Scout's Notebook: LB Derrick Pope

Free agent signee Derrick Pope should bring quality depth at all three linebacker spots and on special teams. Here's the full scouting report...

#55, Derrick Pope, LB
(5111, 233, 4.58-4.71) Alabama

Notes:  Born Derrick Trayon Pope, 5/4/82, to Stephanie Pope, a single mother, who gave birth to Derrick at the age of fourteen.  Has one sister, Shakari, and one brother, Ro’Shawn.  Attended Ball High School in Galveston, Tex., where he played football for coach Paul Lanier.  Offensive MVP and first-team all-district running back.  Was a high school teammate of Steelers defensive tackle Casey Hampton.  He also played basketball and ran track.  Has done work with the Boys and Girls Clubs.

College:  Heavily recruited out of high school, he attended Garden City (Kan.) Community College (2000-01), where he originally joined the team as a running back.  One of eight running backs on the Garden City roster after a low score on college entrance exams left him unable to accept one of the scholarship offers, and he was moved to defense.  Pope earned second-team JC All-America honors and was a first-team All-Jayhawk Conference choice as he led the team with 127 tackles and seven sacks in 2000.  All-American first-team and Region VI Defensive Most Valuable Player as a middle linebacker, including All-Jayhawk Conference first-team accolades as he recorded 125 tackles with 9 sacks, 16 stops behind the line of scrimmage and returned 2 fumble recoveries for touchdowns in 2001.  Had a season-high 21 tackles in Garden City’s bowl game.  In two junior college seasons, he started 13 of 25 games, recording 170 tackles (92 solos) with 6 sacks (for minus 48 yards), 15 tackles-for-loss, 8 quarterback pressures, 2 forced fumbles, a fumble recovery, a pair of interceptions and 6 pass deflections.

His uncle, Kenith Pope (most recently assistant head coach/receivers at Texas A&M), recruited Derrick for Alabama.  He earned the Lee Roy Jordan Headhunter Award, played in every game, finished fifth on the team with 65 tackles (37 solos), including a 13-yard sack, 6 tackles-for-loss, 3 sacks, one interception, 2 forced fumbles and one fumble recovery in 2002.  All-Southeastern Conference first-team selection by the Associated Press; started 10 games at strongside linebacker, finishing third on the team with 105 tackles (55 solos), including 5 sacks, 9 tackles-for-loss, 5 quarterback pressures, 6 pass breakups and one interception in 2003.

Pre-draft workout numbers included 24 reps at 225 pounds, 1.66 10-yard dash, 2.75 20-yard dash, 4.58-4.71 40-yard dash, 11.00 60-yard shuttle, 7.14 three-cone drill, 34-inch vertical jump, 8’-10” broad jump.

Derrick PopePro:  Originally drafted by current Vikings vice president of player personnel Rick Spielman in the seventh round (No. 222 overall) of the 2004 NFL Draft by the Miami Dolphins.  He was selected with a pick obtained from the Baltimore Ravens in a draft trade-down.  As a rookie (2004), he played in all 16 games, including 3 starts, and posted 44 tackles, 2 sacks, a forced fumble and a fumble recovery which he returned for a touchdown.  In 2005, Pope played in 12 games, including 2 starts, while being inactive for 4 contests.  He posted 23 tackles and a forced fumble on defense and 7 tackles on special teams.  He saw action in 11 games in 2006, finishing with 12 tackles.  Last season (2007), he started 9 of 16 games played as he replaced an injured Zach Thomas at middle linebacker.  He finished the year with 64 tackles, 3 pass deflections and 2 interceptions.  Pope signed a one-year contract with the Vikings as an unrestricted free agent on March 14, 2008.

Positives:  Good athlete who’s compact but well built with a strong, muscular physique.  Good speed and agility to drop into pass coverage.  Moves well and has sideline-to-sideline range.  Instinctive; quick to read, react and flow to the ball.  Likes contact.  Reliable, wrap-up tackler.  Active and productive with a real nose for the ball.  Shows feel on pass defense and plays the ball well.  Shows some ability as a blitzer.  Very effective on special teams.  Plays hard.

Negatives:  Lacks top natural size and will get bounced around by bigger blockers.  Needs to play off the ball to be effective.  Struggles when he has to take on and shed blocks.  Will overpursue at times.

Summary:  Essentially replaces Dontarrious Thomas as the primary backup at all three linebackers spots and on special teams.  Is not as big, strong, fast or athletic as Thomas, but is probably more instinctive and more effective on special teams.  A good fit for the team’s scheme.

What they said:

“Pope is a solid backup, can play all three LB positions and specials.” – Adam Caplan, Scout.com

Other links:  NFL.com


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Scout’s Notebook: FB Thomas Tapeh
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Scout’s Notebook:  TE Garrett Mills


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