An all-state pick as a defensive lineman and tight end from Spokane (he was born at Fairchild Air Force Base there), Long decided to stay in eastern Washington to play for the Cougars. And whether he’s lined up at defensive end or linebacker for head coach Paul Wulff, who had spent eight years at Eastern Washington before coming to Pullman, the three-time all-conference pick makes an impression on opposing offenses – and NFL scouts.
Even as a true freshman, Long was given honorable mention notice from conference coaches because he racked up 47 tackles, 6.5 for loss, two sacks while starting all 12 games. He again earned those accolades and started every game in 2010, increasing his production (51 tackles, 10.5 for loss, four sacks, three pass break-ups). Though he had surgery on his shoulder in the spring of 2011, he excelled in his junior year, garnering second-team All-Pac-12 honors with 12 tackles for loss and four sacks. As a senior, Washington State moved to a 3-4 defense, and he played the “Buck” end/linebacker hybrid position.
Versatile performer who plays with his hand on the ground and as a stand-up pass rusher. Intelligent and instinctual, usually contains on the edge and sniffs out screens and bootlegs well. Flashes quick and strong hands to pop off blocks outside, can also spin out of blocks when needed. Works hard to hold the line as a defensive end. Possesses enough short-area agility to handle coverage duties as a linebacker, also physical against running backs and tight ends in space. Bullish pass rusher, gets his hands on his man’s numbers to drive him backwards. Most sacks comes from his relentless effort. Hustles down the line and across the field to involve himself in plays run away from him. Solid tackler, wraps the torso with authority and works hard to drag down the ballcarrier.
Not a physically dominating defender. Lean build for a defensive end, stronger tackles win in the upper-body battles on the edge. Gets knocked off his route fairly easy with a big punch, does not bring a ton of power to his own punch. Flexibility and get-off are not exceptional, does not have an elite first step or turn the corner with regularity. Straight-speed and agility will be tested when covering NFL tight ends in space.
This eastern Washington native stayed in the Palouse to play for the Cougars, and has earned all-conference honors and started every game since his redshirt freshman season. Though not elite in his strength or athleticism, he has good short-area agility and fits the profile of many mid-to-late round 3-4 linebackers who use their instincts and toughness contribute heavily in the NFL.
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.