Alec Ogletree is a top ten talent. Simple as that. No doubt what so ever. By the time April comes around I suspect that’ll be consensus opinion. It should be.
There are reasons why that may not prove to be the case (more on that later) but none involve a lack of talent. What’s more the guy looks like he was made to play for the Seahawks defense. If he falls out of the top ten due to a couple of off-field incidents, Seattle’s front office needs to be ready to pounce. We’ve spent a ton of time talking up Jarvis Jones as the defining playmaker on Georgia’s defense. The more I watch Ogletree, the more I think he’s the true star.
Against Ole Miss on Saturday, he was flawless. This is the fourth time I’ve seen him this season and he’s shown improvement each time after returning from a four game suspension. He had a series of big impact plays, helping the Bulldogs to a comfortable 37-10 victory.
- With 13:56 left in the first quarter, Ole Miss attempt a pass down the right sideline. The safety under-cuts the route and comes close to intercepting the ball, but the gamble takes him out of coverage. The receiver has a ten yard head start and a free run to the end zone, but the Ogletree chases him down and makes the tackle at the 16 yard line saving a touchdown.
- On 3rd and 8 at the Ole Miss 45, he lined up next to the right end appearing like he was going to cover the slot receiver. Instead he rushed the edge with the defensive end dropping instead. Ogletree blew past the left tackle on a speed rush and sacked the quarterback for a big loss.
- In the closing stages of the first quarter, Ole Miss went for it on 4th and 4 at the Georgia 30. Ogletree lined up inside, standing on the right hash mark. He rushed the interior but the quarterback threw quickly on a WR screen to the opposite side of the field. Ogletree diagnosed the play immediately, changed direction in a flash and sprinted to the receiver who was odds on to get the first down. With an elite burst of acceleration, Ogletree wins the foot race and makes a crunching tackle to force a turnover on downs, inches short of the marker. Anything other than a forceful hit and momentum carries the ball carrier to a first down. It’s the best defensive play you’ll see this year that isn’t a sack or interception.
- On a screen play with 9:18 left in the second quarter he showed great instinct again to recognise the play, avoid blockers and make the play for a loss.
- With 6:08 left in the second quarter the Ole Miss quarterback drops back and makes an ill-advised down field thrown from just inside his own end zone. Ogletree has dropped into coverage downfield and is perfectly placed to make a leaping interception. By my reckoning he makes up 25 yards between the quarterback setting to throw and delivering the pass. Again, it’s a show of elite athleticism, field IQ and execution.
- With 0:58 left in the third quarter, Ole Miss are pinned back on their own two yard line. Ogletree is once more lined up inside. He reads the play (hand off to the tailback in the shotgun) and explodes to the ball carrier, not allowing him any time to react. Ogletree throws the running back to the ground inside the end zone for a safety.
If you’ve not really considered the possibility of the Seahawks drafting this guy, it’s time to get excited. Just don’t get your hopes up too much because he may be long gone by the time the Seattle picks. I’ve not seen a linebacker with comparable closing speed. He can show a coverage look before blitzing, take away the hot read and play the edge as a pass rusher. In fact he has untapped potential as a pass rusher playing ILB in Georgia’s 3-4 defense. As a WILL linebacker in a 4-3 scheme, he’ll probably end up being a better fit.
So why might he fall to the Seahawks, assuming they aren’t picking in the top ten this year? He was suspended for four games this year, along with team mate Bacarri Rambo, after failing a drugs test during spring camp. There’s nothing to suggest this is a lingering issue or that Ogeltree has a problem. Even so, it’s something teams will look into – particularly given it’s not his first flirtation with trouble. He was also suspended in 2010 for one game after a bizarre arrest following an incident involving a stolen scooter helmet. Teams will do their homework but I suspect these incidents aren’t going to be enough alone to force a dramatic fall in round one.
People who visit the blog regularly know how much I rate pass rusher Jarvis Jones. Who doesn’t rate the guy? He’s the big name on a Georgia defense loaded with NFL talent, including nose tackle Jonathan Jenkins, defensive end Garrison Smith, safety’s Shawn Williams and Bacarri Rambo and cornerbacks Damian Swann and Branden Smith. Ogletree is right up there with Jones and might be the better pro-prospect. The Bulldogs are probably going to face Alabama in the SEC title game again and it’ll be interesting to see if they can do a better job than last year against a dominating Crimson Tide offense. They have enough talent on defense to compete.
Linebacker isn’t Seattle’s greatest need but eventually Leroy Hill is going to move on or revert to a more limited role. Ogletree would be the perfect replacement at the WILL position. Not only would he offer another dimension to the pass rush at outside linebacker, he’d also solve some of the issues on third down. He’s a former safety so has defensive back speed and can cover slot receivers underneath or tight ends on deeper routes over the middle. Third down defense is an area for improvement and Ogletree would provide that from day one. There’s no reason why he couldn’t develop into a player of Julian Peterson’s quality, providing 7-10 sacks per year while being vastly superior in coverage.
Make no mistake, Alec Ogletree is an elite talent and warrants the highest praise as a pro-prospect. If you want someone to root for as a defensive pick, this is your guy.