JJ Former NFL Scout Takes the Blind Tape Test | Linebackers (Part 1)

Image of Jonathan Willis from the Tulsa World (Photographer: Brett Rojo), Image of Jonathan Thomas from twitter.com/jonny_suave1

In our first Blind Tape Test we asked former OU and NFL RB Mossis Madu to look at Michael Warren, Joe Mixon and Nathan Starks. Here were the results: http://thefootballbrainiacs.com/?p=1773

In our last Blind Tape Test we asked Chris Trulove, former NFL scout and coordinator of pro scouting for the Denver Broncos to take a look at interior offensive linemen Demetrius Knox, Jonathan Alvarez, Alex Dalton and Jordan Sims. Here were the results: http://thefootballbrainiacs.com/?p=2008

The Blind Tape Test (like the blind taste test that was popular in the 80s with Coke and Pepsi) is where we give a former player or scout film to watch on certain high school recruits that Oklahoma may be interested in and we ask them to give us an evaluation of those players. We do not give the evaluator any information about the players in terms of their offers or recruiting background or anything of the sort. In fact we don’t even tell them what state they are from or what school they play for. They know little more than the size of the player. It’s all about the tape and what they see. We don’t offer our thoughts on the player prior to them viewing the tape. Our goal with these are to continue giving our readers the opinion of football guys on football players.

In our third edition of the Blind Tape test we asked Chris Trulove, former NFL scout and coordinator of pro scouting for the Denver Broncos to take a look at the following linebackers:  OU offer Jonathan Thomas, OU commit Curtin Bolton and Oregon State commit and Tulsa Washington LB, Jonathan Willis. We’ll save the Curtis Bolton results for tomorrow. He received the highest grade Trulove has given so far so we felt it deserved it’s own post. For now, here were the results of Chris Trulove’s evaluations on Thomas and Willis:

Jonathan Thomas – Good looking athlete with nice length and agility. He is an excitable player but his bark is a little bigger than his bite. He has played a lot of stand up LB and makes a lot of plays in space. He has good play recognition and good speed to the ball but he often gets in a trail position forcing him to drag tackle. He is rangy and covers a lot of ground but will need to improve his angles and face up tackling. He can stack & shed blocks but needs to improve his leverage at the point of attack to be an effective edge setter vs the run. Has a good swim move and good speed on the edge as a pass rusher but is not always explosive to the QB. Because he is a very good athlete, he will have the versatility to play more than one LB spot but like most kids making the jump to a power conference, he will need time to refine his angles, techniques, and down in and down out execution. GRADE: 3.3

Jonathan WillisLean, active, and relentless player.  Instinctive pass rusher with eyes for the ball.  Some guys get caught up trying to beat a blocker and lose leverage and ground to the ball carrier.  Not this guy.  He spends little time worrying about the block and instinctively gets off and to the ball.  Often plays in a four point stance on the LOS, and has great takeoff out of it. Gains a lot of ground with long strides and has good speed and great pursuit effort.  Very slippery and not afraid to give up his body to make the play. Plays with abandon.   Has a good long frame with room to add bulk.  Flashed good leverage to stand up blockers and shed.  Good wrap up tackler that is aggressive.  Has played more with his hand down than from a stacked position but has shown an ability to drop, read, and react.  More of a straight line athlete than explosive lateral player so he will need to play in a scheme allowing him to rush outside.  May need a little time to develop his true LB play in space but until then can be a situational sub package pass rusher. GRADE: 3.5

We will have Curtis Bolton’s results up in the next day or two.

  • http://www.TheFootballBrainiacs.com/ JY

    J Will doin work.

  • Super K

    J Will should have an OU offer. He’ll be good. Coach Danzler is right…Oklahoma people are going to wonder how he got out of the state.

    • hOUligan

      you’ve been on Willis for months now. Gotta trust the coaches know what they’re doing but just know we will be hearing that down the road, ‘how did he get away from OU?’ Just hope it’s because there weren’t enough open schollies and OU gets one better.

      • Super K

        They’re uncertain if J Will has the size they need. It’s a fair concern but J Will is a long kid. He measured 6’2 without shoes on at Oregon St. He’s just a baby right now…plenty of room to add weight. He’ll come in to the summer at 210 lbs. He’s a good kid and will work hard throughout a RS season and easily be 220-230 by the time they need him to play. He has a bigger frame that most of the LBs OU currently has. And he even though he’s lean right now he’s very strong.

  • Sonny Schovanec

    why all the blind tape test FB;s? Just look at their stars from the guru sites.

    • Super K

      Agree. I love these. Wish Chris could do them every day!

  • bmrsnr

    Is chris using the same grade scale you guys use? Whats the diffrence between a 3.3 and 3.5? Also are you going to use a a highley rated player as a control in like you did with Knox?

    • Super K

      Yes same scale. The decimals indicate confidence within the particular category. So if the player in the 3.4-3.9 All-conference ability range. Then a 3.4 would indicate less confidence in the evaluators opinion than a 3.5 for example. Our scale listed in the “about” section is the same scale all guest evaluators are given. And we further explain the scale to them before they evaluate.

  • Indy_sooner

    Great breakdown guys. When you are running these comparisons, how do you account for the discrepancy in the competition? Since this is a blind test, is the assessment is being made assuming the competition is level or do you add some sort of weighting?
    Not an expert in high school ball so feel free to correct my assumption

    • Super K

      The evaluator will note it – for example Mossis noted the competition level that Joe Mixon was playing against was really low without us telling him.

  • ozsooner

    Will there be a QB blind tape test? These are really awesome.

    • Super K

      Yeah. We’ve got a former QB doing those. It should be cool.

  • Jared Tyra

    Another great evaluation from Chris; these are some of the more interesting posts out there pertaining to OU football and I’m already anxious for more! By the way, I wonder how a guy like Bo Scarbrough would stack up with the above players?

    • Super K

      Indeed. I love these. One thing to note on J Will and J Thomas – J Thomas has only been playing football for about 2-3 years. And J Will had never played DE and they made him an undersized DE last year and he played a with torn ligaments in his hand. He led Oklahoma 6a in sacks. Then this year he was played DE again in a 40 front and then early in the season Coach Danzler flipped the scheme to a 3-4 so they stood him up. When J Will gets in an S&C program and gets coaching in a uniform and consistent scheme he’s going to be fantastic IMO.

      • Jared Tyra

        Playing with torn ligaments is out-of-this-world tough; that’s the kind of character I hope the OU coaches are out there recruiting right now. Sounds like Willis really needs an offer from the men in crimson. Do you know if they’re considering him at this point in the process?

        • Super K

          If they are…they definitely aren’t saying anything to him. From what I gather they’re interested in J. Thomas and Ismael Murphy Richardson. Not sure where they will go next if they don’t get either.

  • JD

    Nice work guys…Super K, miss the rebel but I know where to find you

  • pitbull17

    I hate that Willis is leaving the state, but these kids have to do what is best for them. That being said I’d rather see him go to Oregon St. than Ok.State any day. It makes me happy that an OU commit is getting the highest grade out of all, especially when Truelove doesn’t know that he’s an OU commit.

    • Super K

      I hate it too. Every ounce of me tells me he’s going to be a player. And you won’t find a nicer young man!