Scouting the ACC: Virginia

Since taking the helm in Charlottesville three years ago, Al Groh has put together some of the best recruiting classes in the nation. These young prospects are developing into fine football players and Virginia is on the verge of having a major impact in the NFL draft.

The Cavaliers offer both quality and quantity on the offensive line.  Elton Brown is a big, physical guard that destroys opponents at the point of attack.  A wide bodied blocker, Brown easily engulfs defenders, controlling them once engaged but is more than just a mauler as he is also a solid position blocker who seals defenders from the action.  Lacking to the top foot quickness and ability to block on the move, he is a perfect fit for a power running offense or zone blocking scheme at the next level.  Junior left tackle D'Brickashaw Ferguson is an athletic lineman with with excellent upside for the next level.  Playing with leverage, Ferguson does an outstanding job using blocking angles, adjusting to oncoming opponents then quickly getting his hands up to move defenders from their angle of attack.  Though he stands out in pass protection,  Ferguson has good size and growth potential that when met, will improve his run blocking skills.  Another junior tackle, Brad Butler, is a right side blocker that is both quick and strong at the point of attack.  A little larger than his teammate Feguson, Butler also has excellent upside for the next level.  Center Zac Yarbrough plays with great explosion and adequate strength but is a small area blocker and limited athlete. Junior tight end Heath Miller is yet another prospect from this side of the ball and a terrific athlete with the great NFL future.  A competitive blocker, Miller is strong at the point of attack and as a solid job opening holes for the running game.  Also a good pass catcher, he displays the ability to make receptions in the defensive secondary.  Running back Wali Lundy is a nice sized ball carrier effective on the interior.    Yet another junior, he is best in a straight-line but has a good combination of speed and strength.  Receiver Michael McGrew returns after missing last season with a broken leg and is a reliable in pass catcher with late round talents.

On defense UVA has tremendous talent in the front seven.  End Chris Canty is quite possibly one of the better left side players to come around in a long while as well as the top two-gap lineman in next year's draft. Canty plays with great leverage, strength and is outstanding defending the run with the ability to pursue the action from the backside.  Consistently making positive plays, there is room for improvement with his pass rushing skills but Canty should be a top 25 pick next April.  Junior linebacker Darryl Blackstock is another terrific athlete and a defender who excels in pursuit.  Blackstock plays with excellent speed, displays good range and is effective in pass coverage.  Leading Virginia in sacks last season, he is a competitive player that does a great job defending the run on the outside and will be a top pick whenever he enters the draft.  On the inside Ahmad Brooks is an excellent run defending linebacker that quickly reads the action and makes his way to the ball carrier.  Brooks is a top competitor who flies around the football then wraps up tackling.  Though he needs to improve his skills in pass coverage, Brooks is another underclassman highly thought of  in NFL scouting circles.  Finally Kai Parham is the third linebacker from the non-senior ranks who is on the radar screen of NFL teams.

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