Versatility Is Key for Beavers | NFL Draft


By Adam Aniba


This year's linebacking class features some bonafide game changers, with the versatility to play close to the line, but also drop in coverage. So finding the classic MIKE signal-calling linebacker that can play all three downs, is highly coveted.


University of Cincinnati's Darrian Beavers is an imposing linebacker and was an enforcer for the Bearcats' defense. Although not as highly coveted as projected 1st round linebackers Nakobe Dean (article) or Devin Lloyd, Beavers is a prospect who'll continue to gain steam during the draft evaluation process. His ability to effectively set the edge or drop into coverage make him an ideal Day 2 difference maker.

Darrian Beavers

6'4" 252 lbs | LB | Cincinnati

3rd Rd Grade


Career UConn (18 games) 38 total tak (24 solo), 7.5 TFL, 7 sacks & 2 PD

Career CIN (38 games) 192 total tak (105 solo), 20 TFL, 6.5 sacks, 3 ints,

1 td, 3 PD, 3 FF & 2 FR

2021 (14 games) 98 total tak (52 solo), 11.0 TFL, 4.0 sacks, 1 int, 1 PD, 2 FF &

2 FR


Background

Beavers attended Colerain HS in Cincinnati, OH. He played two-way football, spending time at receiver and safety. Beavers was voted First Team All-Conference on defense in '15 and '16.


Colerain was a part of an undefeated season in 2016, with the team finishing runner-up in the state. He lettered in basketball and track in addition to graduating with a 4.0 GPA. He also received marginal attention as a 2-Star Prospect.

Beavers accepted an offer to play for University of Connecticut and move to linebacker. During his 18 games with Uconn, his ability was limited to playing closer to the line with his 7.5 sacks to show for it (leading the team in sacks in '18).


In '19, Beavers transferred to the University of Cincinnati, starting 10 of 14 games. Beavers made his presence felt immediately, registering 36 tackles, 1.5 for a loss and 2 quarterback hurries. He was also named to the AAC All-Academic Team.


He also took advantage of the extra year of eligibility, due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Electinglecting to play one more year for the Bearcats in '21 paid off earning First-Team All-ACC accolades.


Versatility Is Key

In the Bearcats' defense, Beavers was deployed to attack the passer, but also matchup against tight ends. His role was pivotal in zone coverage as well. He wore many hats on the overachieving Bearcats defense, being utilized as a WILL, MIKE and SAM linebacker.


Beavers is as well-rounded and as experienced as they come, playing in 56 career games with Uconn and UCIN. His ability to pose a threat close to the line or in coverage, forces offenes to deviate from their game plan.


Beavers is a truly a scheme versatile linebacking prospect, who can line up as a 3-4 OLB or play any of the linebacker spots in a base 4-3. He's extremely cerebral with a deep understanding of modern offensive concepts and how to defend against them.


His attributes truly make him an ideal candidate to man the MIKE linebacker spot on the next level. His ability to always know where to line up his teammates and understanding of situational football.


Beavers understands how to effectively utilize his length and anticipation skills, which will make up for some of the potential growing pains he experiences as a rookie linebacker.


Although Beavers was a force playing the run, he displayed how offenses had to account for him as a pass rusher, in addition to accounting for him in pass coverage.



Pros

  • Combination of size, length and explosiveness jump out (81 inch wingspan)

  • A savage vs the run displaying sound tackling technique

  • Excels in zone coverage and serviceable in man

  • Versatility is evident with multiple roles in the Bearcats' defense

  • Non-stop motor, plays every snap like it's his last

  • High IQ prospect with Pro ready awareness


Cons

  • Change of direction instincts need refinement (minor concern)

  • Ability to rush the passer, but raw and lacks bend (needs refinement)

  • Should be stronger for a prospect his size

  • Can get stonewalled by O-linemen and can struggle to disengage

  • Man coverage needs refinement, especially facing smaller/quicker receiving targets


Final Thought

Evaluators will question what Beavers' true linebacking role on the next level will be, but his ceiling is high regardless. His football IQ and overall intelligence speak to his value as a developmental middle linebacker.


As a projected 3rd rounder, a plan and patience will be needed with the Bearcats linebacker. Teams looking for a versatile linebacker, would be hard pressed to find one with Beavers combination of size, speed and ability, still available in the 3rd round.

*Games Watched- 9/4 vs Miami (OH), 9/11 vs S.Murray St, 9/18 vs Indiana,

10/2 vs ND, 10/8 vs Temple, 10/16 UCF,10/23 vs Navy, 11/6 vs Tulsa,11/26 vs E.Carolina, 12/4 vs Houston & 12/31 vs Alabama (Cotton Bowl)



*Team Fits- WAS,NE,PHI,MIA,NYJ,DEN,TENN & CLE


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