Tag Archive: Chris Marve


Here are some notes from last season’s Vanderbilt-Northwestern game. This post will largely focus on Vanderbilt’s prospects that I took a look at, and Part II will focus on the Northwestern prospects plus a sleeper prospect from a very small conference (hint, he is a wide receiver). Enjoy and look out for Part II later this week after I watch the rest of the film for Northwestern’s prospects!

Casey Hayward, CB, Vanderbilt– Heyward seems to be a very fundamentally sound player. He has a smooth backpedal as far as I can tell, he changes directions fluidly and has good footwork when chopping feet to close on plays in front of him. He locates the ball well in the air and has good ball skills. He has good speed and fluid hips to turn and run with receivers and he has good size to match up with receivers on the outside. He also closes well on plays in front of him and seems to have a good burst. He is a good tackler when he wants to be, but he does not support the run aggressively and overwhelmingly prefers to avoid blocks rather than attack and shed them. He does not set the edge very well but he is a reliable last line of defense and actually flashes some pop as a hitter. I am hoping to see more aggressiveness in run support as a senior, but overall he is a good cover corner who is fundamentally sound even if he isn’t flashy. He is going to move up boards if he has another good year this year I can tell you that much.

Chris Marve, ILB, Vanderbilt- I’m a big fan of Marve but he doesn’t shed blocks well and doesn’t have elite athleticism either. However, he is a very good tackler, has impressive instincts and flows to the ball very well. He also demonstrates some ability in coverage. He is always near the ball and shows demonstrates good instincts. He has an impressive feel for the game that makes up for his lack of elite athleticism. He flashes some pop as a hitter but is a very fundamentally sound tackler who rarely arm tackles based on the film that I watched of him. He isn’t great in coverage because of his lack of ideal straight line speed, but he gets reasonably good depth in his drops and looks comfortable in space. He also shows some burst to close as a blitzer and seems to time his rushes well, and clearly understands his assignments when blitzing (whether to make sure to contain the QB or go for the sack, etc.). He is also assignment conscious as a run and pass defender. I’m not sure what kind of intangibles he possesses, but being such a reliable starter at a young age indicates some level of intangibles. Whether he is a team leader or captain or not I am not sure. I would be a bit surprised if he wasn’t a captain this upcoming season. Plus he will only be a junior in 2011 so he definitely has upside. He will be a NFL linebacker, I guarantee it.

Eddie Foster, CB, Vanderbilt- Foster is only going to be a junior in 2011 so he definitely has some upside. I want to see him improve his tackling and his transitions (chopping his feet when he makes a break on the ball or flipping his hips to turn and run with a receiver) could use a bit of work. He’s only 5’10”, 175 pounds so he is pretty small, but depending on his speed he could definitely be a NFL corner. He is relatively unknown at this point and was targeted relatively frequently because he is playing opposite Casey Hayward. He demonstrated some intriguing ball skills and is more aggressive in run defense than Hayward is despite his lack of ideal size. He also works harder to attack and shed blocks which I like to see. He looks pretty fast to me which is critical to his potential as a NFL corner because at his size (listed at 5’10”, potentially 5’9”) he will need to have athleticism on his side to make it to the next level. I look forward to seeing how he progresses next season as a junior.

Sean Richardson, Safety, Vanderbilt- Richardson will be a junior safety in 2011 but he is not on the same level as guys like Casey Hayward or Eddie Foster, fellow teammates in Vandy’s secondary. Richardson is a good tackler and he supports the run well, showing good closing speed and recognition in this part of the game. However, he is a huge liability in coverage, either man or zone, and gave up two touchdowns on his own (one in zone, one in man) against Northwestern. He just doesn’t have the same instincts or ability in coverage that he does versus the run. Because he is such a liability his NFL ceiling is a back-up and special teams player, I can’t really fathom him being a starter given his issues in coverage.

Brandon Barden, TE, Vanderbilt- I think Barden is a huge sleeper this year because he was a popular target for anyone playing quarterback at Vanderbilt last year and clearly has upside as a receiver thanks to his good combination of size, athletic ability and impressive hands. I had no idea who he was until I watched Vanderbilt play and saw him make some tough catches, and I think he will really rise over the course of his senior year in 2011. I can’t wait to see if he starts to move up draft boards this season.

Thanks for reading my notes on Vanderbilt’s prospects! Northwestern’s prospects will soon follow along with my surprise small school prospect to watch out for! Keep an eye out!

–Tom

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1- Luke Kuechly, ILB, Boston College
Analysis: Kuechly emerged out of Mark Herzlich’s heroic shadow this year thanks to an extremely impressive season statistically. Standing at 6’3″, 235 pounds Kuechly produced an astonishing 183 total tackles (11o solo), 10.5 TFL, 1.5 sacks, 3 INT’s, 2 FF’s and 3 pass deflections. He was hugely productive and he deserves this ranking as the top linebacker in the country despite only being a junior this season. The fact that he had 183 total tackles and 110 solo tackles as a sophomore is mind-blowing, especially considering that his 110 solo tackles would have tied him for 48th place in the country if every other players assisted tackles were included in their total. He also produced 158 tackles the year before as a freshman, demonstrating remarkable consistency from the start that makes me believe he will probably leave after his junior season. It also leads me to believe that if Kuechly stays healthy for his junior season it’s a safe bet he will end up with 150 tackles for a third year in a row.
2- Manti Te’o, ILB, Notre Dame
Analysis: Te’o has impressed me every single time I have watched Notre Dame and he has impressed me so much that it has led me to ranking him as the #2 ILB in the entire country. A lot of people may be surprised that Burfict or Hightower aren’t in this spot, but I think Te’o is a more cerebral player than any of those guys and that, combined with his 6’2″, 245 pound frame, 4.59 listed 40 yard dash time and 129 total tackles (64 solo), 8.5 TFL, 1.0 sacks, 1 FF and 3 pass deflections makes him quite the linebacker prospect. I can’t wait to watch more of him this year to see if he lives up to the hype I am giving him before the season starts.
3- Vontaze Burfict, ILB, Arizona State
Analysis: Vontaze Burfict is an absolute beast at 6’3, 245 pounds and plays an extremely physical style of football. He produced 90 total tackles this year (54 solo), 8.5 TFL, 2 FF’s and 3 pass break-ups. I’m not sure he has the mental capacity to be a great player at this point, so while he is a great athletic specimen I don’t know that he will ever be a true student of the game. He has more than enough athletic ability to warrant 1st round consideration though.
4- Jerry Franklin, ILB, Arkansas
Analysis: Franklin has always impressed me when I have watched Arkansas and he has a pretty nice combination of size and athletic ability at 6’1″, 245 pounds with a listed 4.66 40 yard dash time. He produced 95 total tackles (58 solo), 13.0 TFL, 6.5 sacks, 1 FF and 2 pass break-ups last season as a junior. He is one of the best linebackers in the SEC which says a lot considering the great tradition of producing defensive players the SEC has. I am very excited to see how he looks as a senior this season.
5- Dont’a Hightower, ILB, Alabama
Analysis: Dont’a Hightower first and foremost is a pretty impressive athlete. He is 6’4″, 260 pounds and he has great speed and strength to go with his impressive size. He is a very versatile player than can line up at middle linebacker on one play and then put his hand down and rush the passer in nickel packages the next. I don’t think he is very good in pass coverage, but he does support the run quite well. This season he managed 69 total tackles (30 solo), 3.5 TFL and 3 pass break-ups. I tend to think he is a bit overrated because of his lack of production both as an overall linebacker but especially as a pass rusher because he frequently rushes the passer as a blitzer or when he puts his hand in the dirt. He does get some hits on quarterbacks, but while he is an impressive athlete I just don’t know if he is cerebral enough to maximize his ability. We will have to see how he develops as a junior.
6- James-Michael Johnson, ILB, Nevada
Analysis: I will admit that I don’t know a whole lot about James-Michael Johnson and I haven’t seen him play much, but I do know that he has pretty good size at 6’2″, 240 pounds and a listed 4.68 40 yard dash time. Plus, he produced 88 total tackles (51 solo), 8.0 TFL, 2.5 sacks, 3 FF’s, 1 FR and 2 pass break-ups. I didn’t see him much last year when I was watching Dontay Moch or Colin Kaepernick, so I am looking forward to evaluating him for the first time this season.
7- Korey Williams, ILB, Southern Mississippi
Analysis: Williams is a guy I have not seen play yet but he has pretty impressive size for a linebacker at 6’2″, 243 pounds and has a listed 40 yard dash time of 4.65 seconds. As a junior last year he produced 92 total tackles (52 solo), 14.5 TFL, 3.0 sacks, 1 INT and 1 FF. I am looking forward to seeing him play this upcoming season.
8- Chris Marve, ILB, Vanderbilt
Analysis:
Marve is one of the best prospects Vanderbilt has had in recent years from what I can remember. Marve doesn’t have elite size, but at 6’0″, 230 pounds he has enough size for the inside linebacker spot. Last season as a sophomore Marve managed to produce 80 total tackles (45 solo), 8.0 TFL, 2.5 sacks and 2 pass break-ups. I am excited to watch Vanderbilt this year because I haven’t had much reason to watch them in recent years.
9- Kevin Reddick, ILB, North Carolina
Analysis: Reddick is another talented player on North Carolina’s defense, and it seems that UNC has a chance to replicate the dominant defense they were supposed to have this past season prior to the suspensions doled out by the NCAA. Reddick has good size at 6’3″, 240 pounds and a listed 4.67 40 yard dash time. As a sophomore last season Reddick produced 74 total tackles (48 solo), 6.0 TFL, 1.0 sack, 2 INT’s (1 TD), and 5 pass deflections. I am really looking forward to seeing what he can do with an entire season starting inside at middle linebacker.
10- Shayne Skov, ILB, Stanford
Analysis: Skov may only be a junior but I think he could be one of the better linebackers in the country. He has impressive size at 6’3″, 243 pounds and a listed 4.65 40 yard dash time, plus he produced 83 total tackles (50 solo), 10.0 TFL, 7.0 sacks, 2 FF’s and 5 pass deflections. I am very much looking forward to seeing him play at Stanford this year as all eyes will be on Andrew Luck, but I’m sure Skov will draw some attention to himself with quality play.

Thanks for reading my pre-season inside linebacker rankings! Just two more rankings posts left before I get to some film break-down. The end is in sight! I’m excited to get a lot of film study underway, so hopefully either tomorrow night or Monday at some point I will be able to polish those last two rankings lists off. Thanks again!

–Tom