Courtney Upshaw

Draft Grades: Baltimore Ravens

Sometimes it feels like the Baltimore Ravens can do no wrong on draft day. Everything Ozzie Newsome touches turns to gold this time of year. How often does a team trade out of the 1st round and still end up with one of the players they were targeting?

The Ravens would have been happy to make Courtney Upshaw a 1st-rounder, but instead they move back and still snag him in the early 2nd round. The recent injury to Terrell Suggs now makes this one of the most important picks in the entire draft.

Kelechi Osemele played left tackle at Iowa State, but he’ll likely be given an opportunity to compete for the starting left guard position vacated by Ben Grubbs. He was a slight reach in the 2nd, but I can’t fault them too much for filling an immediate need.

Bernard Pierce is a great fit as a compliment to Ray Rice. He’ll probably never develop into a starter, but he can play the role of the short-yardage back in Baltimore.

Gino Gradkowski was a reach in the early 4th round. He rose up draft boards this offseason, but 98th overall was early for a developmental guard/center. That said, the Ravens are probably hoping to develop him behind Matt Birk.

I like the selection of Christian Thompson. He’s an intriguing¬†developmental prospect and he landed in an ideal place to learn the game behind Ed Reed. He’ll play special teams early in his career, with the hope that he can grow into a starting role down the line.

Asa Jackson adds some depth to the secondary and could compete with Corey Graham and Cary Williams for some playing time.

I was not as high on Tommy Streeter as some, but was still surprised to see him on the board in the 6th round. He has all the measurables necessary to be a matchup nightmare, but never really put it all together at Miami. He’s a nice developmental prospect to have around.

DeAngelo Tyson is a nose tackle who will compete for playing time behind Terrence Cody. If he wins the backup job, he’ll see a fair amount of playing time due to Cody’s lack of stamina and inability to remain effective deep into games.

This was another strong draft for Ozzie Newsome, who consistently puts together some of the best draft classes. They may have landed two immediate starters (Upshaw and Osemele) and at least one other (Pierce) who will contribute immediately.

Posted on by Ryan McCrystal in Draft Grades - 2012, Ravens Comments Off

Baltimore Ravens select Courtney Upshaw, Grade A+

This is why teams like the Baltimore Ravens remain contenders year after year. They don’t get cute in the draft, they just wait for a great player to fall into their lap.

There are legitimate reasons why Courtney Upshaw fell into the 2nd round. He’s a ‘tweener, who doesn’t really look the part physically. But he’s been nothing but productive at Alabama, and the Ravens have the coaching staff and the leadership on the field to get the most out of his potential. They’ll use him in ways to fit his strengths and I have no doubt Upshaw will be productive from day one.

Posted on by Ryan McCrystal in 2012 NFL Draft, Ravens Comments Off

Buffalo Bills interested in Courtney Upshaw?

Now that the Buffalo Bills have fully committed to the 4-3 defense – after two years stuck somewhere in between schemes – mock drafts are popping up all over the internet with the Bills linked to a defensive end.

The most popular choice seems to be Alabama’s Courtney Upshaw, who played a hybrid linebacker/end role for the Crimson Tide.

Upshaw has 1st-round talent, but would be a reach in the top 10.

While I certainly understand the logic behind the Upshaw/Bills connection, I don’t think he’s a great fit in Buffalo.

As much as I like Upshaw, he shouldn’t be in the top 10 of any draft board belonging to a team which runs the 4-3 defense. He can be an effective pass rusher in that system, but he struggles against the run. He simply lacks the strength to consistently shed blocks, especially when he’s lined up at the point of attack.

That’s not to say he can’t start at defensive end at the next level, but the Bills could get much better value at No. 10. As a defensive end, Upshaw compares favorably to a guy like Jabaal Sheard. He a solid pass rusher, and holds his own in the run game, but not someone you want to build your defensive line around.

If the Bills are committed to improving their defensive line in this draft, their best strategy may be to trade down. This isn’t a great class of ends at the top, but there are up to seven prospects who could warrant mid-to-late 1st round picks. The Bills could potentially slide back a few slots and still land a guy like Nick Perry or Melvin Ingram, both of whom fit into the 4-3 scheme better than Upshaw.

Posted on by Ryan McCrystal in 2012 NFL Draft, Bills 2 Comments

Courtney Upshaw scouting report

Courtney Upshaw OLB Alabama #41
Ht: 6’2″Wt: 273 ¬†
Strengths:
Decent athlete for his size; well above-average mobility for a defensive end. A smart, disciplined player; isn’t overaggressive in pursuit. Stays in his zone and keeps his eyes in the backfield. Impressive change-of-direction ability for an end/linebacker. A scrappy player; very active hands – can really get under an offensive lineman’s skin throughout the course of a game. Explosive off the snap. Does a nice job making himself small to slip through holes when blitzing on the inside. Also has the speed and quickness to win off the edge. Strong wrap-up tackler. Has experience playing linebacker in a 3-4, and with his hand on the ground in some 4-3 sets. Tough defender who plays through the whistle.
Weaknesses:
Sort of a ‘tweener who doesn’t fit perfectly at end or linebacker. Struggles to shed blocks against the run. A much better run defender when when at linebacker, and given more space to move. Easily tossed around by more physically imposing offensive tackles, especially when running play is headed his direction. Arrested for domestic assault in 2009; chargers were later dropped.
Comments:
Upshaw is a tough player to evaluate, because each team will view him differently based on their scheme. He has the ability to start and be an effective pass rusher in either a 4-3 or 3-4 scheme. However, due to his struggles against the run, he would probably be more valuable at linebacker in a 3-4 scheme. He works much better against the run when given space, and can be a true three-down linebacker in that system.
Videos:
2011 vs LSU (National Championship Game)
2011 vs Auburn
2011 vs Florida 
Posted on by Ryan McCrystal in Scouting Reports - 2012 Comments Off