Hartsfield often plays like an uncaged beast, but that’s by design. With all due respect to the turtle that his school uses for a mascot, Hartsfield has a fascination with tigers and other wild animals, even having a large tattoo inked of a tiger jumping out of his chest. He plays with the intensity of the jungle cat, adding versatility to play inside or outside to his toolbox, which makes him a potential steal in the middle rounds of the draft as a swing linebacker capable of stepping in at multiple positions.
The Raleigh product was projected as one of the top inside linebackers in his recruiting class, but actually got his chance to shine at weak-side linebacker as a redshirt freshman, starting seven games (64 tackles, 6.5 for loss, 3.5 sacks) while missing two with a broken left wrist that he attempted to play through before deciding surgery was the logical option. He stayed at Will for all 13 games as a sophomore, racking up 88 stops, 6.5 for loss and getting his first interception. Despite getting bitten by the injury bug again in 2011 (missed three games with an undisclosed leg issue), he earned honorable mention All-ACC notice as a nine-game starter (five in the middle, four on the weak side) and ranked fifth in the FBS with 12 tackles per game (108 total, seven for loss).
Solidly-built, athletic linebacker who is used all over the field, including as a pass rushing linebacker in a three man front and inside linebacker in nickel situations. Able to trail and shadow running back going to the flat from inside linebacker spot. When he chooses to, offers a nice chest press with length. Recognizes screens and looks to attack a lead blocker. Lots of movement presnap, free to roam the second level. Looks to wrap up ball carrier rather than leading with shoulder.
Does not use length on first contact off the edge consistently. Needs to attack awaiting blocker when blitzing, instead tends to tip toe. Gets lost in misdirection, specifically has difficulties locating the football. Lacks suddenness, stares into the backfield in pass coverage and long strides prevent him from staying with quick moves. Just there in underneath coverage, nothing flashy. Allows blocker into his chest too often and even results in hugging the opposition at times.
Despite missing five games with injuries during his first three years, Hartsfield plays as hard and fast as the tiger he sports as a tattoo on his chest. The 2011 honorable mention All-ACC pick ranked fifth in the FBS with 12 tackles per game as a junior, and regularly attacks the backfield whether at the Mike or Will position (17 career tackles for loss). He projects as a Saturday draft pick who will at least fill a role as a special teams demon and swing ‘backer capable of starting at multiple positions later in his career.
Future Hall of Famer
A once-in-a-generation type prospect who could change how his position is played
An impact player with the ability/intangibles to become a Pro Bowl player. Expect to start immediately except in a unique situation (i.e. behind a veteran starter).
A quality player who will contribute to the team early on and is expected to develop into a starter. A reliable player who brings value to the position.
A prospect with the ability to make team as a backup/role player. Needs to be a special teams contributor at applicable positions. Players in the high range of this category might have long-term potential.
A player with solid measurables, intangibles, college achievements, or a developing skill that warrants an opportunity in an NFL camp. In the right situation, he could earn a place on a 53-man roster, but most likely will be a practice squad player or a camp body.