NFL DRAFT DIAMONDS

Dan’s Diamonds: Greg Blair, ILB Cincinnati

from: cincinnati.com

 

Name: Greg Blair
School: Cincinnati
No.: 51
Ht.: 6’2’’          Wt.: 252
Pos: ILB
Year: Senior

Game Notes:

VS. Duke (2012 Belk Bowl)

Sticks with play after forcing RB to cut to other side of the field. Pushes blocker to get off, good body control to maintain leverage after push off, but lost ground during push. Doesn’t meet ball carrier in the hole, rather sets up in good position to engage ball carrier and make a good tackle. Keys guard on goal line, which leaves him out of position on PA bootleg. He is very good at filling running lanes. He takes very good pursuit lines, but his speed limits his range. He was half a step late after reading the option, and just misses a great tackle. He did not blitz when his key, a running back, pass blocks, while this activity is very coachable, he was essentially on the bench during this play. Luckily for Cincinnati, the TD was dropped by the Duke receiver. Quick through A-gap on a called blitz, closed hole, but did not finish the splash play. While he demonstrates average closing speed, he has fantastic reaction time when diagnosing plays. He meets the ball carrier in the hole with a big hit for a minimal gain. He follows the QB’s eyes very well in coverage. Spins off the defender to get in hole. He gets out leveraged by OL on a run blitz, but jumps to re-anchor and disengage. Although this is wasted movement, he is still able to remain in the play. Above all, he is a fearless tackler, including several diving attempts. He demonstrates good short area quickness, but lacks intensity on pass rushing duties.

 

Analysis of Highlight Reel (2012)

Vs. Virginia Tech

Q2/8:03/3-10 — Completely deflects two cutting lineman (when they should have driven him). He stops the ball carrier’s forward progress. Not an explosive play, but definitely a good stop to bring up 4th down.

Q3/14:15/2-6 – Reads play quick and takes appropriate pursuit angle, adjusting for blocker. First person to react to reverse. Good pursuit to ball carrier and makes a shoestring tackle.

Q3/13:42/1-10 – Flows w/ option decently, does not put a good hit on Thomas.

Q3/1:14/2-5 – Quick read on running back. Takes good pursuit line. Changes direction well to make solid tackle for a 1-yard gain.

 

Vs. Duke

Q1/6:59/1-15 – Keys running back well. Does not commit to run initially. Hops around til the last second, but slams the ball carrier when he comes into his lane.

Q1/0:39/3-2 – Occupies two blockers on run. Not explosive on disengage.

Q2/15:00/1-10 – Middle zone, takes poor angle on break and gives the receiver the middle area, but makes a shoestring tackle.

Q2/12:01/3-7 – 3-Deep mid zone. Bail out tech to get to zone. Takes good line to ball carrier, puts a hand on the ball to force fumble at the goal line, which he recovers.

Q3/7:16/2-2 – Perfect key on back, and shoots through the gap to wrap him up.

Q4/13:30/1-Goal — Follows ball well, patiently waits for QB to make move, approaches fast to meet QB at LOS.

 

Vs. Pitt

Q1/14:28/2-9 – Watches for run, drops into zone mirrors QB exactly and nearly intercepts the pass with after his break on the ball.

Q2/5:54/3-G – Man coverage on TE. Bail out tech. Bad throw by QB, intercepted by Blair in endzone. Blair’s eyes never leave the ball. One handed catch.

Q2/2:51/1-10 – Reads run quick, takes great pursuit line and a great intercepting angle to meet ball carrier. Makes an ankle tackle.

 

Vs. Louisville

Q1/11:24/1-10 – Keys running back, bounces out initially anticipating a route, but goes into a full pass rush after he reads pass block by the back. He nearly misses Bridgewater entirely, but slows him enough to get tackled for a loss by his teammates.

Q2/11:34/2-10 – Called blitz, C-gap. The offensive tackle bites on the DE stunt, leaving Blair untouched in his pursuit and nearly misses Bridgewater again.

 

Vs Connecticut

Q3/4:17/1-10 – Comes off the edge, trails play and is in perfect position to tackle passing wideout on the trick play. Result was mostly off of a good play call.

 

Vs. Miami (OH)

Q3/0:14/3-5 – Empty backfield. zone middle. Reads QB well. Initially steps up to anticipate the run. Reads #8 in his zone by keeping his head on a swivel. He impedes #8’s progress and Blair intercepts the pass.

 

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IG-oOIJD-_E?wmode=transparent]

 

Highlights:

The Pittsburgh native racked up 138 tackles (68 solo), 9.0 TFL’s with 2.5 of those for QB sacks, 6 passes defensed, with 2 being interceptions, and 2 forced fumbles as a first year full time starter in 2012. Blair’s best statistical game last year was at the Teddy Bridgewater led Louisville Cardinals, where he racked up 19 tackles, with 9 being solo and 1.5 sacks in a 31-34 loss. Blair is also on the 2013 preseason watch list for the Butkus Award.

 

Verdict:

Greg Blair has the potential to be a very solid inside linebacker at the NFL level. Blair demonstrates above average ability in coverage and is a very intuitive run defender. His biggest strength comes in his ability to quickly and accurately read his keys and in his quick analysis and reaction to plays. This demonstrates Blair’s high football IQ and coachability, which is a necessity for success at the next level. Blair could greatly elevate his game play by becoming a better finisher on plays and improving his speed. On several occasions, he barely made a tackle, or just missed a tackle, even though he was typically the first player reacting.

 

Blair definitely looked sluggish on the field last year because of his weight, which noticeably limited his agility. ESPN.com’s Andrea Adelson reported1 on his weight struggle last year, playing at times at 265lbs. In the article, Blair stated: “If I made plays like that last year at the weight I was at, imagine how many more plays I could have made at 12 pounds lighter.” Blair is listed on the Cincinnati Bearcats athletics page as weighing 252 lbs. but, according to Adelson, hopes to get to 240.

 

If Blair reaches his weight goal and demonstrates improved field speed, I fully expect him to be in the talks to win the Butkus Award at the end of 2013 and to be a top ILB in the draft. As for now, I have Blair slated as a solid 5th round inside linebacker prospect with a very high ceiling, and I fully anticipate for Blair to breakout even more in the 2013 campaign for the Bearcats.

 

Games to Watch:
  • 10/19/13 vs. Connecticut
  • 11/16/13 @ Rutgers
  • 12/5/13 vs. Louisville

1 Adelson, Andrea. (2013, Mar 9). Cincinnati LB Greg Blair slims down. ESPN.com. retrieved from: http://espn.go.com/blog/bigeast/post/_/id/42738/cincinnati-lb-greg-blair-slims-down
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