Darrian Beavers Scouting Report

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Background

Darrian Beavers is a linebacker from Cincinnati and a prospect in the 2022 NFL Draft. Beavers played wide receiver and safety for Colerain High School in Cincinnati. He earned all-conference honors twice and led his team to three conference titles. Beavers was only a three-star recruit at safety and earned a handful of offers from Group of Five schools. He chose to attend UConn and began bulking up to switch to linebacker.

Beavers played in all 24 possible games during his first two seasons with the Huskies. He cracked the starting lineup in 2018, making six starts. Before the 2019 season, Beavers elected to transfer and return home to Cincinnati. He played in all 14 games in 2019, starting 10. In 2020, Beavers started all 10 games for the Bearcats on his way to earning All-AAC 2nd-Team. He finished second on the team in total tackles with 58. 

In 2021, Beavers started all 15 games for Cincinnati. He was a finalist for the Butkus Award and earned All-AAC 1st-Team. He finished second on the team in total tackles and fumbles forced, tied for second in tackles for loss, and third in sacks. In the postseason, Beavers earned invitations to the Senior Bowl and the NFL Scouting Combine

In the Cincinnati defense, Beavers filled many roles. He frequently moved around before the snap, moving back and forth from the line of scrimmage. When he was at UConn, he was used almost exclusively as an on-ball outside linebacker. But with the Bearcats, Beavers played much more off the ball, but usually between the tackles. He frequently rushes the passer, is utilized on stunts and twists, and also drops into short zone coverage over the middle of the field. 

Statistics

Career Stats: 63 games played, 41 games started, 230 tackles (129 solos), 27.5 TFLs, 3 forced fumbles, 4 passes defensed, 3 interceptions, 54 pressures (26 hurries, 14 QB hits, 13.5 sacks). 

2021 Stats: 15 GP/GS, 99 tackles (47 solos), 12.0 TFLs, 2 forced fumbles, 2 passes defensed, 1 interception, 21 pressures (9 hurries, 6 QB hits, 5 sacks). 

2021 PFF Grades (20% snap minimum): 77.7 Defense (t-23rd), 73.7 Run Defense (t-49th), 59.6 Tackling (284th), 86.1 Pass Rush (17th), 68.0 Coverage (t-110th). 

Darrian Beavers Scouting Report

Strengths
  • Very good mental processing: able to diagnose and trigger downhill quickly. Recognizes concepts quickly and knows how to attack them. Displays excellent zone awareness in the passing game. 
  • Good play strength, with better passive strength than active strength. Almost never gets pushed backwards by blockers of any size. 
  • Good in run defense between the tackles: very disciplined in his run fits, understanding how his assignment fits into the whole of the defense. Gets into the hole quickly and can stack blockers there. 
  • Good in short zones in the middle of the field, shuffling well between the hashes and reading QB’s eyes. Understands how route concepts are developing around and behind him, subtly moving to take them away. 
  • Over 700 special teams snaps in career, with more than 100 in all except FG/XP kicks. Can be an immediate contributor there and seize leadership role early on. 
Weaknesses
  • Sub-par athletic ability: stiffly built and struggles to change direction. Not particularly explosive from standstill or when changing direction. 
  • Lacks foot speed and desire to be a sideline-to-sideline player; if play is to the opposite side of the field, will most likely not make an impact. 
  • Active strength is lacking. Rarely pushes blockers back and struggles to shed blockers. Doesn’t take on blocks aggressively, instead trying to knife through gaps and avoid them. 
  • Frequently misses tackles in the open field and between the tackles. Can be out-athleted in space with relative ease. Struggles to maintain consistent tackling technique as well, allowing ballcarriers to slough him off. Too aggressive and puts head down without following through. 
  • Despite usage, struggles to defeat offensive linemen when rushing the passer. Does not have the athletic ability to win around the edge, nor the strength or technique to win through linemen. 
  • Very rarely used in man coverage against tight ends or even running backs, possibly indicating the coaching staff did not trust him to do so. 

Summary

Darrian Beavers is somewhat of a relic, relative to the modern game of professional football. He is a born safety in an edge defender’s body playing linebacker. He’s a very smart player with extensive experience; he knows where to be at all times and is difficult to move.

However, Beavers suffers from a significant lack of speed and athletic ability. He is stiff and slow to change direction, hampering his ability to pursue ball carriers and make tackles in the open field. Despite his build, he is not particularly effective as a pass rusher when his blitzes are not schemed up via twists and stunts. 

In the NFL, Darrian Beavers projects as a middle/inside linebacker or an on-ball strong-side linebacker. He will be one of the larger linebackers in the NFL, edge defenders excluded. He projects as a role-player who takes the field against heavier personnel groups in likely run situations. Beavers has extensive special teams experience, so he should be comfortable taking snaps there immediately.

However, it seems unlikely that he will develop into an every-down defensive player. While he may survive in a zone-heavy defense that moves him around, Beavers should not see the field on passing downs against NFL athletes where he has to cover them in man. 

Grade: 6.0 / 10

Comparison: Kyle Wilber (2012, R4 #113, Dallas Cowboys)

Author: Mitchell Wolfe

Scouting Academy Graduate, 2020 Boston College, 2017 Temple University (Master of Sport Business), 2021

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