WELCOME TO THE BIG SHOW: Stephen Weatherly
The team at Vikings Territory has been busy working to get to know each of our newest Vikings draft selections and this week we will give you a chance to learn everything we know about these players through our reintroduction of the “Welcome to the Big Show” series. First up is Vanderbilt product Stephen Weatherly.
HEIGHT: 6′ 4″
WEIGHT: 267 pounds
ARM LENGTH: 34.5 inches
HANDS: 10.25 inches
NFL COMBINE RESULTS
40 YARD DASH: 4.61 seconds
BENCH PRESS: 23 repetitions
VERTICAL JUMP: 31 inches
BROAD JUMP: 117 inches
Weatherly’s grandmother graduated from Harvard and MIT. According to Lindsey Young over at Vikings.com, his middle name is “Dian” which is a tribute to his grandmother.
He has a clear passion for music and is a talented musician in his own right as he knows how to play nine instruments. He can play the flute, clarinet, trumpet, trombone, baritone, tuba, tenor sax, steel drums, and the piano. He also enjoys chess, robotics, and math.
Weatherly grew up in Snellville, Georgia and was a three-star linebacker recruit coming out of high school. He has offers on the table from Ole Miss, Stanford, and Georgia Tech prior to making his commitment to Vanderbilt.
Weatherly played all four years of high school as both a defensive end and as an outside linebacker, while also being a productive wide receiver (eight touchdowns as a senior). He also played forward in basketball and lettered in both track and baseball.
At Vanderbilt, Weatherly started off playing as a rotational defensive end as a redshirt freshman in 2013, before moving to the position of 3-4 linebacker for the remainder of his college career.
According to the Tennesean, Weatherly made the decision to declare early for the NFL Draft after hours of deliberation with his family and his coaches.
“At the end of the season after the Tennessee game and the senior banquet, my family was in town and we talked for hours about it,” Weatherly said. “That next week I met with coach (Derek) Mason and (linebackers) coach (Kenwick) Thompson. We all agreed that it was in my best interests to go ahead and go into the draft.”
That same article says that the NFL advisory process had informed Weatherly that he would not be projected as a first or second round selection. The advisory process only informs players if they project to be selected in the first two rounds.
Weatherly was only two electives shy of graduating and has indicated that he plans to finish those up sooner than later, despite his decision to enter the NFL early. He was also awarded the SEC’s Community Service Award.
“The financial part (of the NFL) is amazing — to be able to take care of my family, who sacrificed so much to get me where I am,” Weatherly said. “To have the opportunity to come back and have my mom retire would be amazing. And continuing to play the game that I love for another x-number of years is awesome. It’s a win-win, and I have confidence that I will succeed.”
- Great height, frame, and long limbs.
- His broad frame suggests he has room to add strength and fill out.
- Height allows good vision into the backfield allowing for quick diagnosis.
- Above average speed and agility.
- Versatility to play with his hand in the turf or upright.
- Effective pass rusher from multiple spots.
- Displays nice timing at the snap.
- Attacks running backs with quickness.
- Uses long reach to seal the edge on running plays.
- Coverage skills shouldn’t be overlooked at defensive end.
- Meaningful production throughout college career.
- Regarded as a team leader last season.
- Known to be highly regarded off the field.
- Can contribute immediately on special teams.
- Has starter potential at the NFL level.
- Can’t afford to lose any of the burst he currently has.
- Footwork needs to be refined.
- Fundamentals are in need of being coached up.
- Known to overthink and rush with some hesitation.
- Slow to get off of blocks at times.
- Needs to add some strength.
- Can be a liability against the run option.
- Lacks a punch move that is consistently effective.
- Productivity falls short of what his attributes suggest it could be.
- No defining pass rush moves.
- Needs to show more awareness and protect himself from cut blocks.
- Will need time to develop and could easily be given the “project” label.
NFL.COM PROFILE: They conclude that Weatherly is a size and length prospect that comes with upside, but needs to add strength while keeping his burst to be in any sort of starter conversation.
CBS SPORTS: Dane Brugler thinks Weatherly is backup material as a rookie with the potential to grow into a starter-capable option down the road.
BLEACHER REPORT: “Backup caliber” is the label here, as they peg Weatherly’s struggles with shedding blocks as a major problem in projecting his ceiling.
NFL MOCKS: Sam Beckenstein sees potential in Weatherly’s speed, size, and versatility and thinks he adds value on special teams and as a rotational backup.
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30 SECONDS OF HYPE: Not much use here from a “scouting” standpoint, but a fun video that highlights a number of plays made by Weatherly where he attacks the ball carrier like a missile and uses his long limbs to finish the job.
SPECIAL: Perhaps Weatherly’s best play came on special teams. He ran unblocked in front of the punt, scooped it off the ground, and ran it in for the score.
YOUNG GUN: Weatherly’s high school tape allows you to see him play both sides of the ball. Also, he looks a little out of place playing against those much, much smaller guys.
SENIOR YEAR: I can’t tell if these high school teams couldn’t block Weatherly or actively chose not to try.
“Okay coach we will find some guys that have some athletic skill set that are bigger.” These are the words of Rick Spielman as he described the war room’s late-round mindset during his post-Draft press conference.
“… That was Stephen Weatherly out of Vanderbilt,” he continued. Spielman was quick to clarify that they plan on playing Weatherly at defensive end.
“We brought Stephen on the Top 30 as well and we’re projecting him as defensive end,” said Spielman. “Andre Patterson went all the way back to his freshman year in 2013 and pulled all his plays as a defensive end and I think it was about a 65 play clip so we sat there and watched him as a potential edge pass rusher because he has the length, he has size, and he has the speed. We will need some refinement from a technical standpoint, but he has a lot of upside as a pass rusher in a 4-3 defense.”
Weatherly was selected by the Vikings 227th overall. The instant reaction expressed by Vikings fans here at at VT was largely positive with 81% of voters grading it at an “A” or “B” level.
THE VIKINGS FIT
Weatherly’s long reach combines with surprising speed to create a defensive end project that will likely draw comparison’s to last year’s rookie Danielle Hunter. Weatherly shouldn’t be expected to repeat the rookie successes of Hunter, as he is slightly more limited and is unlikely to see the field as much, but his on-field prowess will be fun to monitor in Makato and throughout the preseason.
The Vikings are almost certainly going to feature Everson Griffen, Brian Robison, and Hunter at defensive end in 2016. The means that Weatherly’s main competition will be Justin Trattou and Scott Crichton. If he can show some legitimate promise at the position, and establish plenty of value on special teams, then it is far from impossible for Weatherly to earn himself a seat at Mike Zimmer’s dinner table as a rookie.
Weatherly is currently wearing jersey number 64 with the Vikings and has participated at the rookie minicamp.