Texas Tech Senior
Active run defender that likes to mix it up. Has good size and strength to take on and shed blockers. Can make the stop at the point of attack. Shows ability to get upfield and make stop. Decent in pursuit. Shows some ability to drop in zone and make the play underneath.
Lacks speed and limited in space and in pursuit. Gets stuck in the trash too often when playing in pursuit. Not always quick to take on and shed blocks at the second level, particularly when working vs. outside run.Seems stiff at times in coverage and not going to make a ton of impact plays there. Tackles a bit too high at times and doesn't do a great job always breaking down at the point of attack. Won't always deliver hit to ballcarrier, and whiffs on stops. Is limited as a blitzer because of average burst upfield and doesn't really know how to use his hands.
Bird is a massive interior run defender that does a pretty good job when you run the ball between the tackles. But when you get him outside the hashmarks and in space, you see his limitations. And despite his king size, he's not a guy that is going to dominate runners at the point of attack. He really shined as an inside linebacker in their 3-4 scheme as a senior, leading team with 106 tackles. Also had 5 tackles for loss, 1 sack, 3 picks, and 2 pass breakups. Two previous years as a starting SAM linebacker, he combined for 120 tackles, 9.5 for loss, 2 sacks, and 5 breakups.
Bird has the size you like as an inside linebacker in the 3-4 scheme. He is a capable run stuffer, although he's not quite dominant as you'd like in a player his size. He's a capable athlete as well and while he's less effective in pursuit and space, he does have the athleticism to get by there. He can stick in the pros as a reserve because teams will like his size and toughness. And if he can produce early on special teams, he can stick as a reserve inside linebacker. If he gets comfortable enough with a system and is playing beside a rangy, dynamic MLB, then he can be a decent stopgap starter. He'll still be limited in coverage, won't make very many plays as a blitzer, but you three or four years down the road you could probably get by with him as your starter for a season or so.
Bird isn't a great fit in Atlanta unless the Falcons want to move him back to SAM linebacker and play him close to the line of scrimmage. He has the size and enough speed to be an OK matchup against tight ends, but he'll struggle when left on an island there and isn't rangy enough to really think he can be significant effective in zone coverage. He can help take on blockers and help out the run game on the outside, but he's not going to be an impact playmaker. HIs upside is much more limited in a 4-3 scheme like Atlanta's because of his inconsistency to make plays in space. He might be a decent backup if he can play on special teams, but eventually you'll find rangier, more explosive players to replace him.
For a 3-4 team looking for depth, he is on the cusp of being a potential seventh round pick. But because of limited upside, you'd much rather have him as an undrafted free agent.
1-poor, 2-weak, 3-above average, 4-very good, 5-elite
Point of Attack: 2.5
Pass Rush: 2.0
Scouting reports of the linebackers in the 2011 Draft.
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