Draft 2016 – Pick #5: Josh Forrest, ILB, Kentucky

Ruolo: Inside Linebacker College: Kentucky – Classe: Senior

Età: 21 – Altezza: 6’3 (192 cm) – Peso: 249 (113 kg)

Forrest signed with UK as a wide receiver before making the transition to defense as a hybrid linebacker/safety as a true freshman. He flashed in limited duty the next two seasons but took off at inside linebacker in 2014, starting all 12 games and pacing the Wildcats with 110 tackles (including 63 solos), as well as eight tackles for loss and two interceptions.
His numbers dropped slightly in 2015 (93 tackles, six tackles for loss, 3.5 sacks and two interceptions) though with standout edge rushers Bud Dupree (Pittsburgh Steelers) and Za’Darius Smith (Baltimore Ravens) now in the NFL, opposing offenses were left to key on Forrest in 2015. His combination of agility and length (including 32 7/8″ arms) turned heads at the Senior Bowl.
While perhaps lacking ideal instincts for inside linebacker, Forrest’s production and intriguing traits could help him join his former teammates as a surprisingly early pick this spring.
STRENGTHS: Forrest still looks a bit more like a receiver (or tight end) than a traditional ‘thumper inside linebacker. He sports a relatively lanky, athletic frame, and his best attribute may be his acceleration as Forrest’s speed and aggression make him a nice fit in coach Mike Stoops’ scheme and potentially in the NFL.
He possesses impressive burst and closing speed for his size once he locates the ball – traits which could intrigue special teams coaches. Flashes physicality in taking on blockers. Boosted his cause by impressing with his overall athleticism at the Senior Bowl, including when he was asked to attack as an edge rusher, showing an intriguing combination of burst and bend off the corner.
WEAKNESSES: He needs to develop greater functional strength to shed blockers and his relative inexperience at the position is clear on tape, as too often he’s fooled by misdirection.

Forrest is understandably a bit slow to diagnose the action. Too often is passive at the point of attack, spinning off would-be blockers yards downfield rather than forcing the action near the line of scrimmage. Further, Forrest prefers to grab hold and drag down ballcarriers rather than striking them, wrapping securely with both arms and bringing his hips in textbook form.
IN OUR VIEW: Forrest possesses many of the traits scouts are looking for at the next level, though he remains raw after beginning his football career as a junior in high school. He possesses the upside worthy of gambling but remains more potential than production at this point and therefore requires some patience.
–Rob Rang (@robrang) (2/13/16) – CBSSports.com

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