One of the most under rated players in the 2015 draft class has to be Cincinnati’s 6’0” 251 pound ILB Jeff Luc.
CBSsports.com has Luc currently ranked as their 13th ILB and 261 overall. Yet, it wasn’t that long ago (2010), just prior to his freshmen season at Florida State, that Luc was highly touted as the best middle linebacker in the country by the likes of ESPN, Sporting News, Rivals, Scout, MaxPrep and others. With a national ranking just outside the top ten in the country, Luc had offers from Alabama, Miami, Ohio State, Notre Dame, Southern Miss, Oklahoma, Tennessee and USC, but it was Florida State that won the honor of being the top suitor.
Luc saw action in 19 games his first two seasons in Tallahassee logging just 23 total tackles in limited duty.
Luc’s determination for more playing time and his relationship with then Cincinnati defensive coordinator John Jancek, a coach who recruited him out of high school when Jancek was a linebackers coach at Georgia, was the catalyst for Luc’s transfer to Cincinnati.
Luc shined while with the Bearcats earning First-Team All-American Athletic conference honors as a senior after totaling a team-high 134 tackles, 6.5 sacks and finishing tied for the NCAA FBS lead with six forced fumbles. Luc wrapped up his college career with 200 total tackles, 8 sacks, 19.5 tackles for loss, and 8 forced fumbles. Luc had a career best 18 tackles in a September contest against Miami (Ohio) last season.
“STRENGTHS: Built like a Sherman tank with a compact, heavily-muscled frame that stood out even amongst the best-built players at the Senior Bowl. Quick to read run, attacking would-be blockers with a physical pop to disengage and make plays in the hole. Physical enough to potentially play inside linebacker in a 3-4 scheme. Possesses 32″ arms, which help him keep blockers from latching onto him. Shows some lateral quickness and flexibility to slip by blockers, surprising opponents gearing up for collisions. Has a short area burst to close, exploding into ball-carriers with enough force to knock the ball free (six forced fumbles in 2014) and shows excellent strength and hand-eye coordination to rip the ball free. Improved awareness in coverage in 2014. Took his game to another level as a senior, providing evidence that his best football may still be ahead of him.
WEAKNESSES: Strictly a two-down run-stuffer at the next level. Possesses less-than-ideal fluidity and straight-line speed for coverage responsibilities, perhaps in part because of his muscle-bound frame, which leaves him a stiff and lacking change of direction skills. Lacks the preferred speed to the perimeter and is too often beaten to the edge by backs. Only one season of impressive production at the collegiate level.”
–Rob Rang, cbssports.com
Luc wasn’t invited to the combine, but ran a 4.61 and 4.57 seconds 40-yard dash at Cincinnati’s pro day. He recorded a 34-inch vertical and an 8’10” broad jump. Luc ran the short shuttle in 4.56 and the 3-cone drill in 7.30 seconds. Luc worked out well, and he projects as a sixth- or seventh-round draft pick.
Luc had a monster senior season after switching to middle linebacker. He looks much more comfortable playing inside the tackle box where he can play down hill and attack the football. Luc is very difficult to block because he has good hand technique and good leverage. What he lacks in his read and react time he makes up for in his quick ability to shed blocks. Luc is always around the ball and is a good finisher.
Last week I posted an article explaining why ILB Denzel Perryman would be a good fit with the Vikings if drafted in the middle rounds. If you like the toughness of Perryman but think round three or four is just too high for a two-down run stuffer, than you might like the idea of Jeff Luc in round six or seven a little more.
If the idea of Zimmer drafting an OLB/edge rusher early in this draft intrigues you, then adding a run stuffing MLB in the later rounds would make a logical complement.
Jeff Luc is an underrated hard hitting linebacker that could add a much needed punch and physical presence to the middle of Zimmer’s run defense.