2017 NFL Draft

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Cliff Avril, DE

Height: 6-3 | Weight: 253 | College: Purdue
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Purdue has become very proud to be known as the "Den of Defensive Ends."

In recent years, the Boilermakers' program has produced future NFL pass-rushing specialists Akin Ayodele (Dallas) Rosevelt Colvin (New England), Ray Edwards (Minnesota), Rob Ninkovich (Miami), Chike Okeafor (Arizona), Shaun Phillips (San Diego) and Anthony Spencer (Dallas). Many scouts feel that Cliff Avril will soon take his place with those former Boilermakers in terrorizing NFL quarterbacks.

Some teams have projected Avril as a rush end, but due to his lack of bulk and size, he could shift back to strong-side linebacker. Much like Shaun Phillips, Avril relies on his impressive foot speed and ability to shed blocks on the move to be a constant nuisance in the backfield. Since moving to defensive end two seasons ago, Avril registered 30 of his 35.5 tackles behind the line of scrimmage and 12.5 of his 13 sacks from the left end position.

At Clay High School, Avril earned second-team All-State honors as a defensive end during his senior year, yet, he was rated the 37-best outside linebacker prospect in the nation by Rivals.com. He was named to the Florida Times-Union Super 24 team and twice earned All-Conference accolades.

As a senior, Avril led the team to an 11-2 record. That year, he registered 80 tackles, nine sacks and eleven stops behind the line of scrimmage. He also deflected four passes. In addition to competing on the gridiron, he lettered in basketball, track and field and weight-lifting.

Avril enrolled at Purdue in 2004 and saw considerable action as a true freshman. He appeared in 12 games, starting four contests at strong-side linebacker. He was in on 36 tackles (23 solo), as he assisted on a sack and made three stops for losses. He also caused a fumble and batted away one pass.

Avril played in 10 games as a sophomore, as a midseason back injury that was later diagnosed as a fracture, hampered him the rest of the year and forced him to sit out the Wisconsin game, in addition to being limited in spring drills the following year. He made 33 tackles (21 solo) with 2.5 stops behind the line of scrimmage while starting four contests in 2005.

As a junior, Avril made several changes, switching from jersey No. 85 that he wore his first two seasons to No. 32. He started the first four games at strong-side linebacker, but then shifted to left defensive end for the final 10 games. He went on to rank ninth in the Big Ten Conference with 15 stops for losses. He registered 84 tackles (51 solo), third-best on the team and tied for second on the Boilermakers' defense with six sacks. He caused two fumbles, recovered another and picked off a pass. He also deflected six other tosses.

In 2007, Avril was named first-team All-Big Ten Conference by The NFL Draft Report and second-team by the league's media. He started all 13 games at left defensive end, where he led the team and tied for tenth in the conference with 6.5 sacks. He again paced the Boilermakers with 15 stops behind the line of scrimmage, the ninth-best total in the Big Ten. He caused four fumbles, recovered three others and broke up five passes. He also returned an interception for a touchdown.

In 49 games at Purdue, Avril started 35 contests, with 12 starts coming at strong-side linebacker and the other 23 at left defensive end. He ranks 12th in school history with 13 sacks for minus-79 yards and finished 11th in Purdue annals with 35.5 stops for losses of 137 yards. He caused seven fumbles and recovered four others while also deflecting 12 passes. He intercepted two passes, good for 48 yards in returns, including one touchdown.

Avril is the next Purdue pass rusher capable of making an impact in the NFL. He has great burst off the snap and because of his strength, hustle and strong hand play, he can be an effective 4-3 defensive end.

Despite his burst off the snap, however, Avril isn't a natural pass rusher. He lacks creative moves and only 6.5 of his team-leading 15 tackles for loss this past season were sacks. Avril is a good enough athlete, however, to play in space, and has developed into a cerebral defender potentially capable of making the switch back to outside linebacker -- a position he played his first two seasons for Purdue.


Positives: Undersized to be any every down defensive end, but he has good upper-body muscle tone, ideal arm length, big hands, tapered thighs and calves, along with the feet, balance and change-of-direction agility to bring better value as a strong-side linebacker … Has exceptional closing speed vs. plays in front of him and the lateral agility to string plays wide … Can impact the pocket coming off the edge, using his sudden burst to slip past a lethargic blocker, but needs to add some more pass rush moves and keep his hands more active when attempting counter moves … Has the agility to bend down the line and cover ground well, showing good urgency closing on the pocket … Gives total effort in his chase and plays with his head up, showing good instincts to find the ball, especially vs. naked bootlegs … Better performer on the move than working through trash and has the balance to quickly redirect and close … Will generate better production standing up, but even with his hand down, if he gets a dip inside, a slower blocker can't recover … Smart player who will have no problem digesting a playbook at multiple positions (down lineman/strong-side linebacker/rush end) … Plays with good aggression and determination, despite being outweighed vs. every opponent … Plays until the whistle and builds acceleration nicely when attacking downfield … Puts in extra hours studying tape of the upcoming opponent and, while a leader by example, he will not hesitate to get vocal in the huddle … His best asset is his initial step off the snap, as he is quick to elude, dip his pads and redirect to plays underneath … Has a good feel for reading blocking keys and is usually in proper position, rarely biting on play-action … Attacks the point with good intent, even when he knows he will be washed out by the bigger blockers … Has good balance, staying on his feet and bounces up quickly when cut … Is quick to react to the play when he locates the ball and has the short-area quickness to spill inside, getting his hands up to deflect passes at the line of scrimmage … Takes good angles coming off the edge and shows good vision to locate the quarterback and flush him out of the pocket … Needs to use his hands more to ward off blocks, but is a slippery type with good avoidance skills on the move … Will sometimes run around blocks, but can stay square in one-on-one encounters … Uses his hands well to keep separation when he keeps them inside his frame … Scrapes to the ball well and has good press ability when playing over the tight end … Prefers using his swim move at the "five" technique to combat turn out blocks, but just needs to do it with better consistency … Carries his pads well, evident in Senior Bowl practices when he constantly chased down ballcarriers on the outside or challenged the QBs on naked bootlegs … Capable of getting very good production making plays from the backside, as he seems to work his hands better there in attempts to shed blockers and fall underneath … Good go-with-the-flow outside run container who can run, slide and move in space to make plays … Will flow too fast and overrun a few plays, but is quick to redirect … Keeps his feet and will sell out to get wide on a play (runs long distances to deliver the hit) … Not a hammer-type of hitter, but can run the field, hit and sell out, showing the body control to break down and wrap up (gets lazy at times and tries to take a side, but showed improvement in rectifying this as a senior) … You won't see too many misses or leaks when tackling, if he keeps his hands inside and pad level true … Shows good anticipation coming off the snap and, when he finds a clean rush lane, he will sell out, go airborne and do whatever is needed to pressure the pocket … Has a natural chop-and-swipe technique off the line, but uses his hands better vs. the run than as a pass rusher … Knows how to change and vary his speed when he breaks free from blockers … Covers ground and closes well from the backside better than he does in-line … Has a decent feel for the blitz and with his speed, he can bring the heat, thanks to good change-of-direction skills that make it difficult for slower linemen to block him.

Negatives: Undersized defensive end who converted from outside linebacker early in his junior year and lacks the bulk to face up to the bigger offensive tackles … Can beat a slower offensive lineman off the snap with his hand on the ground, showing a sudden burst, but if the lineman gets his hands locked on, he struggles to shed … Lacks the anchor to maintain ground vs. double teams and can be pushed back when trying to work inside (does have a nifty spin move in-line to beat a lethargic blocker) … Much more effective playing in space and on the move, as he gets absorbed too much by double teams working on the line of scrimmage … Can get the ballcarrier down along the outside, but needs to wrap and get in front of the opponent better, as he tends to grab or take a side (stronger runners like Ohio State's Chris Wells and Wisconsin's P.J. Hill had good success breaking his arm tackles) … Has the speed to impact the pocket coming off the edge, but his pass-rush moves are still raw and he needs to add to those array of moves (has a great spin move, but must be more forceful with his hands on club moves and show better shoulder positioning on rip moves) … Telegraphs his moves coming off the snap and when his hands get outside his frame, blockers can easily neutralize his counter moves … Not strong enough to plug the inside rush lanes as a defensive lineman … Will need time to re-adjust to playing linebacker (must refine his pass drop depth and open his hips quicker to come out of his breaks.

Compares To: SHAUN PHILLIPS-San Diego … Earlier in his career, Phillips struggled trying to play with his hand down at the NFL level. When the Chargers moved him to linebacker, they found a dominant force that could also attack the backfield and pressure the pocket. If some NFL team takes that lesson learned by the Chargers and shows patience letting Avril develop at strong-side linebacker, they could be rewarded with a Phillips clone. There is no question that he has the speed to cover receivers in the short-to-intermediate area and if he's not getting pounded by offensive linemen that outweigh him by 50-80 pounds on every play, his level of play could rival that of Phillips and another former Boilermaker, Dallas' Anthony Spencer.

Career Notes

Avril's 35.5 stops behind the line of scrimmage place him tied with Craig Terrill (2000-03) in 11th place on the school's career list, topped by Jeff Zgonina (1989-92; 72.0 for 244 yards), Rosevelt Colvin (1995-98; 61.0-272), Shaun Phillips (2000-03; 60.5-238), Keena Turner (1976-79; 58.0-347), Akin Ayodele (1999-2001; 54.0-261), Matt Mitrione (1998-2001; 50.0-162), Anthony Spencer (2003-06; 44.0-207), Jim Schwantz (1988-91; 43.0-240), Ken Loushin (1976-79; 42.0-216) and Tom Kingsbury (1977-80; 38.0-201) … His 13 quarterback sacks are good for 12th in Boilermaker history, ranking behind Shaun Phillips (33.5), Rosevelt Colvin (33.0), Jeff Zgonina (29.0), Akin Ayodele (29.0), Anthony Spencer (21.0), Craig Terrill (20.5), Jim Schwantz (18.0), Ray Edwards (2003-05; 16.0), Rob Ninkovich (2004-05; 16.0), Chike Okeafor (1994-98; 15.0) and Frank Kmet (1988-91; 14.0) …

His three fumble recoveries in 2007 are one shy of the Purdue season-record of four that are shared by Jim Wood (1974), Fred Arrington (1977), Mike Marks (1980), Shaun Phillips (2001, Niko Koutouvides (2001), and Brandon Erwin (2006).

2007 Season

All-Big Ten Conference first-team choice by The NFL Draft Report, adding second-team recognition from the media and honorable mention from the league's coaches … Started all 13 games at left defensive end … Recorded 41 tackles (33 solo), as he led the team with a career-high 6.5 sacks for minus-40 yards … Also led the Boilermakers with 15 stops for losses of 56 yards … His eye for the ball saw him cause four fumbles and he also had three fumble recoveries … Deflected five passes and intercepted another for a 43-yard touchdown return.

2007 Game Analysis

Toledo … Avril had a relatively quiet season opener, making two assisted tackles with a pressure, but he also caused a fumble when he stripped the ball from tailback Jalen Parmele at the Toledo 15 at the start of the third quarter, but the Rockets recovered the ball … Early in the fourth quarter, he killed a 10-play series by pressuring QB Clint Cochran into throwing an incomplete pass, as Toledo then settled for a 44-yard field goal … Head to Head Competition-OT#76-Jan Gewont (6:06-305).

Eastern Illinois … The left end posted two solo tackles with a sack and a pair of stops behind the line of scrimmage … Midway through the third quarter, he leveled tailback Travorus Bess for a 3-yard loss at the EIU 39 and early in the fourth quarter, he sacked Cole Stinson for a 3-yard loss near midfield … Head to Head Competition-OT#73-Anthony Rubican (6:06-289).

Central Michigan … In the first meeting of the two teams in 2007, Avril delivered two solo tackles, a 5-yard sack and two stops for losses of 7 yards, as he recovered a fumble and deflected a pass … He bounced on a fumble by Ontario Sneed at the CMU 19 midway through the first quarter and then sacked QB Dan LeFevour for a 5-yard losds at the CMU 23 with 2:37 left in the second quarter … He batted down a LeFevour pass intended for Justin Hoskins and also tackled Marcel Archer for a 2-yard loss at the end of the third quarter … Head to Head Competition-OT#77-Greg Wojt (6:04-285).

Minnesota … Avril made just two tackles, but he brought the fans out of their seats, when he tipped an Adam Weber third-&-8 pass, reached out with the other hand, grabbed the ball and returned the interception 43 yards for a touchdown to start the second quarter …

Head to Head Competition-OT#79-Matt DeGeest (6:05-277).

Notre Dame … The Boilermaker managed three solo tackles, including a 7-yard sack of QB Evan Sharpley at the Purdue 35 early in the fourth quarter … Head to Head Competition-OT#72-Paul Duncan (6:07-292).

Ohio State … Avril posted six solo tackles, but left the game after he brought down Brandon Saine for a 1-yard loss five minutes into the fourth quarter with a knee sprain … Head to Head Competition-OT#74-Kirk Barton (6:06-310).

Michigan … The defender missed no games due to his knee injury, as he had two hits with a pass deflection and also recovered a fumble after QB Chad Henne was sacked for an 8-yard loss by Keyon Brown at the Michigan 5 midway through the first quarter … He also knocked down a Henne pass intended for Mike Hart at the UM 36 early in the second quarter … Head to Head Competition-OT#71-Mark Ortmann (6:06-297).

Iowa … Avril registered three solo tackles and caused a fumble when he popped the ball out of the hands of tailback Damian Sims that was recovered by Purdue at the Iowa 6, setting up a Boilermaker 30-yard field goal with 1:55 left in the game … Head to Head Competition-OT#71-Seth Olsen (6:05-301).

Northwestern … The Purdue rush end posted two solo tackles, but one resulted in a 7-yard sack of QB C.J. Bacher at the NU 30 early in the first quarter … Head to Head Competition-OT#78-Kurt Mattes (6:06-290).

Penn State … Avril was in on four tackles, including a sack, 1.5 stops behind the line of scrimmage and a fumble recovery, but also suffered a hip pointer in the contest … He sacked QB Anthony Morelli for a 7-yard loss at the PSU 25 on the game's second play from scrimmage … He later assisted in tackling tailback Rodney Kinlaw for a 1-yard loss on a third-&-3 snap at midfield, forcing the Lions to punt halfway through the third quarter … Head to Head Competition-OT#73-Dennis Landolt (6:04-294).

Michigan State … Avril made three solo tackles, taking down tailback Javon Ringer for a 1-yard loss on a fourth quarter run at the MSU 17 … Head to Head Competition-OT#79-Jesse Miller (6:06-307).

Indiana … The left end wreaked havoc in the Indiana backfield, registering four stops for losses of 9 yards, causing a fumble on one of those drag-downs, as he also delivered five solo tackles … Tailback Marcus Thigpen was stopped for a 2-yard loss at the Purdue 33 late in the first quarter and was again leveled by Avril for a 1-yard loss at the start of the second half … QB Kellen Lewis was caught from behind by the Purdue defender for a 2-yard loss on a naked bootleg with 1:31 left in the third frame … With a little over four minutes left in the game, Avril tackled Thigpen for a 1-yard loss at the IU 36, causing a fumble that Purdue's Alex Magee recovered, setting up a 5-yard scoring pass from Boiler-maker QB Curtis Painter to Jake Standeford that tied the game, 24-24, with 3:39 remaining on the game clock … Head to Head Competition-OT#70-Charlie Emerson (6:05-288).

Central Michigan (Motor City Bowl) … Avril closed out his career with three tackles (2 solos), as he assisted on a sack and deflected a pass … Late in the first quarter, he broke up a Dan LeFevour pass intended for Justin Hoskins at the Purdue 38 and later on that series, he joined Keyon Brown in sacking LeFevour for a 2-yard loss … Head to Head Competition-OT#77-Greg Wojt (6:04-285).

2006 Season

Avril started the team's first four gamers at strong-side outside linebacker before shifting to weak-side defensive end for the final 10 contests … He ranked ninth in the Big Ten Conference and second on the team with 15 stops for losses of 65 yards … He tied for second on the squad with six sacks for minus-39 yards and finished third with a career-high 84 tackles (51 solo) … Caused two fumbles and recovered another, as he also deflected six passes and gained five yards on an interception return … Switched from jersey #85 to #32 for his junior campaign.

2005 Season

Avril played in 10 games at strong-side linebacker (wore jersey #85), missing the Wisconsin game with a lower back fracture that would bother him the second half of the season … Started vs. Notre Dame, Iowa, Illinois and Indiana, finishing eighth on the team with 33 tackles (21 solo) and 2.5 stops for losses of seven yards.

2005 GAME Analysis

Credited with three tackles vs. Akron in the season opener … Added six tackles (4 solos), including one for a 6-yard loss vs. Minnesota … Produced seven tackles (4 solos) in his first start for 2005, vs. Notre Dame … Had six tackles (4 solos), taking down tailback Selwyn young behind the line of scrimmage in the Iowa clash … Left the Northwestern game with a back injury, returning two weeks later to deliver three tackles and a stop for a loss in the Penn State clash … Had four tackles vs. Indiana and closed out the season with three solo tackles vs. Indiana.

2005 Game Analysis

Opened the season with seven tackles (four solo), including one for a four-yard loss vs. Indiana State … Added seven tackles (five solo) with two stops for minus-6 yards and returned his first career interception five yards in the Miami (Ohio) clash … Posted seven tackles (4 solos) with two sacks of QB Joey Lynch for minus 17 yards and had a total of three stops behind the line of scrimmage vs. Ball State … Added ten tackles (4 solos) vs. Minnesota and had eight hits (2 solos), including a 6-yard sack of QB Brady Quinn in the Notre Dame game … Followed with a forced fumble vs. Iowa and seven tackles (4 solos), along with a pass break-up vs. Northwestern … Delivered seven tackles (5 solos), including a 7-yard sack of QB John Stocco vs. Wisconsin … Posted seven tackles (5 solos) with 3.5 stops for losses, including an 8-yard sack of QB Anthony Morelli, causing a fumble on the play vs. Penn State … Had just three tackles with a stop for a 1-yard loss, but also caused a fumble that he recovered in the Illinois clash … Deflected four Colt Brennan passes and sacked the QB for a 2-yard loss while making three solo tackles vs. Hawaii … Finished the season with five tackles (4 solos) and a QB pressure vs. Maryland in the Champs Sports Bowl.

2004 Season

Avril played in 12 games as a true freshman, earning starting assignments at strong-side linebacker vs. Iowa, Ohio State, Indiana and Arizona State (Sun Bowl) … Recorded 36 tackles (23 solos) with an assisted sack and three stops for losses of nine yards … Caused one fumble and deflected a pass.

2004 Game Analysis

Finished with six tackles (four solo), including a stop for a loss vs. Northwestern … Made his first career start and had five tackles (4 solos) vs. Iowa … Came up with six tackles (5 solos), including one behind the line of scrimmage vs. Indiana … Registered a season-high seven tackles (3 solos), with a pass break-up and a forced fumble vs. Arizona State in Sun Bowl.

Injury Report

2002: Missed five games during his junior year in high school with a left leg fracture.

2005: Left the Northwestern game (10/15) with a lower back fracture, sitting out the next week vs. Wisconsin (10/22) … Was held out of 2006 spring drills to allow his back to continue to recover (did not undergo surgery).

Agility Tests

Campus: 4.67 in the 40-yard dash … 405-pound bench press … 1,050-pound leg press … 32-inch vertical jump … 33 3/4-inch arm length … 8 1/2-inch hands … Right-handed.

Off-Field Issues

2000: Was charged with indecent exposure in Green Cove Springs, Fla., where he was caught urinating outside his apartment complex. His cousin, who was with him at the time, was trying to be humorous and made a scene, causing neighbors to call the police. He spent one night in a juvenile center.

2005: Was charged with alcohol consumption by a minor at Purdue during the summer after police showed up at a party he was attending due to a noise complaint. All people at the party were given a breath test and Avril tested .02 for alcohol. Avril was given a desk appearance and summoned to court, where he paid a $500 fine and charges were dropped.

High School

Attended Clay (Green Cove Springs, Fla.) High School, playing football for head coach Jim Reape … Sat out five games during his junior year with a left leg fracture … Named to the Class 3A All-State team by the Florida Sports Writers Association in his final year … Added All-State honors from The Gridiron Report as a defensive end during his senior year, yet, he was rated the 37th-best outside linebacker prospect in the nation by Rivals.com … Was named to the Florida Times-Union Super 24 team and earned All-Conference accolades … As a senior, Avril led the team to an 11-2 record, registering 80 tackles, nine sacks and 11 stops behind the line of scrimmage … Also deflected four passes … In addition to competing on the gridiron, he lettered in basketball, track and field and weightlifting.


Retail Management major … Born Clifford Samuel Avril on 4/08/86 … Resides in Green Cove Springs, Florida.


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