2015 NFL DRAFT
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Wesley Woodyard, OLB

Height: 6-1 | Weight: 227 | College: Kentucky
 
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Overview

If players were measured by their heart and desire instead of their body structure, Woodyard would be a giant among men. A fearless tackler with little regard for his own safety, he will probably switch to safety at the professional level. Even with the addition of 10 pounds of bulk after his final season, the Wildcat realizes his days as a linebacker might come to an end in 2008.

Woodyard has experience playing in the defensive backfield, having enrolled at Kentucky as a strong safety, where he played until moving to linebacker midway through his freshman campaign. He would go on to start 42 games at weak-side linebacker for the Wildcats, becoming the first UK player since 1992 to register more than 300 career tackles, finishing his tenure at Kentucky as the school's eighth-ranked tackler with 395. Along the way, he produced at least 10 tackles in 18 contests.

At LaGrange High School, Woodyard was named the Georgia Class AAA Defensive Player of the Year by the Atlanta Journal-Constitution. He added first-team All-State honors as a senior (Georgia Sportswriters Association and the Journal-Constitution) and was one of the top 50 safeties in the nation as rated by Rivals.com. He also won a Distinguished Athlete Award from the U. S. Marine Corps.

A four-year letterman and two-year starter at outside linebacker, he helped the team post a 51-3 record during his career, winning a pair of state championships. Woodyard accounted for the only points in the state quarterfinals, tackling a running back for a safety in a 2-0 win over Swainsboro. He made 125 tackles during his senior season, including 11 tackles for loss, as he had six fumble recoveries, returning four for touchdowns. As a junior, he notched 81 tackles, 12 tackles for loss, two fumbles caused and an interception.

In addition to his defensive work, he played occasionally on offense at wingback. He was a three-year letterman on the track team, competing in the 400-meter run and the 4x100-meter relay. The relay team finished second in the state meet during his sophomore year. He was also a member of the Fellowship of Christian Athletes.

Woodyard selected Kentucky over Auburn, Arkansas, South Carolina and Southern Mississippi during the recruiting wars, arriving on campus in 2004 as a strong safety. He played in 10 games, starting five late season contests after switching to weak-side inside linebacker despite weighing just 196 pounds. He earned Freshman All-Southeastern Conference honors and became the first freshman to serve as a team captain (for Indiana and Alabama games).

That season, Woodyard produced 34 tackles (26 solos) with a stop for a loss and a pair of QB pressures. He shifted to weak-side outside linebacker as a sophomore, going on to lead the team in tackles in each of the next three seasons. He delivered the first of three 100-tackle campaigns, with 75 solo hits, two sacks and seven stops for losses in 2005. He broke up five passes, intercepted another and recovered four fumbles, garnering All-SEC honorable mention as he ranked fourth in the conference in tackles.

As a junior, Woodyard ranked 18th in the nation with a team-high 122 tackles (80 solos), the second-best figure in the conference. The first-team All-SEC and Academic All-SEC pick had two sacks and 9.5 stops behind the line of scrimmage, as he constantly wreaked havoc in the backfield, causing four fumbles while recovering two others. He also had an interception and a pair of pass break-ups.

The 212-pound linebacker again earned All-SEC first-team recognition as a senior. He was in on a career-high 139 tackles (78 solos), ranking 17th in the nation while leading the league with an average of 10.62 hits per game. He had five pass break-ups, a fumble recovery and three forced fumbles in 3 games.

In 47 games at Kentucky, Woodyard started 42 contests, missing only one game due to an injury. He registered 395 tackles (259 solos) with 6.5 sacks for minus-48 yards and 26 stops for losses of 96 yards. He caused seven fumbles, recovered seven others, including one that he returned 21 yards. He deflected 12 passes and intercepted two others.

Analysis

Positives: Has a lean, high-cut frame, but can carry at least another 10 pounds of bulk with no loss in quickness … Tight-skinned athlete with adequate upper body muscle tone (built in the lines of a safety) … Has rare straight-line speed and despite obvious hip stiffness, is quick to close on plays in front of him … Smart player who shows awareness and good instincts on the field … Learns and picks up things well on the field and is an aggressive wrap-up tackler who will not hesitate to give up his body and lay a blow if he gets into position … Has a good motor and is productive playing on the move, showing good avoidance skills to slip past a lethargic blocker to generate backside pressure … Works hard in the weight room and is a coachable player who is a vocal team leader … Does a good job of reading his keys and diagnosing plays and reacts with good suddenness, showing a keen feel for blocking schemes … Plays with awareness and shows a good nose for the ball, as he does a nice job of sifting through trash to locate it, or when pushing the outside running game back inside … Doesn't look pretty while getting to the ball, but somehow finds ways to sidestep trash to make plays on the ball in front of him … Shows some strength as a hitter and while he will occasionally use his body, he has the ability to jump and grab a short ball in front of him … Quality performer on all of the special team coverage squads, getting downfield quickly to break up the wedge … Has a good hand punch to jolt and redirect tight ends and slot receivers in the short-area passing game … Despite obvious bulk issues, he plays with good aggression and courage attacking offensive linemen … Has a good feel for taking angles that shorten his path to the ballcarrier, especially when making plays from the backside … Has the collision skills and strong hands to dislodge the ball from a running back or receiver who fails to secure it properly … Best when making plays in front of him due to stiff hips that prevent him from getting good pass drop depth … Is generally in position to make the play, especially in space.

Negatives: Has a very small frame to play linebacker, with marginal chest thickness, very tight hips than make him appear too stiff while on the move, thin thighs and narrow calves … Struggles to change direction and to move laterally … An undersized player who plays very high vs. inside runs, exposing himself to blockers that have good success in attacking his body (needs to use his hands better to ward off blockers) … Struggles to shed blockers when working along the line of scrimmage … Gets engulfed at the point of attack, and while he flashes some ability to shed wide receiver and tight end blocks, he plays too high and is too small to defeat offensive lineman in one-on-one battles … Shows marginal hand usage vs. tight ends (has a good punch when he delivers it, though), failing to bend well to stack and engage and to get hands in good position … Lacks a good, strong base to stack … An adequate outside run defender with rare straight-line speed to get to the perimeter, but lacks good body control and will often overrun the ballcarrier … Shows good effort in lateral pursuit but, athletically he doesn't move well to get over the top … Struggles to get through trash, and needs to get himself turned while in lateral pursuit … A competitive tackler who will lay some wood, but plays out of control … Occasionally will horse-collar tackle high, as well as miss a few … Has the straight-line speed to trail in man coverage, but is very stiff in his hips and struggles to transition and turn while in man coverage, occasionally playing erect and grabbing his opponents … During pass drops, his pad level is too high while separating from the line of scrimmage, showing stiff hips and struggling to get his back to the ball … Has the ability to read and react in zone coverage but, athletically, his ability to redirect and to get into position to make a play on the ball is limited … Struggles to adjust to the thrown ball and despite good leaping ability, his poor timing prevents him from high-pointing the throw … As a blitzer, he will come hard off the edge, but doesn't break down well at the point of attack for a sack or tackle for a loss.

Compares To: MARLON McCREE-Denver … Like the former Wildcat, Woodyard is an undersized college linebacker who will have to move to strong safety at the professional level. He can't fool the scouts with his 15-pound weight increase before the NFL Combine, as he showed throughout his career that he struggles to maintain his weight at that level. He will have a tough time playing safety though, unless he can drastically improve his hip stiffness. He is a good read-and-react type that might be better served as a kamikaze on special teams or playing in nickel and dime packages. Still, there is some-thing about his heart and desire that makes you feel he can overcome his physical limitations.

Career Notes

Became the first Kentucky player since Marty Moore (462 hits, 1990-93) to reach 300 tackles in a career … His 395 tackles rank eighth on the school career record list … His 139 tackles in 2007 were the most by a Wildcat since Moore posted 183 stops in 1991 … Had at least 0 tackles in 18 contests … Became the first freshman to serve as a game captain (vs. Indiana and Alabama) in 2004.

2007 Season

All-Southeastern Conference first-team selection by the league's coaches and Associated Press … Named the team's Most Outstanding Defensive Player by the coaching staff and Most Inspirational Defensive Player by the players … Chosen SEC Defensive Player of the Week by SEC Office for the Arkansas game … Started all thirteen games at weak-side out-side linebacker, leading the team for the third consecutive year with 139 tackles (78 solos) … Ranked tied for 17th in the nation, as he led the SEC with an average of 10.62 tackles per game … Registered 2.5 sacks for minus 15 yards and 8.5 stops for losses of 27 yards … Recovered one fumble and caused three others … Also deflected five passes … Had at least ten tackles in seven games, including his final three contests … Served as team captain.

2007 Game Analysis

Assisted on a 3-yard sack and made five tackles vs. Eastern Kentucky in the season opener … Added fifteen tackles (5 solos) with a pass break-up vs. Kent State … Added thirteen tackles (4 solos), including a stop behind the line of scrimmage and a pass deflection vs. Louisville … Totaled eighteen tackles (13 solos) with a stop for a 1-yard loss and forced a fumble that Trevard Lindley returned 66 yards for a score vs. Arkansas … Had

Seven hits (4 solos) with two stops for minus 3 yards vs. Florida Atlantic … Came up with eight tackles (7 solos), 1.5 sacks for minus 6 yards, 2.5 stops behind the line of scrimmage and a pass deflection vs. South Carolina … Posted eleven tackles (6 solos) with 1.5 stops for minus 3 yards vs. Louisiana State … Added eioght tackles in each of his next two games vs. Florida and Mississippi State … Caused a fumble and made nine tackles (6 solos) vs. Vanderbilt … Followed with twelve tackles (9 solos), assisting on a 6-yard sack while forcing a fumble vs. Georgia … Collected ten tackles (5 solos) vs. Tennessee and closed out his career with fifteen tackles (9 solos) vs. Florida State in the Music City Bowl.

2006 Season

All-Southeastern Conference first-team choice by the league's coaches … Added Academic All-SEC honors … Named the team's Most Outstanding Defensive Player by the Wildcat coaches … Ranked second in the SEC and 18th nationally in tackles per game, averaging 9.4 per contest … Led the team with 122 tackles (80 solos), including two sacks for minus 17 yards and 9.5 stops for losses of 31 yards … Recovered two fumbles and caused four others … Deflected two passes and had one interception.

2006 Game Analysis

Had thirteen tackles with two stops for losses and a pass break-up vs. Louisville, adding eight hits with a stop behind the line of scrimmage, a forced fumble and a deflected pass vs. Mississippi … Totaled ten tackles as he also caused a fumble vs. Florida … Made nine tackles with a stop for a 2-yard loss and recovered two fumbles vs. Central Michigan … Posted eleven hits vs. South Carolina and had six tackles with 1.5 stops for minus 4 yards, an interception and a pass deflection vs. Mississippi State … Totaled eight tackles in each of the Georgia and Vanderbilt games … Followed with twelve hits and an 11-yard sack vs. Louisiana-Monroe … Collected eleven tackles with a stop for a 4-yard loss, one pressure and a forced fumble vs. Tennessee … Added a 6-yard sack, a forced fumble and twelve stops vs. Clemson in the Music City Bowl.

2005 Season

Sophomore All-American and honorable mention All-SEC pick … Took over weak-side out-side linebacker duties, ranking third in the league and 27thy nationally with an average of 7.73 tackles per game … Led the Wildcats with 100 tackles (75 solos), including two sacks for minus 16 yards and seven stops for losses of 35 yards … Recovered four fumbles, advancing one 21 yards … Deflected five passes and intercepted another.

2005 Game Analysis

Ended the season vs. Tennessee with his best game as a Wildcat, totaling a career-high 18 tackles, including two for loss, plus a fumble recovery and a pass breakup … Played a big role in the win over Mississippi State with 11 tackles, a fumble recovery, sacking the quarterback on a fourth-down play, and had a QB hurry that forced an incompletion on a fourth-down play.

2004 Season

Selected for the Freshman All-SEC Team by the league's coaches … Picked as the UK Special Teams Player of the Year by the coaching staff … Played in the first ten games, moving from strong safety to inside linebacker midway through the season and started five times at weak-side inside linebacker … Missed the Tennessee game because of a left ankle ligament tear … Finished with 34 tackles (26 solos), a stop for a 3-yard loss and a pair of quarterback pressures.

Injury Report

2004: Sat out the season finale vs. Tennessee (12/01) after suffering a left ankle ligament tear.

2007: Underwent left hand surgery in July after breaking the bone at the base of his left index finger during voluntary seven-on-seven drills. Had the cast removed on August 26.

2008: Could not lift at the NFL Combine due to a right shoulder sprain.

Agility Tests

Campus: 4.46 in the 40-yard dash … 375-pound bench press … Bench pressed 225 pounds 18 times … 530-pound squat … 325-pound power clean … 34-inch vertical jump … 34 5/8-inch arm length … 9 3/4-inch hands … Right-handed … 16/23 Wonderlic score.

Combine: 4.51 in the 40-yard dash … 1.52 10-yard dash … 2.58 20-yard dash … 4.25 20-yard shuttle … 11.46 60-yard shuttle … 7.15 three-cone drill … 30-inch vertical jump … 9'10" broad jump.

High School

Attended LaGrange (Ga.) High School, playing football for head coach Steve Pardue … Named the Georgia Class AAA Defensive Player of the Year by the Atlanta Journal-Constitution … Added first-team All-State honors as a senior (Georgia Sportswriters Association and the Journal-Constitution) and was one of the top 50 safeties in the nation as rated by Rivals.com … Won a Distinguished Athlete Award from the U.S. Marine Corps … The four-year letterman and two-year starter at outside linebacker, he helped the team post a 51-3 record during his career, winning a pair of state championships … Accounted for the only points in the state quarterfinals, tackling a running back for a safety in a 2-0 win over Swainsboro … Made 125 tackles during his senior season, including 11 tackles for loss, as he had six fumble recoveries, returning four for touchdowns … As a junior, he notched 81 tackles, 12 tackles for loss, two fumbles caused and an interception … In addition to his defensive work, he played occasionally on offense at wingback … Was a three-year letterman on the track team, competing in the 400-meter run and the 4x100-meter relay … The relay team finished second in the state meet during his sophomore year … Member of the Fellowship of Christian Athletes.

Personal

Social Work major … Cousin, Ashante Woodyard, played football at Purdue … Helped work at a youth football clinic (2005) … Participated in service events at the Bluegrass State Games (2006) and a Lexington middle school (2007) … Served as a mentor at a Lexington school for the fall semester of 2006 … Also has made community service appearances at schools in his hometown of LaGrange … Son of Edna Sutton and Wesley Woodyard Sr … Born 7/21/86 … Resides in LaGrange, Georgia.

 
 
 

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