Photo of Chris Long
Grade
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  • 4.75 SEC
    Top Performer
  • 34.0 INCH
    Top Performer
  • 124.0 INCH
    Top Performer
  • 7.02 SEC
    Top Performer
  • 4.21 SEC
    Top Performer
  • 6'4" Height
  • 275LBS. Weight

Overview

Regarded by many as one of the most dominant defensive players in college football entering his senior season, Long more than lived up to those expectations, terrorizing opposing quarterbacks to the tune of 14 sacks, 23 pressures, nine pass break-ups and an interception in 2007. He also caused a pair of fumbles on sacks that Virginia recovered, leading to Cavaliers scores.

Named the Atlantic Coast Conference Defensive Player of the Year and the recipient of the Ted Hendricks Award (nation's top defensive end), Long has certainly emerged from the shadows of his father, former Oakland Raiders defensive end and Hall of Famer, Howie Long. "You want to talk about a chip off the old block? This is a young man that plays absolutely lights-out football," North Carolina head coach Butch Davis said. "Chris Long has to be one of the premier defensive linemen in the country."

Virginia head coach Al Groh also had nothing but rave reviews on Long, stating, "It's hard to imagine there being a better player at any position than Chris Long. A guy would have to be one of the Transformers to be better than Chris. When you've got one of the best players the school's ever had and he's only interested in helping the team win, it puts an exclamation point on what you're trying to do." Groh was amazed that Chris did not receive more Heisman Trophy consideration: "If they're ever going to invite a defensive player to New York in December for the Heisman Trophy presentation, you'd have to think it was Chris Long."

Long was well-known to college recruiters, especially after a stellar career at St. Anne's-Belfield School, where competed on both lines for the state champion squad. The Super Prep and Prep Star All-American received a four-star prospect rating from Rivals.com, a service that rated him the sixth-best defensive end in the prep ranks. Tom Lemming ranked him eighth in the country at defensive end and College Football News placed him 11th at that position.

Long was a member of Rival.com's Atlantic East Amazing-80 team and he was an honorable mention All-South choice by the Orlando Sentinel. He was named 2003 Gatorade Player of the Year in Virginia and rated as the second-best player in Virginia by the Charlottesville Daily Progress "Gold List," third by the Roanoke Times and fourth by Super Prep and Rivals.com. He was also a three-time first-team All-State selection on offense and defense.

The Central Virginia Defensive Player of the Year by the Daily Progress as a senior, Long was a three-time first-team All-Central Virginia defensive lineman by the Charlottesville Daily Progress and earned first-team All-Central Virginia honors his senior season as an offensive lineman as well. He was selected Conference Defensive Player of the Year his final two seasons and was selected Student Sports Junior All-American in 2002.

Long registered 91 tackles (44 solos) as a senior to help lead his team to an undefeated season and the state championship, as he had 23 tackles for loss and 15 sacks that season. He also recorded 72 pancake blocks on offense. As a junior, he posted 85 tackles with 12 sacks and more than 20 tackles for loss. The three-time first-team All-Conference choice finished his career with 43 sacks and 66 tackles for loss. He also played basketball, lacrosse, and baseball during his high school career, winning the 2003 YMCA Slam Dunk Contest for high school students.

Long would hold the rare distinction of having his jersey retired at St. Anne's Belfield School and also at the University of Virginia, where he played in six games during his freshman year in 2004. He posted five tackles with an 8-yard sack before being sidelined due to a bout of mononucleosis.

As a sophomore, Long took over right defensive end duties, starting all 12 games. He totaled 46 tackles (22 solos) with 1.5 sacks and had 7.5 stops for losses, along with 26 pressures and seven pass deflections in 752 plays. In 2006, he earned All-State honors, helping the team rank 17th in the nation, allowing just 289.5 yards per game in total offense. He collected 57 tackles (32 solos) with 4.5 sacks, adding 9.5 stops behind the line of scrimmage to go with 21 pressures in 715 defensive snaps.

As a senior, Long received countless postseason honors, including consensus first-team All-American and unanimous All-Atlantic Coast Conference first-team accolades. He ranked second on the team with 79 tackles (36 solos). The defensive captain tied for third in the nation with 14 sacks and was 14th nationally with 19 stops for losses. He had 23 pressures with an interception and nine pass deflections while blocking one kick and causing two fumbles.

In 43 games at Virginia, Long started 37 times. He recorded 187 tackles (93 solos) with 70 quarterback pressures, three forced fumbles, a 25-yard interception return and 17 pass deflections. He ranks tied for seventh in school history with 21 sacks for minus-171 yards and is sixth all-time in Virginia annals with 38 stops for losses totaling 211 yards. He also blocked one kick while participating in 2,432 defensive plays.

Analysis

Strengths

Positives: Has long arms and large hands, with good upper body muscle tone, tight waist and hips and shows good lower body thickness...Uses his long reach well to keep blockers away from his body, also utilizing it, along with good timing and leaping ability to bat down a fair share of passes at the line of scrimmage...What sets him apart from most young defensive ends is his keen knowledge of the game and his uncanny ability to read block pressure and quickly locate the ball...Quick-twitch athlete who shows good quickness, agility and flexibility, showing good knee bend...Builds to top acceleration nicely in long pursuit and shows good redirection skills in his pass rush off the edge...Lacks an explosive burst, but has good leverage and reach to separate from blocks and close on the quarterback...Shows solid football instincts and is able to learn and retain information easily, showing the quick instincts to locate the ball through trash...Plays and practices hard and with a purpose, showing good effort and toughness throughout the play...Leads by example, as well as with his voice, as the coaches encourage the younger players to emulate his great work ethic...Can handle tough coaching and is harder on himself than the staff is when he fails to make a play or blows an assignment...Has active hands and feet, showing outstanding quickness off the ball and natural movement ability to close...Comes off the snap with good pad level, getting into the blocker quickly with a solid hand jolt to rock the opponent back on his heels (needs to do a better job of staying on the lead blocker to clog the rush lane, though)...Has very crisp plant-and-drive agility to make quick change of direction moves working down the line...One of his better assets is his lateral agility...Has a good feel for blocks and knows what to do to avoid in pursuit...Defends the run well, using his hands and extending at the point-of-attack, as he has the hand punch to quickly shed blockers and has developed into an efficient, physical, hip-roll tackler working in-line... When he extends his arms (and keeps them active), he plays with good leverage and can hold ground at the point of attack vs. the isolated blocker (struggles some vs. double-teams)...Has better leverage than strength to anchor, knowing how to use his lower body...Has enough size and strength to hold up at the point-of-attack and the flexibility to sit in the crease and hold his ground or get off blocks...When he keeps his hands inside the framework, he can keep separation from the blocker (exposes his chest when his hands get too wide)...Moves very well laterally and displays good effort in pursuit, as he has the knee bend to slip by blockers in-line...High energy type who had better success disengaging in 2007 than he did in the past, thanks to clearing his feet and chasing hard to run down plays in pursuit...Shows adequate flexibility to fight off cut blocks (needs to protect feet better still, but has improved), as he takes good angles when pursuing downfield...Physical tackler who can bend, roll his hips and drive through the ballcarrier...Might not generate explosive hits, but he has the strength to push the pocket...Makes a good effort to arm tackle...His above average lateral quickness is utilized well in his back-side pursuit...Does a good job when asked to wrap up and drag down the ballcarrier in space and he has the functional strength to generate inside pressure vs. offensive line-man's outside shoulder...Shows good body lean coming off the snap and has developed a solid inside counter move to generate pressure...Has the upfield speed, along with swim and rip moves to go with the inside counter and bull rush (asset needed for a potential move to defensive tackle)...Uses flexibility and a good burst to collapse the pocket and displays the quick hands and feet, along with good hip-flex to turn the corner on edge rushes...Can keep separation vs. the run when he uses his hands to control, and when he takes dead aim on the quarterback he shows good intent to get there...With his leverage, he can beat the blocker in and out to close on the passer, as he demonstrates good hand placement and the ability to separate from blockers. Negatives: Lacks suddenness off the snap to surprise a lethargic blocker...Best when taking angles to the quarterback, as he does not have the foot speed to take the wide loop in pursuit...Needs to be more active with his hands, especially when executing counter moves, as he struggles to shed when a blocker locks on to his jersey...Susceptible to the low block and needs to do a better job of slipping off double teams (must execute his spin move more)...Might be a better fit as a defensive tackle in a 4-3 alignment, so as not to expose his adequate closing burst...Does not use his reach or counter moves with consistency and can be engulfed by the larger blockers...Plays better on the move (can get stuck on the bigger blockers at the X's). Compares To: AARON KAMPMAN-Green Bay...Like Kampman, Long is not the fastest, nor is he the strongest defensive end you will find. He lacks the blazing speed you look for in an edge rusher and will struggle to shed blocks at times, but like the Packers standout, he has great field savvy, vision and determination. He knows when he needs to avoid blockers rather than try to overpower them, as he really doesn't have that blow-up strength (good, not great) to dominate, anyway. What he does is take good angles in pursuit and display excellent lateral range working down the line. In a scheme that will let him press the outside shoulder of an offensive tackle, he will have good success. With his pad level and in-line instincts, he could also earn quality minutes as a defensive tackle in a 4-3 alignment, but is more ideally suited to play defensive end in a 3-4 formation.
C
Grade Title
9.00-10 Once-in-lifetime player
8.00-8.99 Perennial All-Pro
7.50-7.99 Future All-Pro
7.00-7.49 Pro Bowl-caliber player
6.50-6.99 Chance to become Pro Bowl-caliber player
6.00-6.49 Should become instant starter
5.50-5.99 Chance to become NFL starter
5.20-5.49 NFL backup or special teams potential
5.01-5.19 Better-than-average chance to make NFL roster
5.00 50-50 Chance to make NFL roster
4.75-4.99 Should be in an NFL training camp
4.50-4.74 Chance to be in an NFL training camp
No Grade Likely needs time in developmental league.
NFL News
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