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Tuesday, April 3, 2012
Draft preview series: Alabama DE/OLB Courtney Upshaw

By Bryan Broaddus and Tim MacMahon


The 17th installment of our draft preview series looks at Alabama DE/OLB Courtney Upshaw.

Scouts Inc. ranks: No. 3 defensive end, No. 17 overall
Bio: First-team All-SEC and All-American was a finalist for the Lombardi Award and Butkus Award as a senior. Had 9.5 sacks, 11 quarterback hurries, 18 tackles for losses, an interception he returned 45 yards for a touchdown and two forced fumbles for the nation’s top-ranked total, rushing and scoring defense. Had seven sacks and 14.5 tackles for losses as a junior

Courtney Upshaw
Alabama DE/OLB Courtney Upshaw plays with serious power and was a finalist for the Lombardi Award and Butkus Award as a senior.
Size: 6-foot-1 5/8, 272 pounds
40-yard dash: 4.81 seconds
Did not work out at scouting combine

Broaddus Breakdown (viewed Penn State, Arkansas, Auburn and LSU games): Played at Alabama as the open- or weak-side defensive end with his hand on the ground. Will most likely play as a strong-side linebacker in the NFL in a 3-4 defense. … The first thing you notice on film is how much power he plays with at the point of attack. The strength level is not the problem here. He really does a much better job than Melvin Ingram at using his hands and controlling the blockers. … Can split double-teams with his upper-body strength. Can easily take on double-teams and not be moved off the spot. … You see him walk blockers back into the quarterback with his bull rush in passing situations. … Does a really nice job of holding the point of attack in the running game. Is a hard guy to run at or to try and get around the corner on, but he did have one play where Auburn was able to get the ball on the edge and around the corner. That was the only one in four games. … Outstanding job of finding the football and playing with awareness. You see him play off the block and slide down inside when he sees the ball heading in that direction. Plays with an explosive burst and can close quickly. … Can run down plays from the back side, doesn’t give up on plays like others I have observed in this draft. Always trying to get to the ball. Is a downhill, attacking player. … Is a load to deal with when he is making a tackle. Has a great deal of natural power and snap when making a tackle. Ball carriers are stopped in their tracks when he delivers a blow. … Thought he did a nice job of playing the low block with his hands. Has to deal with this quite a bit because blockers do not want to take him on high. Really good technique here. … Will use an arm-over move to free himself, but will need to develop more pass rush moves because he can’t be a one-trick pony in this league when dealing with offensive tackles. Like the way he will work up the field, but he doesn’t have that elite pass rush speed to get the corner. His balance of quickness and power help him to do his job. You will see him win pass rush battles with his power, but again, he will need to learn some other techniques. … There are scouts that I talk to that aren’t sure if there is really a position for Upshaw, but what I saw with my own eyes is an outstanding football player. He, like Ingram, will have to be taught how to drop in coverage. Right now, it isn’t good enough, but he does show awareness and the ability to find the ball. … The best way to describe Upshaw is he is a fall player and not a spring one. Film shows he plays football very well in the fall, and that is all I care about.