When it comes to building through the draft teams must find guys in the middle to late rounds that fit the scheme and who can be developed. A player that will probably be drafted in the 5th or 6th round who could help the Bills in the future is linebacker Stephen Weatherly.
He isn’t a flashy player, but he could be a solid role player for the Bills in coming years. He is 6’4″, 267 pounds and tested really well at the NFL combine. His 4.61 forty yard dash caught the eyes of scouts and of course made them go look at his tape.
At Vanderbilt, Weatherly was an outside linebacker in their base 3-4 defense. So needless to say, he has experience in Rex Ryan’s style of defense. Weather completed his 2015 season with 45 tackles, 23 run disruptions, 14 run stuffs, 23 pressures and 3.5 sacks. As his stats show he is a versatile defender who is good at just about everything but not great at any one thing. Thirty two of his 45 tackles were from 0-2 yards (Real Football Network).
In 2015 Weatherly wasn’t asked to cover many players in man coverage. He doesn’t have the short area quickness or fluidity to stay with WRs or RBs. He was more of a zone defender, he was only targeted 6 times, allowed 5 catches for 45 yards.
He was primarily used as a boundary outside backer. Weatherly is an outside linebacker that will fit in as a rush-contain player. As we all know Jerry Hughes will be primarily used as the #1 pass rusher, a role that Rex Ryan creates plays to get him to the QB. So that rush-contain role is quite important to the defense.
But that isn’t to say that he doesn’t have pass rush skills. He is a player that Rex would have to scheme to get to the quarterback because he doesn’t possess an arsenal of moves. That shouldn’t be a problem with the defensive line talent the Bills will bring to the table in 2016.
He played in 82 snaps in this game versus #3 Ole Miss. He finished with a sack, 1.5 run stuffs and 3 tackles.
The former Commodore doesn’t posses the explosiveness off the ball to become a dominant pass rusher. But he does have enough get off to become a disruptive player.
He had five total pressures in this game.
He has the reach to stack and keep lineman away from his body. If he can combine all of his physical traits with pass rush techniques he could be a productive backup rusher.
I am a huge fan of Manny Lawson. He really allowed Rex to match-up with offenses in so many different ways. He was by far the most underrated and underappreciated player in 2015. Although Weatherly doesn’t have Lawson’s athletic ability he can be used in similar ways. On this play he is in a two point stance and is responsible for the running back.
He has the straight line speed to spy can close on quarterbacks.
Stephen Weatherly isn’t a blue chip player he is a blue collar player. He isn’t a player that will fill the stat box at the NFL level. But what he will do are the little things. He projects as a SAM LB in the Bills scheme, right there with Max Valles and Manny Lawson. Weatherly will most likely be a target on day three of the NFL draft, a developmental player with some upside.