2015 NFL Draft First Look: Hayes Pullard, ILB, USC

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Last week we took a look at ILB Denzel Perryman and broke down some of his strengths and weaknesses. With ILB being a glaring need for the Packers, it is useful to take a look at another inside linebacker.

This week’s first look is at ILB Hayes Pullard from USC. USC has been a pipeline for the Packers at the linebacker position, with both Clay Matthews and Nick Perry hailing from the private west coast school. Pullard is a redshirt senior after sitting out his freshmen year with a knee sprain.

It is important to remember that this is a first look at Pullard, and much can change before the draft.

Hayes Pullard ILB, USC
Ht: 6′1 Wt: 230 lbs
2013 Stats: 94 tackles (44 solo), 5.5 TFL, 6 PD, 1 INT

Pros: Aggressively attacks the line when filling holes; is clever around the line of scrimmage avoiding blockers; adept in dropping back into coverage; can play zone or man; knows how to play the ball as well as the man in coverage; good tackler; above average athleticism.

Pullard does a nice job here of reading the play, moving laterally down the line of scrimmage and shrugging off a blocker to close in on the ball carrier and make the play behind the line of scrimmage.

Here, he does a nice job taking on the block of the guard, winning the leverage battle, extending off the block and is able to make the play on the running back.

This is a tremendous job closing on the football. He is so fast he beat the blockers around the corner, using the proper angle and weaving nicely through traffic to get a tackle for loss.

Again he shows his speed and recognition skills by splitting the two blockers flashing in to trip/slow up the running back. Ideally he would finish this play but he does enough to make sure his teammates can clean up.

Here he shows a nice job staying patient, but more importantly he puts a perfect form tackle on the running back stopping him cold in his tracks.

Cons: Doesn’t time his blitzes all that well; will occasionally fade away from the line of scrimmage; will sometimes just look to take out the blocker as opposed to making the play; could be a little more controlled when attacking; should keep his head up and stay square to the blocker to be able to get off of the block and make a play.

Ideally, he should clean this up in the backfield. But he takes a poor angle and is unable to stop the running back from getting to the open field.

Pullard can get controlled and man handled by bigger offensive lineman when they latch on.

He can get confused on a misdirection play. One would like to see him be more aware of the ball in the backfield.

Overall: Pullard is a very good prospect with several years of productivity at a major college program. Despite being on the smaller side at 230lbs, it doesn’t seem to impact his game. He displays good athleticism and an ability to close in on the football. He shows good awareness when in zone or man coverage and has the ball skills to break up passes. Pullard will attack the line aggressively, but this will lead to missed opportunities. He will occasionally concentrate more on blowing up the blocker as opposed to making he play on the ball carrier. Pullard doesn’t have his blitz timing down but makes up for it with his ability to match up with tight ends and running backs. I think he would fit nicely as a 3-4 ILB in the Packers scheme as someone who can cover and make plays around the line of scrimmage. I was impressed with the couple of games I watched, and am looking forward to him continuing to lead the USC defense.

Thanks to www.draftbreakdown.com for the video content.

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By Cody Bauer

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