Meet O'Brien Schofield

Arguably the most daring pick in the draft for the Arizona Cardinals came when they selected O'Brien Schofield in Round 4. Schofield displayed tremendous ability in college but an ACL injury during Senior Bowl week severely hurt his draft status. Nonetheless, the Cardinals were willing to invest a fourth-round pick on the former All-Big 10 performer due to his uncanny ability to rush the passer.

O'Brien Schofield will have plenty to prove during his time in the NFL. However, Schofield will have to wait to prove his worth as he rehabs from an ACL injury suffered during Senior Bowl week. Prior to the injury, Schofield could have been selected as high as Round 2. Given the circumstances, Arizona may have reached slightly by selecting Schofield in the fourth round but there's no question he was worth the gamble based on talent alone.

After playing sparingly during his freshman and sophomore campaigns at Wisconsin, Schofield burst onto the scene in his final two collegiate seasons. In 2008, Schofield tallied 40 tackles, 8.5 tackles for a loss and five sacks but his true breakout season was still to come. During his senior season with the Badgers, Schofield racked up 62 tackles, 12 sacks and an astounding 24.5 tackles for a loss. His outstanding season earned him first-team All-Big 10 status and honorable mention All-American honors.


O'Brien Schofield
(Getty)

In addition to his production on the field, Schofield's appeal to the Cardinals continued to grow due to his potential in the 3-4 defense. Schofield will line up at outside linebacker in Arizona's aggressive scheme and health permitting has the potential to wreak havoc on opposing quarterbacks. As Schofield develops into a full-time starter at outside linebacker, he has a chance to contribute immediately as a pass-rushing specialist once he's fully recovered from injury.

Schofield possesses adequate size and strength but his burst of speed off the edge is what sets him apart. Schofield's repertoire of pass-rushing moves should increase with proper coaching as should his ability to defend in space. Schofield's strong presence at the point of attack allows him to shed opposing blockers as well as contribute in run defense. Those two areas of Schofield's game give him the potential to eventually become an every-down player at the NFL level.

Along with recovering from injury, Schofield will need to adjust to playing outside linebacker. He primarily lined up in a three-point stance at defensive end in college but will be expected to stand up regularly in the professional ranks. Schofield's transition could take a year or two but his versatility will be utilized effectively by defensive coordinator Bill Davis. Look for Davis to eventually use Schofield in a variety of ways in several different blitz packages.

Only time will tell how Schofield pans out but given the depth Arizona had acquired on the defensive side of the ball, they had room to gamble. Additionally, second-year LB Cody Brown returns from a season-long injury a year ago and will help pick up the slack in the pass-rushing department. Schofield's learning curve should be accelerated playing behind veterans such as Joey Porter and Clark Haggans and he could turn into one of the steals of this year's draft.


Questions or comments? Contact Brad Wilbricht at brad.wilbricht@gmail.com
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