Isn’t a guy who can consistently take on blocks and stack and shed on contact. However, plays with a good motor and his combination of instincts and overall grit allow him to consistently make a blocker miss and fight his way toward the ball carrier inside. Generates only average power on contact when asked to break down, but does a nice job wrapping up in tight quarters. Nevertheless, has a tendency to overrun plays and fails to break down on contact in space, as he isn’t the most secure wrap-up guy when working in pursuit.
Possesses a good feel in the pass game and looks comfortable reading his pass keys, keeping his eyes on the quarterback and quickly putting himself around the football. Likes to be physical in man coverage and does a nice job disrupting the timing of tight ends in the pass game and getting his hands into their frame. However, is a bit stiff in the hips and will struggle to quickly redirect out of his breaks and generate a closing burst toward the football.
Too often allows completions to take place around his frame simply because of his inability to quickly change directions and make a play on the throw. Really struggles to hold up in man vs. running backs out of the backfield, and simply lacks the fluidity, change of direction skills and initial burst to keep pace.
Impression: An overrated prospect because of where he plays — Miami — and his above-average straight-line speed. However, he isn’t real impressive in man coverage, isn’t a top-tier tackler and looks more like a reserve type/utility backer to me in the NFL."
Take the 2008 season as an example of McCarthy's importance to the defense. With McCarthy in the lineup, Miami opened the season holding its first four opponents (Charleston Southern, Florida, Texas A&M and North Carolina) to an average of 65 rushing yards. McCarthy was lost for the season after sustaining a shoulder injury during practice prior to the team's fifth game. From there the run defense was sunk. Even after their strong start, the Hurricanes finished last in the ACC against the run (151.8 yards per game) in 2008 and allowed 1,974 yards total -- the ninth- highest total in school history.
McCarthy began his career with the Hurricanes playing special teams. A standout as a freshman, he was among the team leaders with six special teams tackles and had the team's only blocked punt. He earned the starting outside linebacker job in 2007 and finished fifth on the team with 74 tackles, including a team-leading 12 tackles for loss. McCarthy impressed early in 2008 (21 tackles, forced fumble) before the injury and returned to earn second-team All-ACC accolades in 2009 (95 tackles, 10.5 tackles for loss) after moving to inside linebacker.
He posted improved totals last season at inside linebacker as a senior (105 tackles, nine tackles for loss in the regular season) and was honorable mention All-ACC.
Athletic, instinctive and physical, McCarthy has all the makings of a starting NFL linebacker. He fits best in the middle. While he played outside linebacker in the past, McCarthy's lacks the elite athleticism to move back there in the pros. He isn't flashy, but could provide a stabilizing force against the run and will still be available on the second or early third day of the draft.
Read & React: Good instincts for the position. Reads his keys quickly and efficiently moves towards the ball. Can be too aggressive toward the line of scrimmage against the run, leaving cutback lanes vacant. Over-aggression makes him susceptible to good play-action. To his credit, he isn't fooled for long and doesn't quit until the whistle blows.
Run Defense: Attacks the line of scrimmage in run defense, taking questionable angles. Can get tripped up inside but did show improvement last year in his ability to protect his legs. Often beats blockers to the point due because he constantly attacks the line of scrimmage, resulting in high tackle production. Provides a quick, physical pop to keep blockers off of him when his good lateral agility isn't enough to elude them. Has seen time at all three linebacker positions. Has at least moderate straight-line speed. Pursues with passion laterally and downfield.
Pass Defense: High and choppy in his backpedal and is a bit stiff in the hips. Gains good depth on his drops and keeps his head on a swivel in pass defense, but has only moderate overall agility to keep up with potential receivers. Typically is in position to make the tackle, but may not be athletic enough to consistently break up passes.
Tackling: Arguably his best skill. Is an aggressive, wrap-up tackler that seems to enjoy the physicality of the game. Shows no hesitancy taking on big ballcarriers. Flashes some explosiveness as a hitter, showing textbook hit-lift-drive form. Breaks down well in space to handle elusive running backs.
Pass Rush/Blitz: Moderate speed off the edge as a stand-up blitzer. Can pressure the tackle's outside shoulder and shows some natural pass-rush instincts with his ability to cut back inside. Has to develop better technique; he's overly reliant on the bull rush when engaged. Needs to do a better job of protecting his knees from the cut block.
Intangibles: A standout special teams player early in his career. Was granted a medical hardship in 2008 after four games. Slipped on wet turf during practice and injured his shoulder, which required surgery. Considered leaving for the NFL after his junior season.
Instincts: He is a smart player who knows his assignments and rarely is out of position. He can be a liability when he does not use good hand placement and can get tied up by the offensive lineman. He diagnoses the run and short pass well. He does not get fooled easily on misdirection, traps, or counter plays. Sometimes he loses concentration and focus which causes him to be out of position.
Pass Rush: McCarthy is an adequate pass rusher. He does not have an array of pass rush moves when coming from the outside. He shoots the gaps with aggressiveness and a burst to get to the QB. He gets off the line fast and uses his hands well to beat the offensive lineman. When he is aggressive with his hands he sheds quickly and can get after the QB.
Pursuit: He has good foot quickness and very good instincts to play on the ball before the runner can get outside. When he has a clear path to the ball he consistently makes plays in pursuit. He sometimes takes bad angles and struggles moving thru traffic. He has a very good burst to make plays from sideline to sideline and make tackles for losses in the backfield.
Quickness: He gets off the ball fast and fills quickly due to his very good read and react awareness. He has the quick hands, feet, and agility to defeat running backs who try and pass block him which helps him consistently pressure the QB. He accelerates to full speed very quickly and has very good playing speed to chase down running backs in backside pursuit. He does not have the speed or quickness to stay on the hip of faster tight ends and running backs deep down field in tight man to man coverage.
Run Defense: McCarthy fills fast and sheds the block with good hand use and playing strength then can wrap up ball carrier and bring him down. He plays with good base and leverage which helps him to consistently play strong at the point of attack. He gets caught up in traffic on occasion due to taking bad angles sometimes. His quick feet helps him to make plays from sideline to sideline.
Strength: He has very good flexibility to keep knees bent and allows him to explode with his strength and power into the ball carrier to push him back or bring him down. He plays strong at the point of attack versus blockers and as a tackler. When he takes on lead blocking running backs with leverage and aggressiveness he has good playing strength and can be a strong tackler. He can get bounced around or driven backwards when he is to upright and causes him to not be strong at the point of attack.
Tackling; He is a very good tackler and makes the majority of them. He can also tackle well out in space when he keeps his feet under him and uses his good balance. He can chase plays down from behind and sideline to sideline with his quick feet, agility, and athleticism.
Final Word: McCarthy is a good athlete and plays with toughness and good instincts. He reads and reacts to running plays very fast then sheds the block and makes the tackle. He seems to be an ideal fit for teams running a 4-3 defense. He can play the middle linebacker or even on occassion the outside linebacker positions. When he is free to roam behind the 4 down lineman in a 4-3 scheme he will be at his best and make plays from sideline to sideline. He could play the middle linebacker position in a 3-4 defense, but I think he would struggle there because he has problems disengaging from offensive lineman and also fighting through traffic. He reminds me a lot of ex football star, Dan Morgan, who also played at Miami. McCarthy had a great Senior Bowl, showing off his athleticism and flexibility to play multiple positions. Overall, McCarthy more than likely will be a 2nd round steal for an NFL team on draft day and will be very consistently productive linebacker who does not make a lot of mistakes and is always around the ball. Teams he would fit well with are the Broncos, Lions, Giants, Panthers, Jaguars, and Titans."
Positive: Aggressive defender who gets the most from his ability. Plays disciplined football, stays with assignments, and effectively flows to the action. Fires up the field against the run, patient and takes good angles to the action. Fast to the flanks and possesses better than average playing speed. Shows a great head for the ball. Squares into tackles and wraps up.
Negative: Marginally effective in pursuit. Easily out-positioned by blocks. Struggles in coverage.
Analysis: McCarthy was a terrific college linebacker who also excelled on special teams. He's a defender who would be best in a system that allows him to freely flow to the action and has enough ability to make a two deep in a number of defensive alignments."
Negatives: Does not break down well when preparing to make a tackle, will miss tackles by over-pursuing or lunging at contact... Takes on blocks much too high and allows blockers to get easy pad control at the line of scrimmage... Can get out of position fairly easily on misdirection and play-action plays... Needs to work on coverage techniques, sometimes reaches with the wrong hand to defend passes, which sometimes allows for big yardage... Not very good in man-to-man coverage, does not see a lot of action as a pass defender on third down... Missed most of 2008 season with shoulder injury, durability a minor concern... Not an explosive or unique athlete, will have to rely on work ethic to contribute in the NFL."
2010- Best statistical year of his career, 105 total tackles, with 9 TFLs, a sack, a pick, 4 QBHs, a FF, a FR, and a PBU.
2009- Received All-ACC 2nd team honors. Tallied 94 tackles (53 solo, 41 assisted), 10.5 TFL, one sack, one forced fumble, and one interception.
2008- Resumed his starting duties at outside linebacker, but suffered a season-ending injury after just four games. Had 21 tackles (14 solo, seven assisted) during his four games. Was given a medical hardship (granting him two more seasons of eligibility.
2007- Started all year at outside linebacker. Racked up 74 tackles (50 solo, 24 assisted), 12 TFL, two sack, one forced fumble, one interception, five pass break-ups, and one fumble recovery for a touchdown.
2006- Played in nine games: had one blocked punt and six special teams tackles.
Strengths: Pretty good athlete. Pretty good tackler. Diagnoses well and holds up pretty well at the POA in the run game. Has some awareness in pass defense and drops well. Covers well for a LB and fits on TEs pretty well. Has gotten better every year. Steady, reliable ballplayer who will not hurt you in any phase of OLB play.
Weaknesses: Never had the big breakout year that some expected of him. Seems to coast at times during games. Not an elite athlete. Short. Fluid enough, but doesn't always seem to take the right angles either in pursuit of running plays or when attacking the crossing routes in pass defense. Something is missing here...
Projection: 4-5th rounder."
However, his 2008 campaign was cut short after suffering a season ending shoulder injury after four games. McCarthy received a medical hardship and suited up again as a junior in 2009. There was a question at the time if McCarthy could get back to his old form, but he wasted little time proving any doubters wrong an
d ended the season by receiving All-ACC Second-Team accolades. McCarthy has played just about everywhere in the linebacker corps and has finished his collegiate career in the middle. He is a good athlete, but not great. He makes up for any physical shortcomings with his incredible instincts.
Those instincts make McCarthy best suited to play in the middle, but he does have the versatility to play anywhere and that is never a bad thing. McCarthy should be one of the more experienced and safe middle linebackers heading into the draft this year, but his ceiling is probably in the third round."
Colin McCarthy simply cannot tackle.
He boasts excellent Speed, but his Fluidity and his Lateral Agility are lacking, as is his Verticity ~ redirectional acuity.
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