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Photo of Jonathan Casillas
Jonathan Casillas (OLB)
Height: 6'1"
Weight: 228
College: Wisconsin
Conference: Big Ten
Hometown: New Brunswick, NJ
High School: New Brunswick
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  1. Overview
  2. Analysis
Overview

The scrappy weak-side linebacker was the pulse of the Badgers defense ever since he was inserted into the lineup as a sophomore. In his first season as a starter, he sparked a unit that ranked fifth in the nation and led the Big Ten Conference in total defense (253.08 ypg) and finished second nationally in scoring defense (12.08 ppg).


But they sorely missed their field general in 2008, as Casillas missed the first two games and postseason action while playing the rest of the year at less than 100 percent due to a fall camp knee injury that required surgery in December. That led to a squad that finished 37th nationally in total defense (329.08 ypg) and 66th in scoring defense (26.54 ppg).


Casillas was a 190-pound dynamo at New Brunswick High School. He was a member of Super Prep's New Jersey Top 35 team, adding first-team All-State, All-County and County Defensive Player of the Year honors in 2004. The team captain and MVP recorded 90 tackles, including 20 stops behind the line of scrimmage and sixteen sacks as a senior.


Casillas also excelled as a receiver, as he also made 20 catches for 410 yards and eight touchdowns in 2004. For his career, he registered 228 tackles, 36 sacks, 50 stops for loss, 11 forced fumbles and nine fumble recoveries. He earned a combined 10 letters in track, football and basketball.


Casillas enrolled at Wisconsin in 2005 and made an immediate impact on special teams. He also saw brief action behind senior LaMarr Watkins at strong-side outside linebacker, despite weighing in at just 200 pounds. He recorded 10 tackles (3 solos), assisting on a stop behind the line of scrimmage. He also blocked two punts for a total of 38 yards in returns.


Casillas bulked up to 214 pounds in 2006, as he shifted to weak-side outside linebacker and also discarded his 2005 jersey No. 46 for No. 2, wearing that number the rest of his career. He earned All-Big Ten Conference honorable mention as a 13-game starter, ranking third on the team with 83 tackles (53 solos). He provided two sacks and a career-high 12.5 stops behind the line of scrimmage. He blocked another punt that he returned 12 yards for a touchdown and had his first career interception.


Voted one of five team captains as a junior, the Bednarik Award and Lombardi Award Watch List member led the team with a career-high 96 tackles (57 solos). He had one sack among his nine stops for loss and also caused two fumbles while starting all 13 games at weak-side linebacker.


The 2008 season got off to a rough start for Casillas, as he did not play in the first two games vs. Akron and Marshall due to a left knee injury in preseason camp. He started the next 10 games, but underwent arthroscopic surgery in December to repair cartilage and medial collateral ligament damage, missing the Champs Sports Bowl. He still managed to finish third on the squad with 62 tackles (34 solos), adding a sack and six stops behind the line of scrimmage. He also had a 49-yard interception return.


High School

Attended New Brunswick (N.J.) High School, playing football for head coach Jon Quinn...Member of Super Prep's New Jersey Top 35 team, adding first-team All-State, All-County and County Defensive Player of the Year honors in 2004...The team captain and MVP recorded 90 tackles, including 20 stops behind the line of scrimmage and 16 sacks as a senior...Also excelled as a receiver, as he also made 20 catches for 410 yards and eight touchdowns in 2004...For his career, he registered 228 tackles, 36 sacks, 50 stops for loss, 11 forced fumbles and nine fumble recoveries...Earned a combined 10 letters in track, football and basketball.


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Analysis

Positives: Runs to the ball very well and has excellent quickness for a linebacker. A sideline-to-sideline player; can track down quick backs from the opposite side of the field. Safety-like in coverage, able to shadow tight ends and slot receivers. Also handles coverage responsibilities against running backs in the flat or on wheel routes. When running free, he closes fast, brings his hips and is a strong wrap-up tackler. Also uses his long arms to trip up ballcarriers on the move. Was a real force on special teams early in his career because of his speed and tackling ability. Played through knee pain throughout his senior season.


Negatives: Undersized, and some view him as a safety-linebacker "tweener." Not strong enough to get off blocks from linemen or fullbacks, and inconsistent against receivers. Does not keep cut blocks off his knees consistently. Will run around blocks inside instead of taking them on. Has the tools to be a good blitzer, but does not get home often enough. Could be effective in a stack system in which the defensive linemen protect him from blockers. Missed three games in 2008 with a knee injury and had surgery after the season.


Compares To: JARRAD PAGE, Kansas City -- If Casillas is moved to strong safety, his value to an NFL team will probably be much higher than as a weak-side linebacker, where he will be limited to just Cover-2 schemes. He has above average speed for either safety or linebacker and shows excellent sideline-to-sideline range. He plays faster than his timed speed and has a natural feel for tight ends, wide receivers and running backs in their routes. He plays with good instincts and makes plays in space. He will try to fill the rush lanes with no hesitation, but the results are marginal as he is generally mauled by the blockers due to a lack of playing strength. He plays under control and has a short burst to close and plays with good awareness working in the zone. He lacks natural hands for the interception, but he generates good acceleration coming out of his backpedal.


Injury Report

2008: Casillas suffered a left knee medial collateral ligament sprain and cartilage damage in August camp, missing the team's first two games vs. Akron (8/30) and Marshall (9/06). He returned to action vs. Fresno State (9/13), playing in 10 games while wearing a brace. He underwent arthroscopic surgery in December and sat out the Champs Sports Bowl vs. Florida State (12/27).


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