PROS: Uses his hands well when working on the inside move. Shows some ability to make things happen in pursuit. Has a decent first step and recognition.
CONS: Has an inconsistent motor. Lacks speed to beat a guy around the corner. Doesn't always get a good jump off the snap, which hurts him as an edge rusher as well as getting leverage vs. the run. Needs to show more consistent recognition. SHould be better at the point of attack vs. the run and needs to get off blocks better. Doesn't break down well when working in space.
OVERVIEW: He flashes the physical tools, but has been inconsistent, particularly with his discipline and motor. He led the nation in sacks as a sophomore with 16, but since then has combined for only 7. He was suspended for disciplinary reasons in the season opener in 2008. For his career, he has 30.5 tackles for loss and 23 sacks. He was the more highly touted going into last year between him and Kirlew, but has been steady outplayed and outproduced by him the past two seasons.
NFL FORECAST: I have to say that going into the 2008 season, many had pegged Middleton as one of the top pass rushers in the land, but I was very disappointed with his play when I first saw him. And after watching him again this past year, I saw no significant improvement. It's just his motor that kills him. And he doesn't have great burst to be an edge pass rusher. He's really a player that if he has any chance of sticking in the pros, is going to have to bulk up and become a better run stopper. Because he just doesn't have what it takes to be an impact pass rusher which is crazy thing to say about a guy that once led nation in sacks. I think he could be a decent 3-4 defensive end if he was to get bigger. But I think at this point, unless he plays above 280 pounds, he's not going to be a factor in the NFL. I don't see him projecting well to the 4-3, unless he bulks up enough that he can play tackle. He has a chance of impacting somebody's rotation, but even if he's in the league five years from now, it'll likely be as an average reserve.
ATL FORECAST: Unless the Falcons envisioned him as a long-term project at defensive tackle, they should pass on him. His poor motor will make it hard for him to make the team's roster. He might be good enough to land a practice squad spot, but without a major attitude overhaul that's about the best you can hope for.
VALUE: For a team looking for a developmental 3-4 end, I might take him in the seventh round. For a 4-3 team, you're better off passing on drafting him altogether.
"Vincere scis, Hannibal, victoria uti nescis" -- Maharbal, 216 B.C.E.