The Top Small School ILB in the Nation; Javahn Fergurson is a Fit in Washington
In the NFL, late round prospects from the small school level often make up a teams’ core. During film sessions here at The Burgundy and Gold Report, we came across one particular prospect that Redskins’ fans should start to follow during the draft process. That player is New Mexico State, Inside Linebacker, Javahn Fergurson. The Aggie linebacker was eager to participate in a Q&A session so readers would have an opportunity to see what makes him tick. He also revealed that his best friend, growing up, is a current Redskins fan favorite.
Fergurson grew up in Baton Rouge, LA and attended Southern Laboratory High School. Fergurson was named All-State, All-District and All-Metro earning 1A MVP. In addition, he earned The Max Emfinger All-American honors.
During his time at New Mexico State, Fergurson led the nation in tackles per game in 2018 with 13.2 tackles per game. For his career, Fergurson totaled 336 total tackles, 21.5 tackles for a loss and 8.5 sacks. Between ’18-’19 the linebacker had his best production, registering 257 tackles, 15 tackles for a loss and 5.5 sacks
Draft Projection and Intangibles
Javahn Fergurson‘s draft projection ranges from 6th round-UDFA, depending on who you talk to. One thing is certain; he checks the boxes for an NFL inside linebacker coming in at 6’1″ 230 lbs with 30 1/2 ” arms and a 73 3/4″ wingspan. Most evaluators expect him to run the forty in the 4.6 sec range at his pro day and an invite to the NFL Combine isn’t out of the question.
Pre-Snap Recognition– Fergurson displays impressive mental processing and speed to be a productive NFL ILB. He shows the patience to diagnosis run/pass and has a keen eye for quarterback pre-snap tells. His leadership attributes and ability to line up his teammates in the right position are second to none.
Pursuit & Instincts– The NM State ILB displays a relentless motor whenever he’s on the field. He flows to the ball with urgency which stands out on his tape. You won’t see wasted movement from the young linebacker who is seemingly always around the ball forcing offenses to account for him on every play.
Tackling– The Aggie linebacker is an excellent tackler who consistently wraps up ball carriers, rather than going for the highlight pop. Fergurson’s technique is polished and textbook. The weight/strength gains during his senior year were evident and aided his ability to shed blocks. You’d be hard-pressed to find tape of the inside linebacker missing an open field tackle or getting washed out in the run game.
Against the Run– This might be one of Fergurson’s best attributes as an inside linebacker and is at his best when fighting through would-be blockers. He has an innate ability to force ball carriers to reverse field when sealing the edge. Fergurson is a film room junkie and it shows when diagnosing pre-snap run concepts, seemingly always one step ahead of the ball carrier.
In Coverage– During his senior year it was evident that coaches put more emphasis on improving Fergurson’s coverage technique which led to him dropping into coverage more often. When dropping, Fergurson shows patience while diagnosing the play and has steadily improved at reading the quarterbacks. This certainly will aid his transition to the next level.
Getting to Know Fergurson Q&A
B&G Report-Your instincts seem to be one of your best attributes. Do you agree and what do you feel you need to improve on to take your game to the next level in the NFL?
“Instincts are definitely my best attribute. I take pride in that. I’ve been playing tackle football since I was 3 years old. That’s a lot of football. I love diagnosing a play, it takes the confidence from an offense.“
B&G Report-As a small school prospect you’ll be expected to earn your stripes on Special Teams, on the next level. What separates you from the other Inside Linebackers you’ll be competing against?
I love special teams. You could change a game on special teams. The game is all about tackling in open field and getting the football, I feel as if I can do that as well as anybody in the NFL in time. Plus nobody will out hustle me.
B&G Report-What NFL players inspire you and why?
“My best friend Derrius Guice of course. One of the most resilient and talented players I know. Linebacker wise I love the speed Darius Leonard plays with. I feel as if that is the way I play.“
Fit in Washington
The Redskins’ defensive philosophy change to the 4-3 defense puts the linebacker situation into question. Fans had high expectations for linebacker Reuben Foster who has dealt with suspensions and off the field drama in San Francisco. He then missed the entire 2019 season for Washington when he went down with a knee injury in OTA’s. The latest news regarding nerve issues in Foster’s foot is unsettling, to say the least, so this season is very much in question for the fourth-year linebacker, who was expected, by many, to be the starting MIKE linebacker in Del Rio’s scheme.
Youngsters Cole Holcomb, Shaun Dion Hamilton, Josh Harvey-Clemons and Ryan Anderson round out the linebacking group, so the door should be wide open for a free agent and/or a rookie linebacker to make the roster.
Fergurson showed mental and physical growth every season at NM State and bulked up to 230 lb during his Senior year which has intrigued some talent evaluators. Fergurson would add depth to the linebacking room with the versatility to line up at both the WILL and MIKE. His leadership qualities and instincts are just what Special Teams Coordinator, Nate Kaczor, covets
The primary knock on Fergurson, during the draft process, will undoubtedly be the level of competition he faced while at New Mexico State. This can lead to draft projection uncertainty for scouts and talent evaluators. As mentioned during the Q&A, Fergurson understands the importance of playing special teams and knows this could be his ticket onto an NFL roster. The childhood connection to Redskins running back Derrius Guice is undoubtedly intriguing, but Fergurson’s relentless motor and willingness to do all the little things to help the team make him a possible day 3 steal for Washington in this year’s Draft.
By Adam Aniba
Follow on Twitter @TheBandGreport and follow Javahn Fergurson @JVFerg
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