2015 NFL Draft Profile: Dante Fowler Jr, LB Florida

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Florida linebacker Dante Fowler Jr. is a very interesting prospect.  He reminds me in a lot of ways of 2014 Vikings first round draft pick Anthony Barr.  Fowler’s raw ability and physical gifts make him a great prospect for teams looking for a linebacker that can blitz or pursue ball carriers.

But perhaps the biggest strength of Dante Fowler Jr. is his speed.  Not only is he physically fast, but he’s quick in many aspects of the word.  He’s fast off the snap and can use a variety of power or finesse moves to shed blockers.  Because of this ability, many experts see him as most valuable in a 3-4 defense where he can play the edge, but people said the same thing about Anthony Barr who seems to be adjusting well to a 4-3 defense.

Fowler will have to work on his football IQ at the next level.  He can make mistakes over pursuing ball carriers and take some bad angles at times, but those are things that can be coached and could even come instinctually after settling into a role for an NFL team.

Nov 15, 2014; Gainesville, FL, USA; Florida Gators defensive lineman Dante Fowler Jr. (6) against the South Carolina Gamecocks during the second quarter at Ben Hill Griffin Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

Combine Measurables:

  • Height: 6’3″
  • Weight: 261 pounds
  • Arm Length: 33.75″
  • Hand Size: 9.5″
  • 40 Yard Dash: 4.6 seconds
  • Bench Press: 19 reps
  • Vertical Jump: 32.5″
  • Broad Jump: 112″
  • 3 Cone Drill: 7.4 seconds
  • 20 Yard Shuttle: 11.89 seconds

Draft Projection

Dante Fowler, Jr. is currently listed as CBS Sports #4 overall prospect and #1 linebacker.  He should be a top 10 pick at the 2015 NFL Draft as well as the first linebacker selected.

Fit For The Vikings

Minnesota could look to upgrade at linebacker with Chad Greenway’s status in question, but with other players stepping up like Anthony Barr, Gerald Hodges, and Audie Cole, the Vikings might not see linebacker as a big enough need to address with a first round selection.

My Take

While I like Dante Fowler Jr. a lot, I don’t see him filling a need for the Vikings.  They already have a player to fill what his role would be for the team that Minnesota used a first round draft pick on just last season.  If Minnesota does go linebacker with their first pick, expect it to be a trade down situation or a middle linebacker since Jasper Brinkley is a free agent.

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