Scouts, Inc. had him ranked the best player in the draft.
(6’3″, 272, 4.75) | VIRGINIA
Strengths: One of the most versatile and polished prospects in the 2008 class. Possesses adequate height with outstanding bulk and all around strength. Can play DE in three-and-four man front, and also projects favorably as a 3-4 OLB. Displays explosive power with initial punch. He shows very first-step quickness, fires out with leverage and does a great job of knocking offensive linemen back with his initial pop. Displays outstanding power and technique in his club and rip moves. Does a fine job of protecting his lower body. Extremely powerful bull rush. Frequently will stand up the OL and drive him back into the QB. He is instinctive and does an excellent job of finding the ball while still fighting through blocks. He disengages quickly and is relentless in pursuit of the ball carrier. Never gives up on a play and his elite motor is infectious. He grew up around the game and knows what it takes to make it in the NFL. His overall intangibles and work ethic are as good as it gets. Also has been extremely durable to this point; missed time in 2004 due to illness but started every game from that point on (2005-07).
Weaknesses: Lacks elite top-end speed. Will rarely win battles on pure burst off the edge. Very good athlete as a DE but there are still questions regarding his ability to flip his hips in coverage as a LB. Also can get washed out at times when asked to stack versus 300-plus pound OTs.
Overall: Long appeared in 30 games (24 starts) in his first three seasons (2004-’06), recording 108 total tackles (24 for losses) and seven sacks. He turned in a brilliant senior year, collecting 79 tackles (19 for losses), 14 sacks, two forced fumbles and an interception that Long returned 25 yards. He was a unanimous All-America selection, winner of the Ted Hendricks Award (given to the nation’s top defensive end) and the ACC Defensive Player of the Year in 2007. Long missed five games in 2004 while suffering from mononucleosis. He is the son of Oakland Raiders Hall of Fame defensive end Howie Long. Long still has room to improve when it comes to fighting through double teams and he also lacks elite top-end speed. Otherwise, he’s everything a NFL team looks for in a future perennial Pro Bowl defensive end. His combination of size, power, quickness and tenacity are unparalleled by anyone in college football today. Adding to Long’s value is his versatility; he can play end in a three-and-four man front (or both in a hybrid) in the NFL. Long has made enormous strides during each of his three seasons at Virginia. If that trend continues as a senior, he will undoubtedly hear his name called in Round 1 of the 2008 draft.
Rick Gosselin ranked him 3rd overall:
Long had his jersey number retired in both high school and college. Don’t bet against his jersey number being retired in the NFL, either. The son of an NFL Hall of Famer, Long is viewed as one of the two safest picks in this draft along with Michigan tackle Jake Long. There is no risk factor â€“ he’s a can’t-miss prospect because of his work ethic and game-day motor. Those intangibles have made him a dominant player every step of the way in his career. He posted 15 sacks as a senior in high school and 43 in his career. At Virginia, he became a three-year starter, two-time captain, the only unanimous All-ACC selection in 2007 and the Hendricks Award winner as college football’s best defensive lineman. He’s relentless, and his energy makes raises the level of play of those around him better.
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