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2015 NFL DRAFT

Anthony Hitchens, OLB

School: Iowa  |  Conference: BIG10
College Experience: Senior  |  Hometown: Lorain, OH
Height/Weight: 6-0 / 240 lbs.
Projected Ranking
OverallPositionProj. Rnd.
35531-

Player Lowdown

Combine Results
40 Yd 20 Yd 10 Yd 225 Bench Vertical jump Broad Shuttle 3-Cone Drill
4.712.691.6123 31 1/29'8"4.457.15
Workout Results
40 Yd 20 Yd 10 Yd 225 Bench Vertical jump Broad Shuttle 3-Cone Drill
4.652.721.63- -09'09"4.44-

Mock Draft Expert Analysis

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Strengths Weaknesses

STRENGTHS: Possessing a compact, athletic frame, Hitchens displays an explosive first step, good balance through contact and agility to redirect quickly in space. Highly physical defender who delivers a pop on contact to fight off blockers, as well as good lateral agility to avoid them.

He's also a good fundamental tackler and an effective blitzer who exploits creases in the line and closes quickly in space. Showed significant improvement in route-recognition and spatial awareness in his coverage duties in 2013. Experienced special teams performer. Saw action on kickoff and punt return formations. Made strides in his second full season, providing some hope that the light is coming on.

WEAKNESSES: Comes with size limitations. Possesses a boxy frame that some will see as better suited to fullback and does not possess ideal arm length. Doesn't protect his knees well enough to the cut-block, showing only average flexibility and awareness in this regard.

Relies on his closing speed to hit ballcarriers and knock them to the ground, rather than wrapping securely. While he does get his hips around quickly and maintains burst in transition, he's inconsistent with his awareness of what's going on around or behind him when asked to drop into coverage and stay pointed at the line of scrimmage. When his back is to the quarterback, he'll struggle to get his head back around and track the ball in one-on-one coverage situations downfield, and will occasionally over-run his gap in pursuit up near the line.

COMPARES TO: Jamar Chaney, Atlanta Falcons - Like Chaney, Hitchens possesses a boxy frame that doesn't look the part of an NFL linebacker. Quickness and closing speed, however, give him a shot at surprising, especially if the timely big plays that characterized Hitchens' senior campaign continue.

--Rob Rang

Player Overview

Hitchens may not have received the same fanfare throughout his career as teammates James Morris and Christian Kirksey enjoyed, but in leading the Big Ten in tackles in his first starting season and delivering several big plays in 2013 as an encore, he has firmly established himself as an NFL prospect.

Hitchens signed with Iowa as a running back and was immediately asked to convert to safety. Injuries at running back forced him back to his old role for a bit as a true freshman before he ultimately settled back on the defensive side of the ball as an outside linebacker, logging a few snaps in a 27-24 Insight.com Bowl win over Missouri to end the 2010 season.

A knee sprain robbed Hitchens of much of his 2011 campaign, giving him just 34 tackles over his first two seasons at Iowa, but he exploded at weak-side linebacker in 2012, recording a conference-leading 124 tackles (including 5.5 for loss) in a breakout performance. Though his numbers dropped in 2013, Hitchens was characterized as the team's most improved linebacker by head coach Kirk Ferentz, who cited his greater number of big plays (13 tackles for loss and two forced fumbles).

Big plays against Michigan (three tackles for loss, forced fumble) and Nebraska (interception) were particularly bright spots, leading to plenty of hope that Hitchens' star might be on the rise as he's heading into the NFL.

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Player News
05/11/2014 - A closer look at the Cowboys' picks: Round 4/119 -- Anthony Hitchens, OLB, 6-0, 240, Iowa...Seems to be a bit of a reach as he could have been available later in the draft but he was very productive in college and likes to hit. He led Iowa in tackles in 2013 and was the defensive MVP. Will have an immediate impact on special teams and could push Bruce Carter at weak-side linebacker. - The Sports Xchange
 

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