2015 NFL DRAFT
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Robert James, OLB

Height: 5-11 | Weight: 219 | College: Arizona State
 
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Overview

Nicknamed "The Beast" by teammates for his reckless abandon on the football field, James finally got an opportunity to start as a senior and did not disappoint. He helped the team improve from being ranked 51st in the nation in total defense (327.85 ypg) in 2006 to 30th nationally in 2007 (345.15). He led the team in tackles with a career-high 106 during his final campaign, earning All-American and All-Pac 10 Conference recognition.

The Sun Devils' Most Valuable Defensive Player (2007) played at nearby Maryvale High School before arriving on ASU's campus. He lettered four times in football and twice in track, earning second-team All-City honors as a defensive back and first-team accolades at running back. He was also an All-City honoree in track as a sophomore.

James served as team captain for his football and track teams in each of his last two seasons. He collected 102 tackles as a junior and tallied 1,300 rushing yards with 16 touchdowns and 54 tackles during his senior year.

James enrolled at Arizona State in 2003, playing on the scout team as a safety. The 209-pounder shifted to strong-side outside linebacker in 2005, appearing in 10 games behind Dale Robinson. He spent most of the year with the special teams, posting six tackles (95 solos) with a 7-yard sack.

As a sophomore, James shifted to weak-side linebacker, starting six of the 11 games he played in. He posted 36 tackles (17 solos) with a sack and five stops for losses. He also had one interception and five pass deflections. He played as a reserve in the team's first eight games of 2006, but missed the final five contests due to a concussion. He managed to deliver 26 tackles (18 solos) with a sack and 4.5 stops behind the line of scrimmage before being sidelined.

In 2007, James was nearly unstoppable. He led the Sun Devils with 106 tackles (62 solos), getting to the quarterback 2.5 times with 9.5 stops for losses and a pair of pressures. He caused a fumble, broke up three passes and intercepted four others.

Analysis

Positives: College linebacker who lacks ideal size to play that position in the pro ranks, but could shift to strong safety, a position he has experience playing … Has good field vision and instincts and is alert to what is happening on the field, as he is quick to diagnose plays … Shows a strong hand punch and good placement when jamming the tight end at the line of scrimmage … Takes proper angles in pursuit and has the ability to jump and extend for the ball in traffic … Roams the field with determination, showing an explosive burst for the blitz … Aggressive taking on lead blockers, gaining leverage on his opponents through proper hand usage while showing the hand strength to wrap up ballcarriers in the backfield or on the perimeter … Shows fluid lateral agility and the quickness to make plays wide and has a sharp closing burst on the weak-side … Breaks down properly in the open when runners change direction and has the quickness to catch the backs from behind … Covers in the flat with aggression, showing the recovery speed to flash to the inside … Extends his hands well to avoid low blocks at his feet and maintains balance getting through the trash at the line … Goes low in his stance, extending his arms to wrap, secure and drive the opponent back on his heels … Effective drag-down tackler who is very comfortable falling back inside to curl and hook … Has good field awareness dropping back in the zone, demonstrating good pass drop skills and fluid backpedal that could be better suited for the strong safety position at the pro level … Has a good feel for the zone, dropping back smoothly and with no hesitation in pass defense … Shows fluid lateral pursuit ability and gets a good jump on the ball defending vs. the pass … Has a sharp break out of his backpedal, showing good flexibility to push off the receivers on deep routes … Shows large, soft hands for the interception … Good at avoiding blocks along the line and will generally be in position to make the play.

Negatives: Plays too shallow at times, negating his deep coverage skills … Appears more comfortable as a drag-down tackler and needs to show better arm extension in attempts to wrap up, but takes proper angles in pursuit to compensate … Gets suckered out of position at times, as he will bite on play-action and misdirection … Will finesse rather than try to maul blockers, which results in him getting tied up by some blocks when trying to shed … Better flowing to the play-side than from behind … Drives for depth with good angle in his pass drops, but keeps his feet a little narrow handling the switch-off in the zone … Freelances often and might not have good success playing in a structured defense … Has good strength to impact ballcarriers, but his lack of bulk and size sees him engulfed by larger blockers and he struggles vs. double teams when playing at the X's … More quick than fast and might not have the pure speed to run with receivers in the deep third of the field (for a possible move to safety) … 2007 was his only season of note, as he failed to get much playing time his first four years, despite playing with one of the more mediocre units in college … Missed close to half of the 2006 season with a concussion and further medical evaluation might be warranted.

Compares To: CATO JUNE-Tampa Bay … For James to succeed at weak-side linebacker, he will have to play in a Cover-2 alignment, as his size and bulk issues cause serious problems when trying to shed blocks at the line of scrimmage. He has good pass drop skills and eyes for the ball in flight and could make a shift to safety at the pro level, but he has just adequate foot speed, which might not be enough to cover receivers in the deep third of the zone. He came into his own as a senior, but was allowed to freelance quite a bit and he might not be able to play in a controlled system. Still, with smallish linebackers becoming all the rage in a Cover-2, there could be a place for him on some team as a late-round draft choice.

Career Notes

Started 19 of 42 games during his career at Arizona State, recording 174 tackles (102 solos) with 5.5 sacks for minus-55 yards, 9.5 stops for losses of 38 yards and a pair of quarterback pressures … Caused two fumbles, deflected eight passes and gained 21 yards on five interception returns (4.2 avg).

2007 Season

All-American honorable mention by Rivals.com … All-Pac 10 Conference first-team choice and named the team's Most Valuable Defensive Player … Ranked seventh in the conference and led the team with a career-high 106 tackles (62 solos), adding 2.5 sacks for minus 24 yards, 9.5 stops for losses of 38 yards and a pair of quarterback pressures while starting all thirteen games at weak-side outside linebacker … Averaged 8.2 tackles per game … Had four interceptions for 21 yards in returns … Caused a fumble and deflected three passes … Made at least ten tackles in four contests, leading a unit that ranked third in the league in scoring defense (22.54 ppg) and fourth in run defense (116.23 ypg) and total defense (345.15 ypg).

2007 Game Analysis

Totaled a game-high 10 tackles (seven solo), with a 13-yard sack and an interception vs. San Jose State in the season opener, earning U.S. Bank Pac-10 Conference Defensive Player of the Week honors for his efforts vs. the Spartans … Tallied a game-high 4.5 tackles-for-loss (minus 15 yards), as well as a team-high nine total hits (six solo), with two pass deflections and a 9-yard sack vs. Colorado … Recorded 11 total tackles (nine solo) and assisted on a stop behind the line of scrimmage vs. San Diego State … Picked off a pair of passes for 8 yards in returns vs. Oregon State and finished with nine tackles (7 solo) … Led all defenders with 11 tackles (four solo) and assisted on a two-yard sack vs. Stanford … Added a team-high nine tackles (six solo) and a pass break-up vs. Washington State … Was in on seven tackles (three solo) and assisted on a stop for a loss vs. Washington … Made three tackles and had an interception vs. California … Followed with nine tackles (three solo) vs. Oregon and registered five tackles (four solo) vs. UCLA … Totaled a game-high 11 tackles (five solo) and forced a fumble vs. Southern California … Posted five tackles (three solo) vs. rival Arizona … Closed out his career with seven tackles (five solo), with 1.5 stops behind the line of scrimmage (minus six yards) vs. Texas in the Holiday Bowl.

2006 Season

Earned Hard Hat Player recognition for his work in the team's winter strength and conditioning program … Played in the team's first eight games as a reserve weak-side outside linebacker, missing the Sun Devils' final five contests due to a concussion … Made 26 tackles (18 solos) with a 13-yard sack, 4.5 stops for losses of 21 yards and a forced fumble.

2006 Game Analysis

Tied for the game-high with six tackles (five solo), adding two stops for minus 16 yards and a 13-yard sack of Wolf Pack QB Jeff Rowe in ASU's victory over Nevada … Posted five tackles (four solo) and a stop for a 3-yard loss vs. Colorado … Recorded four solo tackles and a stop behind the line of scrimmage vs. California … Tallied four tackles (two solo) vs. Oregon and posted four solo tackles and a stop for a 1-yard loss vs. Stanford … Left the Washington game in the first quarter after suffering a concussion that would force him to sit out the team's final five games.

2005 Season

Started six of eleven games at weak-side outside linebacker (ineligible to play vs. Rutgers in the Insight Bowl), recording 36 tackles (17 solos) … Had an 11-yard sack, five stops for losses of 20 yards and five pass deflections … Also intercepted one pass.

2005 Game Analysis

Had an 11-yard sack of QB JaMarcus Russell and posted six tackles vs. Louisiana State … Intercepted a Matt Moore pass, posted four tackles and broke up two passes vs. Oregon State … Registered five tackles (two solo) vs. Stanford … Made four tackles vs. UCLA and produced six tackles with two stops for losses in the Southern California clash.

2004 Season

Played in 10 games as a reserve strong-side outside linebacker, coming up with six tackles (5 solos) … Had a season-high four tackles and a 7-yard sack vs. Arizona … Made two solo tackles vs. Texas-El Paso.

2003 Season

Red-shirted as a freshman, competing on the scout team as a safety.

Injury Report

2006: Suffered a concussion vs. Washington (10/28), missing the team's final five games vs. Oregon State, Washington State, UCLA, Arizona and Hawaii.

2008: Failed to complete Combine agility tests due to a right hamstring strain.

Agility Tests

Campus: 4.7 in the 40-yard dash … Bench pressed 225 pounds 26 times … 31-inch vertical jump … 9'6" broad jump … 32 3/8-inch arm length … 9 1/2-inch hands.

Combine: 4.75 in the 40-yard dash … 1.67 10-yard dash … 2.82 20-yard dash … Bench pressed 225 pounds 22 times.

High School

Attended Maryvale (Glendale, Az.) High School, lettering four times in football and twice in track, earning second-team All-City honors as a defensive back and first-team accolades at running back … Was also an All-City honoree in track as a sophomore … Served as team captain for his football and track teams in each of his last two seasons … Collected 102 tackles as a junior and tallied 1,300 rushing yards with 16 touchdowns and 54 tackles during his senior year.

Personal

Interdisciplinary Studies major, with an emphasis in sociology and education … Son of Easter and Robert James … Born Robert William James on 12/26/83 … Resides in Glendale, Arizona.

 
 
 

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