Sep 14, 2013; East Hartford, CT, USA; Connecticut Huskies linebacker Yawin Smallwood (33) during the first half of a game against the Maryland Terrapins at Rentschler Field. Mandatory Credit: Mark L. Baer-USA TODAY Sports

2014 NFL Draft Profile: Yawin Smallwood, ILB Connecticut

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Connecticut inside linebacker Yawin Smallwood is one of the most overlooked players in this year’s draft.  Sadly, his style of play isn’t for every team in the NFL.

He stands 6’2″ and weighs in at 246 pounds.  When you think of a man that size, you would be led to believe that he can be a physically intimidating force in the middle, but that isn’t Yawin Smallwood’s game.  Instead, he excels in the passing game, showing good speed and ability to keep up with receivers.

Yawin Smallwood’s struggles in the run game are compounded by his struggle to bring down big bodies.  It isn’t a good sign when a linebacker has more assisted tackles than solo tackles.  Smallwood is definitely a player that needs to be surrounded by a strong surrounding cast to help him grow and develop at the NFL level.

Here are his statistics over 3 years at Connecticut:

  • Nov 23, 2013; Philadelphia, PA, USA; Connecticut Huskies linebacker Yawin Smallwood (33) during the third quarter against the Temple Owls at Lincoln Financial Field. UCONN defeated Temple 28-21. Mandatory Credit: Howard Smith-USA TODAY Sports

    146 solo tackles

  • 332 total tackles
  • 27 tackles for a loss
  • 8.5 sacks
  • 2 interceptions
  • 5 forced fumbles
  • 2 defensive touchdowns

Strengths

  •  Plays big
  • Decent in run support
  • Good in coverage
  • Huge vertical leaping ability

Weaknesses

  • Discipline on fakes
  • Needs to build up muscle
  • Not a thumper
  • Can be slow to pursue ball carriers

Fit For The Vikings

Minnesota needs some major help at linebacker.  They’ll be looking to add depth and potentially starters to the team in this year’s draft.

My Take

Yawin Smallwood is an interesting prospect, but I’m not sure he would fit what Minnesota is trying to do defensively.  I’d expect the Vikings to look for a more physical player to man the linebacker positions than Smallwood.

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