40: 4.80 (estimated)
A good run defender that shows good power and pop as a tackler. Does a good job when he works downhill and does a nice job wrapping up at the point of attack. Does a nice job stepping up and filling running lanes. Has the strength and ability to take on blockers and shed them. Shows decent instincts to make up for lack of ideal speed. Keeps things in front of him when working in coverage. Shows some burst off the edge as a blitzer, but does a nice job using a power move as an interior defender.
Has limited speed and lacks ideal burst in space. Can get caught overpursuing and out of position when he's asked to play in space. Struggles to make plays outside the hashmarks. Lacks hips and burst when working in man coverage. Doesn't consistently do a good job taking on blockers on the second level. Needs to do a better job getting through traffic and getting off blocks. At times, he'll wait to meet the ballcarrier rather than attacking.
Dent is a tough, hard-nose run defender. He played on the strongside early in his career, but moved full-time to the middle in 2009. He missed a big chunk of his junior year with a hamstring injury. This past year he was at his best as MLB in their 3-4 scheme with 126 tackles, 6.5 for loss, 2.5 sacks, and 2 forced fumbles.
Dent projects well as an interior guy in a 3-4 scheme. He is a productive player that is a good run defender and flashes some ability as a blitzer and pass rusher. But his lack of speed, less than ideal awareness, and limited ability in coverage probably put a cap on how good an NFL player he can be. His ability to develop will depend on his ability to contribute on special teams right off the bat. I think he should be fine in that regard, and in three or four years he could make a nice ILB in a 3-4. Although he'll probably need to add a bit more muscle. He's not going to be a playmaker, nor is he a guy likely to hold a starting position for more than a year or two, but he can be a nice stopgap option for some team. Ultimately, he's probably a career backup and how long he sticks is how good a special teams player he is.
Dent could be a decent backup MLB option to Lofton, although he is not a great fit playing in Atlanta's 4-3 scheme. His potential to contribute on the Falcons is probably the same as Tony Gilbert's was, in that he would play almost exclusively on special teams. He would add depth, but doesn't project well enough to the outside to think he could be a serious contender there.
For a 3-4 team looking for a backup inside guy that can potentially be developed as a starter, Dent might merit a late sixth or seventh round pick.
1-poor, 2-weak, 3-above average, 4-very good, 5-elite
Point of Attack: 3.0
Pass Rush: 2.5
Scouting reports of the linebackers in the 2011 Draft.
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