs on 32 carries (5.13 ypc) while the opposition generated 348 total yards on 62 plays (5.61 yards per attempt).

Minnesota: Freeman followed with four tackles (3 solos), including a 5-yard sack of QB Adam Weber on a third-&-5 play, bringing out the Gophers punting unit late in the first quarter, as the Buckeyes held the heralded Minnesota running game to 81 yards on 28 attempts…Defensive Impact- the defense allowed 81 yards and one touchdown on 28 carries (2.89 ypc) while the opposition generated 268 total yards on 64 plays (4.19 yards per attempt).

Wisconsin: The weak-side linebacker made six tackles (5 solos) with a 6-yard sack and two stops behind the line of scrimmage…Freeman leveled tailback David Gilbreath for a 7-yard loss with 3:37 left in the second quarter and midway through the third frame, he sacked QB Allan Everidge for minus 6 yards…Defensive Impact- the defense allowed 179 yards and one touchdown on 39 carries (4.60 ypc) while the opposition generated 326 total yards on 64 plays (5.09 yards per attempt).

Purdue: Freeman posted a season-high nine tackles (7 solos) vs. the Boilermakers, as he also deflected a pass and flipped tailback Kory Sheets to the ground for a 2-yard loss on a late first quarter screen pass…Defensive Impact- the defense allowed 70 yards and no touchdowns on 26 carries (2.69 ypc) while the opposition generated 298 total yards on 77 plays (3.87 yards per attempt).

Michigan State: Freeman followed with five assisted tackles, teaming with middle line-backer James Laurinaitis to sack QB Brian Hoyer for a 4-yard loss late in the first quarter…Defensive Impact-the defense allowed 52 yards and no touchdowns on 21 carries (2.48 ypc) while the opposition generated 240 total yards on 60 plays (4.00 yards per attempt).

Northwestern: The senior weak-side linebacker was in on five tackles and a pair of stops behind the line of scrimmage, including one that stopped Stephen Simmons for a 2-yard loss on a second quarter rushing attempt…Defensive Impact- the defense allowed 117 yards and one touchdown on 43 carries (2.72 ypc) while the opposition generated 294 total yards on 69 plays (4.26 yards per attempt).

Michigan: Freeman spent the bulk of the game in the Wolverines' backfield, as he had five of his seven tackles assisting teammates in stops behind the line of scrimmage…He recovered a fumbled punt return four minutes into the game and ended the first quarter by deflecting a third-&-7 Nick Sheridan pass to bring out the Michigan punting unit…In the second quarter, he took down Carlos Brown for a 2-yard loss on a run over right tackle and assisted in stopping Brandon Minor on a first-&-goal run up the middle for minus one yard. On the next play, a second-&-goal pitch-out, he tackled Minor for a 5-yard loss…He closed out the first half by chasing down Minor for a 1-yard loss on a shotgun handoff…In the third quarter, he clobbered Sheridan on an aborted handoff for a 1-yard loss… Defensive Impact-the defense allowed 111 yards and one touchdown on 41 carries (2.71 ypc) while the opposition generated 198 total yards on 66 plays (3.00 yards per attempt).

Texas (Fiesta Bowl): Freeman's career ended in the Buckeyes' 24-21 heartbreaking loss, as the senior bowed out of college with eight tackles (5 solos)…He assisted in stopping tailback Chris Ogbonnaya for a 1-yard loss on a second-&-goal run, followed by taking down Peter Ullman on a third-&-goal 8-yard reception at the OSU 10, as Texas settled for a 27-yard field goal to salvage some points from their 57-yard, 11-play series…Defensive Impact-the defense allowed 72 yards and one touchdown on 28 carries (2.57 ypc) while the opposition generated 486 total yards on 87 plays (5.59 yards per attempt).

Freeman earned second-team All-Big Ten Conference honors and was the recipient of the team's Randy Gradisher Award, given to OSU's outstanding linebacker…Added Academic All-Big Ten honors…Shifted to weak-side outside linebacker, starting all thirteen games, as he ranked second on the team with a career-high 109 tackles (66 solos)…Made 1.5 sacks for minus 9 yards and 9.5 stops for losses of 23 yards…Deflected five passes and caused two fumbles…Part of a unit that led the nation in scoring defense (12.77 ppg) and total defense (233.0 ypg) while placing third nationally vs. the rush (82.85 ypg)…Named the Buckeyes' Defensive Player of the Week vs. Minnesota and Penn State, adding Special Teams Player of the Week honors vs. Michigan.

Registered six tackles and a stop behind the line of scrimmage vs. Akron…Posted three solo tackles, as he deflected two passes and delivered two stops for loss, including a 6-yard sack vs. Northwestern…Made eleven tackles (7 solos) that included a pair of stops behind the line of scrimmage vs. Minnesota…Was in on seven hits (6 solos), a stop for minus 2 yards and a pass break-up vs. Purdue…Followed with six solo hits and a tackle for loss vs. Kent State…Delivered seven tackles and assisted on a sack vs. Michigan State…Posted fourteen tackles (10 solos) that included two stops for loss and a forced fumble vs. Penn State…Registered a career-high eighteen tackles (10 solos) with two stops behind the line of scrimmage and a deflected pass in a tough 28-21 loss to Illinois… Broke up a pass and produced nine tackles (8 solos) vs. Michigan…Ended the year with fourteen tackles (6 solos) and a forced fumble vs. Louisiana State in the BCS title clash.

Started eleven of thirteen games at strong-side outside linebacker, coming off the bench vs. Bowling Green and Michigan…Finished tied for second on the team with 71 tacklers (34 solos) that included a 6-yard sack and 2.5 stops for losses of 8 yards…Deflected six passes and intercepted two others for 5 yards in returns…Part of a squad that ranked fifth in the nation in scoring defense (12.77 ppg) and twelfth in total defense (280.46 ypg).

Opened the season with nine tackles and a stop for a loss vs. Northern Illinois...Added six assisted hits vs. Penn State and five tackles with a 6-yard sack, as Freeman also gained 5 yards on his first career interception vs. Iowa…Came up with six more stops vs. Bowling Green and had an interception to go with five tackles in the Michigan State clash…Posted six tackles and a stop for a loss vs. Minnesota…Collected a season-high fifteen tackles (9 solos) vs. Florida in the BCS Championship Game.

Went into the season as a possible starter, but injured his knee in the season opener vs. Miami (Oh.) and wound up missing the remainder of the year.

Played in eleven games as a true freshman, recording four tackles (3 assists) that came mostly on special teams.

2008: Hampered during parts of the season with a recurring ankle sprain.

2007: Underwent arthroscopic knee surgery after the season to repair a meniscus tear.

2005: Missed the rest of the season after suffering a knee injury vs. Miami (Oh.) in the season opener (9/03), as he developed staph infection that prevented him from returning to the field.

4.67 in the 40-yard dash…1.56 10-yard dash…2.68 20-yard dash…4.12 20-yard shuttle… 6.98 three-cone drill…37-inch vertical jump…9'5" broad jump…Bench pressed 225 pounds 30 times…30 ¾-inch arm length…9 1/8-inch hands.

4.51 in the 40-yard dash…1.55 10-yard dash…2.59 20-yard dash…4.08 20-yard shuttle… 6.66 three-cone drill.

Attended Wayne (Huber Heights, Oh.) High School, where he was rated as one of the top three overall prospects in Ohio as a senior…Earned Parade All-American honors that season…The four-year starter was also a two-time All-Ohio first-team selection…As a senior, he recorded 127 tackles, four sacks, three forced fumbles and three fumble recoveries…Also totaled 152 tackles, including 29 behind the line of scrimmage, and eight sacks as a junior…In addition to lettering in football, he competed in the 4x100-meter relay and threw the shot and discus for the school's track team.

Graduated in December, 2007 with a degree in Sport & Leisure Studies…Two-time Academic All-Big Ten Conference selection, adding CoSIDA Academic All-District honors in 2008 with a 3.35 grade point average as a graduate student…Son of Chong and Michael Freeman...His mother and father met in Korea when the latter was in the Air Force...Born 1/10/86…Resides in Huber Heights, Ohio.

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Featured on countless radio and television shows since the age of 14, Dave-Te' Thomas is also an accomplished sports writer, talent evaluator and scouting personnel consultant for most of the teams in the NFL.

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