Ohio State Senior
40: 4.60 (estimated)
Shows good speed and plays fast and physical. Shows ability to cover a lot of ground and make plays in pursuit. Does a good job making stops in the open field and at the point of attack. Shows good instincts vs. the run and does a good job sniffing out plays. Rarely caught out of position and can clean up plays that teammates miss. Willing to take on blocks, and shows some ability to get off blocks despite his lack of size. Gets upfield and does a good job attacking the ball in the hole and can make plays in the backfield. Has good burst and potential as an interior blitzer. Gets nice depth in zone coverage and shows range there.
Lacks ideal size and cane get pushed around at the point of attack and miss some stops there. May need some more work in man coverage.
Rolle was the successor for James Laurinaitis in the middle at Ohio State. He's not very big, but plays bigger than his size would merit and offers the speed, instincts, and toughness to be able to play in multiple schemes at the next level despite his size issues. Had his best year as a senior with 76 tackles, 11.5 for loss, 2.5 sacks, and 2 picks. His cousin is Antrel Rolle.
I think Rolle can ultimately play in any scheme at the next level. But at least immediately, he probably projects best playing WILL linebacker in a 4-3 scheme, particularly a Tampa-2 scheme. There he'd be asked to play in space, work in zone, two areas that he does well in and his lack of size won't be a major issue since that scheme prefers smaller, fast players. But ultimately I do think if he goes to a 4-3 team, he could be moved to the middle. He somewhat reminds me of other undersized MLBs like London Fletcher or DeMeco Ryans in that over time, he could bulk up and he has the sort of instincts, speed, and range that NFL teams often covet at MLB. And like Fletcher, ultimately, I think he can also be able to play inside in a 3-4 scheme as well. But more than likely, that future of manning the middle probably won't come on his initial rookie contract. I suspect whoever drafts him will play him on the weakside, and then when he hits free agency, teams will begin to tinker with the idea of possibly moving him to the middle. But he's good enough to come in right away and be a starter at OLB in a 4-3 scheme and can eventually develop into an interior defender. I'm not convinced that he'll be a top-notch impact player, but I think he's a smart, heady defender that won't make a ton of mistakes and if teamed with another good linebacker, he can be something like a poor man's Jon Beason, another guy that isn't known for his size.
Rolle would be a good fit in Atlanta since he could allow the team to keep Weatherspoon at SAM linebacker, and he could fill in immediately as a potential starter at WILL linebacker, preventing the team from having to keep or start Stephen Nicholas. But I also think he could be a good insurance policy to have alongside Weatherspoon in case Curtis Lofton doesn't make the necessary strides in coverage in the coming years. Between him and Spoon, one of them could develop into a potential replacement for Lofton in the middle, since they have more range and less liable to give up plays in coverage. Rolle would be a good addition in Atlanta because he could potentially step in right away and replace Lofton on nickel downs. Ultimately I think Rolle is a better fit to be a MLB than Lofton since he's better at the point of attack. But he would probably need at least a year or two to add some more muscle before he could even think about challenging Lofton in that area. But even if he never moves to the middle, he could be a good fit in Atlanta as a starting OLB because he won't be as impactful as Lofton or Spoon, but is similar a fast, physical guy and will help improve the Falcons coverage abilities at the position.
Rolle is a solid third round option for any team looking for a linebacker. For a team that is looking for a guy that can immediately stick as a starting WILL candidate, a Tampa-2-based team might even think about snagging him in the latter part of the second round.
1-poor, 2-weak, 3-above average, 4-very good, 5-elite
Point of Attack: 3.0
Pass Rush: 3.0
Scouting reports of the linebackers in the 2011 Draft.
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