RD2 #28/#60: LB Josh Uche, Michigan

RedOctober3829

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Balancing Uche's skill set and athletic potential against his inexperience and lack of instincts makes him a challenging evaluation. He's unlikely to find sustained success as a situational rusher, but it should be in play for a team to turn loose his rush instincts and agility inside the pocket as a blitzer. He plays with closing burst, can tackle and is smoother in coverage than expected, but the difference in becoming a pro linebacker instead of a short-term, hybrid athlete will depend largely upon improving his second-level instincts and finding an eclectic defensive mind to unlock his potential.

View: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vtzcFATZSf0
 

RobertsSteal

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Looks like another smaller, but way more athletic defender to try to contain Lamar and Mahomes. Tua, too, most likely. Not to mention Allen in BUF. Seems like BB has a strategy. For once...(kidding!)

Edit: And Watson.
 

Marciano490

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I love this pick, especially in conjunction with Dugger. We’re going to need to beat/contain Jackson, Mahomes and maybe Tua for the foreseeable future, so load up on explosive, athletic dudes who can close quick.

Anyone know why he couldn’t crack the starting lineup till senior year though?

Also, I have that Nas+Bravehearts song stuck in my head now.

Edit: whoa, RobertsSteal mindmelded me.
 

RobertsSteal

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Anyone know why he couldn’t crack the starting lineup till senior year though?
Hoping it's because Winovich had him blocked. 5.5 sacks as a rookie from him, now Uche joins him? If they combined for 10-12 sacks next year, I'd call that some Round 2/3 success for BB - from the same well.

Edit: I thought I heard voices in my head, Marciano490.
 

DJnVa

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Whatever else they may or may not be, these are NOT boring picks. Defense is getting athletic. And, like @Deathofthebambino said, raw guys that take some time isn't the worst thing right now.
 

Soxy

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McGinn's write-up. Had him #7 edge player in the draft.

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Yeah, but who the hell ever heard of a guy from the University of Michigan having success in the NFL, let alone for the Patriots, after having to fight for playing time in college? Never happen.
 

Soxy

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One scout said he can run and jump. The other said not a good athlete.
I think the third scout was tims4wins.

Edit: To actually add some content, it is kind of hilarious that you have two scouts practically gushing about the kid, another scout comparing him to a Pro Bowler who has 37.5 sacks in four seasons in the NFL, and then one guy who's like: "I think he sucks" [fart noise].

McGinn is a well connected guy. I think it's pretty clear which way the wind was blowing on this kid.
 
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Zososoxfan

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I love this pick, especially in conjunction with Dugger. We’re going to need to beat/contain Jackson, Mahomes and maybe Tua for the foreseeable future, so load up on explosive, athletic dudes who can close quick.

Anyone know why he couldn’t crack the starting lineup till senior year though?

Also, I have that Nas+Bravehearts song stuck in my head now.

Edit: whoa, RobertsSteal mindmelded me.
On a very good defense last year he was a very productive player on limited snaps. This year he continued to be very productive on more snaps, but the coaches inexplicably didn’t keep him on the field as much as possible. He then declared for the draft. This is a very good player with nfl caliber athleticism but still some limitations. I think bb will easily get some good usage out of him and it’s probably up to him whether he can reach higher than that.
 
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Jim Nagy raved about him on Phil Perry’s NextPats podcast in March. Said Uche was the best defensive player all week outside of Kinlaw and was surprised he wasn’t being talked about more.
 

SMU_Sox

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One scout said he can run and jump. The other said not a good athlete.
The scout who said he isn’t a good athlete is freaking blind. That’s ridiculous. I take a healthy amount of notes as I’m watching guys. One note to point out: He kept up with Hamler on a seam route. Hamler... on a seam route. Like the second fastest WR in the draft and he kept up with him going vertically down the field. Not an athlete? Ooookaaaay. I’m so annoyed I have to edit this. Scouts can be so dumb sometimes.
 

SMU_Sox

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Jim Nagy raved about him on Phil Perry’s NextPats podcast in March. Said Uche was the best defensive player all week outside of Kinlaw and was surprised he wasn’t being talked about more.
Nagy raves about the parking attendants at the Senior Bowl. Not that he isn’t 100% right on Uche and he is usually legitimately good at pointing out who would be a good fit for each team but he talks up his guys. A lot.
 

tims4wins

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I think the third scout was tims4wins.

Edit: To actually add some content, it is kind of hilarious that you have two scouts practically gushing about the kid, another scout comparing him to a Pro Bowler who has 37.5 sacks in four seasons in the NFL, and then one guy who's like: "I think he sucks" [fart noise].

McGinn is a well connected guy. I think it's pretty clear which way the wind was blowing on this kid.
Well played

I’m actually a UM guy (grad school) so I like Uche. Just felt a round early. Or that he’d be there at 71
 

SMU_Sox

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My biggest issues with Uche as a pass rusher are 1) he has underdeveloped hands and counters and 2) he needs to be careful how much of his chest he leaves exposed to tackles. Too often he lets them get too easy of a punch on him. He’s also at a disadvantage trying to set an edge against a 300 pound plus tackle. I have no doubt Bill will put him in the best position to succeed. Had he tested we wouldn’t be wondering if he should have gone a round early. Not trying to pile on you @tims4wins and for the record the Dugger pick shocked me a bit too. But Uche would have been an 8+ RAS athlete and like Baun would have had a sub 7 3-cone. We needed to replace a KVN/Collins and Bill just nailed that with Uche.
 

tims4wins

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My biggest issues with Uche as a pass rusher are 1) he has underdeveloped hands and counters and 2) he needs to be careful how much of his chest he leaves exposed to tackles. Too often he lets them get too easy of a punch on him. He’s also at a disadvantage trying to set an edge against a 300 pound plus tackle. I have no doubt Bill will put him in the best position to succeed. Had he tested we wouldn’t be wondering if he should have gone a round early. Not trying to pile on you @tims4wins and for the record the Dugger pick shocked me a bit too. But Uche would have been an 8+ RAS athlete and like Baun would have had a sub 7 3-cone. We needed to replace a KVN/Collins and Bill just nailed that with Uche.
As I stated in the game thread I deserve all the shit I got last night. I’m not thrilled this morning but it is what it is. Have to trust BB and NC and hope they finally picked a good DB in round 2.
 

SMU_Sox

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As I stated in the game thread I deserve all the shit I got last night. I’m not thrilled this morning but it is what it is. Have to trust BB and NC and hope they finally picked a good DB in round 2.
I am not one to give people shit unless they are being mean or willfully ignorant. You're a good guy - everyone gets a mulligan :).

How does Uche compare to Winovich? Who has the higher ceiling?
Complimentary to each other and they are different roles. Uche is going to play more off-ball imo whereas Wino will have his hand in the dirt more. One will be the weakside OLB and the other the strongside (Wino).

Who has the higher ceiling is a difficult question to answer. I was more of the mind that Wino was a very solid high floor prospect and Uche is a high ceiling guy. I will stick with that.
 

Kenny F'ing Powers

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My biggest issues with Uche as a pass rusher are 1) he has underdeveloped hands and counters and 2) he needs to be careful how much of his chest he leaves exposed to tackles. Too often he lets them get too easy of a punch on him. He’s also at a disadvantage trying to set an edge against a 300 pound plus tackle. I have no doubt Bill will put him in the best position to succeed. Had he tested we wouldn’t be wondering if he should have gone a round early. Not trying to pile on you @tims4wins and for the record the Dugger pick shocked me a bit too. But Uche would have been an 8+ RAS athlete and like Baun would have had a sub 7 3-cone. We needed to replace a KVN/Collins and Bill just nailed that with Uche.
Doesnt the over-exposure of the chest seem like a feature and not a bug? A lot of the highlights I've seen - and that's all I've seen, whereas you're an animal with tape - show a really explosive inside move. It feels like he baits tackles with his chest and then fucking FLIES inside when they try to get the first push.

Whether he can do the same against NFL caliber tackles is a different question, I guess. Certainly could leave him flat footed and (even more) vulnerable against the run. But in passing situations, it feels like a technique to bait an over-aggresive first punch.
 

SMU_Sox

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Doesnt the over-exposure of the chest seem like a feature and not a bug? A lot of the highlights I've seen - and that's all I've seen, whereas you're an animal with tape - show a really explosive inside move. It feels like he baits tackles with his chest and then fucking FLIES inside when they try to get the first push.

Whether he can do the same against NFL caliber tackles is a different question, I guess. Certainly could leave him flat footed and (even more) vulnerable against the run. But in passing situations, it feels like a technique to bait an over-aggresive first punch.
That’s something I’d have to research. My first thought is that while setting up an OT for an inside counter later is fantastic, and it’s what guys like Jennings did by the way, you can do it in ways that don’t kill your arc-rush. He has such great burst and bend that if he fixes that part of his rush we’re talking about someone who could get double digit sacks. I will ask around though as it’s an interesting idea.

Edit: there are some rushers like Kenny Willekes who flash their chest and then Ole the tackles and get them off balance that way. Uche doesn’t do that though.
 

SeoulSoxFan

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"Uche" is exactly how my Korean first name is spelled. It was weird hearing it said out loud during the draft. It's going to be that way during the season too.

Of course, he's going to be my binkie rookie not named JJ.
 

BigSoxFan

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"Uche" is exactly how my Korean first name is spelled. It was weird hearing it said out loud during the draft. It's going to be that way during the season too.

Of course, he's going to be my binkie rookie not named JJ.
Hopefully you hear it so much during regular season that you get used to it...
 

Shelterdog

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"Uche" is exactly how my Korean first name is spelled. It was weird hearing it said out loud during the draft. It's going to be that way during the season too.

Of course, he's going to be my binkie rookie not named JJ.
I think I've told you this before but on Thanksgiving a few years ago my 할모니 all of the sudden got real excited when she saw a player with "Suh" on his jersey.

She stopped caring when she learned he wasn't korean.
 

SeoulSoxFan

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I think I've told you this before but on Thanksgiving a few years ago my 할모니 all of the sudden got real excited when she saw a player with "Suh" on his jersey.

She stopped caring when she learned he wasn't korean.
How did she feel about Eugene Chung? /duck

Chung actually played for 5 seasons in all, longer than an average NFL player. He's been an OL coach for the Eagles and the Chiefs the last few years as well.

Like your 할머니, I also got real excited when seeing another player named "Chung" drafted in 2009. Quickly found out Patrick had no Korean blood in him whatsoever (1/4 Chinese from his dad's side + 3/4 Jamaican).

P. S. I quickly looked up other Koreans in the NFL. Besides Eugene Chung, here they are:
  • QB Kyler Murray (Korean mom and my current non-Patriot binkie)
  • WR Hines Ward (Korean mom and became a mini-celebrity here after winning the SB)
  • S Will Demps (surprised? me too -- the former Raven's mom is Korean)
  • K Younghoe Koo (wait a bit so I can wipe this tear from my eye)
  • K John Lee (1st Korean ever to be drafted in the NFL as a 49ers' 2nd round pick)
Other notable Asian players:
  • LB Teddy Bruschi (Filipino mom)
  • LB Dat Nguyen (full Vietnamese)
  • S Taylor Rapp (Chinese mom)
  • WR Johnny Morton (Japanese mom)
  • QB Roman Gabriel (Filipino dad; the 1969 league MVP and first Asian-American ever to be drafted)
Although not ethnically Korean, I was surprised to find out that the former Patriot Kyle Love was born in Seoul. His dad was stationed there when he was born.
 

DourDoerr

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Thanks for sharing that. The footage of him in coverage was especially encouraging regarding his responsibility awareness. Potentially gives the D a lot of looks. Really encouraging to see and looking forward to the unveiling.
 

mwonow

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Thanks for sharing that. The footage of him in coverage was especially encouraging regarding his responsibility awareness. Potentially gives the D a lot of looks. Really encouraging to see and looking forward to the unveiling.
Ditto, thanks for sharing! And great first step, too - Uche seems very quick off the mark
 

BusRaker

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"Uche" is exactly how my Korean first name is spelled. It was weird hearing it said out loud during the draft. It's going to be that way during the season too.

Of course, he's going to be my binkie rookie not named JJ.
I tried to find out how to pronounce it properly (like EWWW-chey ) and supposedly it's a NIgerian name. My biggest fear was that it was pronounced the same as "YYYYOOOOOUUUUKKKKKK"

 

SMU_Sox

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I am archiving the notes I took in a slack channel on the draft and of all the mini-reports I did I think I am the happiest with Uche's. Agreeing on an evaluation is great but common. The challenging part is the valuation and the scheme fit. Seeing what Uche could do or could fill in for and why he might be of value to the Patriots ( especially given who departed this off-season) was something in hindsight I got right. Also a little nugget at the start on research for each position. I spent a good chunk of time just researching technical aspects of each position. For those who are interested in this stuff I found that writing what you see helps retain what you read or watched on youtube from coaching clinics or teaching demos. At least I know it helped my shitty memory :)
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Full discloser: I got Jennings scheme fit wrong and talked myself out of the Patriots scheme fit (said 4-3 DE only and not athletic enough for them). I knocked him too much for lack of ankle bend and athleticism. Whoops. Lesson learned.
 

EL Jeffe

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Uche signed his four year deal today. I cannot even tell you how excited I am for the Josh Uche Experience.