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LaVar Arrington, OLB, Penn State
Height: 6-2 Weight: 240 Speed: 4.4
Profile by Al Sray
Amazing athletic ability. There is no other phrase that can better describe LaVar Arrington. The 1999 Butkus and Bednarik Awards winner has used his incredible athletic ability to accomplish just about everything a linebacker can at the college level.
The question remains: will he declare himself eligible for the draft? A sure-fire top-5 pick, Arrington has clashed with Joe Paterno on several occasions over the past couple of seasons.
Jerry Sandusky has always been the man to smooth things over. Arrington sees Penn State's defensive coordinator as a mentor, and his retirement will surely be a factor in Arrington's decision.
College: The 6 ft, 2 inch, 240-pounder is the next in a long line of top quality players to be produced at "Linebacker U." He may very well be the best of the bench. So far in 1999, he has registered 10 sacks and 20 tackles for losses.
Despite the fact that he faced offensive schemes designed to negate his abundance of athletic ability, he finished his career with 39 tackles for losses. Still, he has benefited from having Courtney Brown and Brandon Short, two other potential first-round draft picks, around him.
His clashes with Joe Paterno, especially early in the 1999 season, received attention nationwide. Paterno downplayed Arrington's contributions to the defense and insinuated that Arrington had a long way to go before he reached the level of some of the great linebackers that proceeded him at Penn State.
At times, Arrington seemed to take some plays off, which probably explained Paterno's comments. Still, he proved to be the best linebacker in the country this past year, despite those lapses.
Pro Potenial: Some of the plays that Arrington has made the past few years have been draw-dropping, plain and simple. It has not been uncommon to Arrington jump over blockers on his way into the backfield. He has been timed at 4.4 in the 40, which makes him as fast as most running backs and wide receivers.
He definitely showed the ability to take over games with those physical tools. His quickness off the edge proves that his 40 time is definitely functional, football speed. He has been compared to Lawrence Taylor by some around the National Football League because of that speed and quickness.
Besides his ability to rush the passer, Arrington has also showed that he can drop into pass coverage, a definite necessity in dealing with the NFL offensive schemes he will face.
Still, the comparison to Lawrence Taylor won't become valid unless Arrington proves that he can maintain his intensity over an entire game. Criticisms that he occasionally took a play or series off are valid.
He also must improve his strength at the point of attack. At times, he didn't do a good job of getting off of blocks when plays were run directly at him.
He will also need to develop more effective pass rushing techniques at the next level. He won't be able to run around every offensive tackle in the NFL on his way to the quarterback.
The verdict: There is no doubt that Arrington would benefit from another year at Penn State. Still, all of his shortcomings can be improved with a little more discipline and a year in a pro teams strength and conditioning program.
The only thing that will keep Arrington from becoming a perennial All-Pro is himself.
If he makes himself available for the 2000 draft, he will be the top ranked linebacker, and most likely won't slip past the third pick.
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