Scouting Profile: LB Azeem Victor, Washington

As the NFL becomes more and more positionless, trying to project which specific position spots prospects will fill in at becomes more and more of a challenge. Especially at the linebacker spot, I think back to the 2016 draft which saw Akron linebacker Jatavis Brown get drafted at the end of the 5th round by the Chargers; I would have never guessed that going into his second season Brown would be a starting middle linebacker. Draft analysts were wondering if he could even handle the physicality of being a weakside linebacker, becoming a middle linebacker wasn’t part of the discussion. Perhaps a more famous example, look back at the 2014 draft when Anthony Barr was drafted 9th overall by the Vikings. Barr was projected as a prototype 3-4 edge rusher, with his 6’4” 250-pound frame and amazing athleticism. Many analysts thought the Vikings were making a mistake trying to fit Barr into a strong side 4-3 linebacker role. If you can take one thing from these examples, it’s that NFL coaches can mold a special athlete like Barr or Brown into just about anything, and projected position labels are just educated guesses. So here we are with Washington linebacker Azeem Victor who plays in the middle for the Huskies. I don’t know where he’ll play at the next level, but the bottom line is that he’s going to be out there playing somewhere, and that’s what’s ultimately important. So let’s break down Victor’s game by his strengths and weaknesses, and discuss his bright NFL future!

Strengths

Technique: Azeem Victor is about as good a linebacker technique-wise as you’ll come across. Beginning with tackling, Victor is both the sound tackler that coaches like and the big hitter that brings fans to their feet. After his tackling, his body positioning and leverage are very solid. Good linebackers find a way to contort their bodies to get off of and around blocks, that’s exactly what Victor does. Lastly, I liked what I saw in his fluidity with his hips, but unfortunately, in the Washington defense, he didn’t have a lot of opportunities to really show them. Overall there is a lot to be excited about with Victor technique wise!

Athleticism: Victor is an athlete first and foremost. It will be his calling card and trademark, and it’s what bleeds into every facet of his game. From man and zone coverage to pursuing speed backs to either end of the field, Victor is rarely, if ever, overmatched athletically. Perhaps the best part of his athleticism will be the versatility he will be able to draw upon because of it! Victor truly has the ability to play at any 4-3 linebacker spot (or 3-4 ILB) and in any scheme. His ranginess in coverage would allow him to play the Mike in a “Tampa 2” scheme, while his tackling ability in space fits very well in a Cover 3 or man scheme.

Coverage: My one beef with scouting Washington defensive prospects? The Huskies play almost exclusively zone defense and Cover 3 at that. That’s why I really don’t have much to say about Victor’s man coverage ability. All I can say is that by proxy of his other skills, there’s a lot of hope and promise there. He definitely has the speed and quickness to stick with backs and tight ends; I just don’t know if his hips and man coverage skills are what you look for in coverage linebackers. Anyway, enough complaining, the benefit with scouting these Washington players? You really get to see their zone coverage skills, and from what I saw out of Victor, I’m really excited about this part of his game. Victor plays his zone extremely well while also keeping his eyes on the quarterback. Victor’s quickness and agility really help him out in his “hook/curl” Cover 3 responsibility, and that may just be the perfect fit for him going forward.

 

  • Here’s one of the few times Victor was in man coverage.

 

Dealing With Blocks:

How well Victor can deal with NFL blockers will determine how complete of a linebacker he becomes; It’s safe to say he’s dealt with D1 blockers very well so far. As I mentioned earlier, Victor’s ability to leverage his body, and bend himself to fill running lanes is damn impressive. With his ability to deal with blocks, and his sound tackling skills, I like Victor’s future as a run defender.  

Weaknesses

Strength:

How well Victor can play the run is even more impressive considering his lack of great strength. Not to say that Victor isn’t strong, especially for the college game, but I’m not quite sure he’s ready to handle the strongest the National Football League has to offer. Strength may just be the last piece of the puzzle for Victor to be a complete linebacker, and if he does get stronger, becoming a future All Pro player is not out of reach.

Summary

Linebackers are often the apple of IDP players eyes, and Victor should be considered one of the best in this 2018 class. Potential owners should be excited about his three-down ability, and versatility to shine in any system. My one concern, as should also be the concern of potential owners is Victor could end up being used as a more of a coverage linebacker, rather than a run stuffer. At the end of the day, Victor is a tremendous talent who should be dominant for Washington this season. Here we are still very early in the draft process, as of now I have him slotted as a late first/early second round talent!

Arizona
Oregon State
USC

 

bylitalo

Bradley Ylitalo, Minneapolis MN. Bethel Football Student Coach. Scouting/Devy writer for the Dynasty Football Factory. Follow me on twitter @NFL_drafthub or find me on facebook: Bradley Ylitalo

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