PROS: Has good straight-line speed and can make plays in pursuit. Shows a nice first step with speed to challenge the corner. Is an effective tackler that can wrap up. Shows a good motor.
CONS: Runs around blockers and lacks the moves to beat them because once they get their hands on him he's negated. Doesn't seem to change direction well and is a straight-line guy. Needs to improve his recognition and can get caught out of positions when playing outside contain. Lacks pop as a tackler is more of a drag-down guy that needs to get better at the point of attack. Needs to improve in coverage.
OVERVIEW: Sapp tore his ACL in his right knee at the end of the 2008 season, which likely prevented him from coming out last year. I graded him as a solid second round pick after that year. He indicated at the Combine that it wasn't fully healed (60% according to him), which might explain why I was less-impressed with him as a senior. He had 15 tackles for loss and 5 sacks and 17 pressures as a senior which is impressive if it's true about the health of his knee. Was a three-year starter that for his career had 41 tackles for loss, 16 sacks, and 54 pressures.
NFL FORECAST: Sapp isn't likely to be a sack-artist at the next level, as he never had more than 5 sacks in a season. But he can get pressure on the QB. He's not really a great fit to play on the line in the pros since he's undersized and won't be a threat off the edge even in a situational role. He might be decent there, but not a guy that is a regular player with his hand on the ground. He's just too small, and NFL linemen are too physical for him. Instead, he'll have to concentrate on playing LB. And I think he might be a better fit in a 4-3 than a 3-4 because he won't be a highly productive pass rusher. The issue with him is going to be whether or not he can be an impact defender vs. the run and pass. I saw more athleticism out of him as a junior before his knee injury, but not as much as a senior. I guess that could also be attributed to the knee. I think he'll be a solid starter, but not sure he'll be a guy that is considered an impact starter. I'm thinking more like a player that Steve Foley was. While Foley did have one 10-sack season in San Diego, most years he averaged around 40 tackles and 4 sacks a year. Which isn't bad, but nothing special.
ATL FORECAST: Sapp would push Nicholas as a SAM linebacker. And while he has better speed and range than Nicholas, I'm not convinced how much more effective he would be in that role. He wouldn't be a significant upgrade in coverage. And while he has more speed to use as a blitzer and pass rusher, I'm not sure he's going to be signfiicantly more productive than Nicholas was. I do think that he would probably take the job from Nicholas, probably after a year of watching him. But I wouldn't be expecting him to turn into the next Julian Peterson in Atlanta.
VALUE: Not sure he will have the sort of production that one expects out of a Top 50 pick. So I'd rather take him in the late second or early third.
1-poor, 2-weak, 3-above average, 4-very good, 5-elite
POINT OF ATTACK: 2.0
PASS RUSH: 3.5
"Vincere scis, Hannibal, victoria uti nescis" -- Maharbal, 216 B.C.E.