Marino's Top Defender In The College Ranks

Tom Marino has seen a lot of top defensive players during the 2008 college season. but who does he see as the best of the best? Many fans will be hearing the name of his pick for the very first time today, but our resident scout of thirty-four NFL seasons assures readers that, in a very short while, this player may be one of the most recognizable and feared names in pro football.

I almost jumped out of my chair after viewing Boston College' "sam" linebacker Mark Herzlich play earlier in the season. He appeared to make virtually every tackle on the football field! He made an inordinate number of plays up the field and was also particularly adept in pass coverage. When viewing a would be prospect, I'm sort of a nit-picker, but after my third exposure of viewing this individual, I noticed that I didn't have a single negative comment on my work sheet for this player.

I'd really like to see him return for his senior season, but realistically Herzlich is more than ready to enter the professional ranks. Let's take a look at our advanced scouting report on Marino' pick to click.

No: 94 Name: Sandon "Mark" Herzlich Grade: 1.14

College: Boston College Pos: SOLB

Exposure: VPI / VPI (2) / Maryland / Wake Forest / Clemson / Florida St Rhode Island

Physical Make Up: Well conditioned / Tall tight skinned individual / Muscular with adequate peaks (not near full potential) / Arms appear long and has a v-shaped torso. A medium strider with sudden qualities. Moves laterally well with impressive feet and balance.

Strong Points: Size stature (can add significant weight to his frame) / Competitiveness / Highly intelligent (learns and assimilates quickly) / Instinctive and overall football awareness / Key and diagnose skills / Runs extremely well with A-1 playing range / Use of hands / Control (meet pressure) and get off blocks / Doesn't linger on blocks / Can blow up lead and iso and maintain leverage on the ball / Special teams potential and background / Physical tackler who wraps up effectively (can deliver the knockout punch) / Zone pass drops were more than efficient / Excellent awareness and route recognition / Good reactions and hands / Can cover the tight end and match up with the back on the flat and down the field / Playing production and consistency / Change of direction (can stick his foot in the ground and go) Excellent secondary pursuit (doesn't give up on plays or coast) Took good angles and once he saw it showed closing speed / Natural playing strength and leverage (very explosive on contact) / Blitz speed and timing.

Weak Points: Needs to add additional upper body strength (does have broad shoulders and long arms).

Potential: Herzlich was a truly outstanding football player. I loved his game to game consistency and the way he performed with the game in the balance. He's big, athletic, runs like a scalded dog, yet appeared to play totally under control. A disruptive force on the football field.

He can play effectively up on the line of scrimmage and was also very effective playing in space. Can and has played all three linebacker position. I really liked him in both man and zone coverage (matches up well and excellent size makes it difficult to throw over).

With no live exposure (game or practice) or much in the way of background information, there are at this early stage, some unknown about this particular player, but I have heard (second hand) only good things about this highly talented football player.

I would be surprised if this player were not to test off the charts and his awareness and instincts are exactly what you are looking for at the linebacker position (has all the tools). I see a lot of Brian Urlacher in this player and see no reason why he would not start and impact from the go in his rookie season. A top ten first round selection.

For the readers who are following the exclusive series on "So You Want to Be a Professional Football Scout," this report that you have just read is very typical of what is expected from members of a particular team's scouting staff.

In actuality, if I were to have visited the Boston College campus, I would have been able to obtain additional first hand information regarding the players character, work habits, strength numbers and in some cases his medical history. I would also have been able to typically view coaches tape, look at him physically and do some research regarding his early special teams background.

For the would be football players who may be reading this column, the ability to long and short snap, only adds to your value as a football player.

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