2020 NFL Draft Profile: Utah State LB David Woodward
Is USU’s David Woodward a Day 2 pickup?
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What will teams think of Woodward?
David Woodward is a classic challenge for front offices to sort out on Days 2-3 of the NFL Draft. Most of the things within his control put Woodward at least in the late-round conversation. Stellar football IQ, lateral mobility and undeniable toughness give the linebacker out of Utah State legitimate upside. Unfortunately, a few glaring flaws will make scouts nervous about his trajectory in professional football.
The Olympia native earned his first haul of collegiate accolades in 2018, tallying a MWC-best 134 tackles, 12 tackles for loss, two forced fumbles, two interceptions and five sacks. Woodward’s efforts netted him first-team all-conference honors, third-team AP All-American honors and first-team all-American honors by Pro Football Focus. Woodward’s 2019 was shaping up to be another monster statistical year (93 tackles, five TFL, two sacks and four FF) before suffering a season-ending knee injury seven games in.
Woodward’s intelligence and ability to quickly gravitate to the ball consistently puts him in a position to make plays. He’s a sure tackler with a knack for forcing fumbles with well-timed hits (or simply robbing ball-carriers when the game is on the line). Woodward plays controlled, composed football outside the box but boasts a good burst of closing speed. The sheer volume of tackles he’s racked up are the result of good instincts and always finding a way to being the first man to the ball.
Woodward just might not be physically built to play a long career. His injury history alone will drop him a round or two (knee, vertebrate, multiple concussions) and his size and arm length are well below the standard NFL linebacker build. His athleticism also won’t keep up with running backs or tight ends in space, and he doesn’t offer much variety in terms of where defenses can move him on the field. Woodward could also struggle to shed blocks due to lack of length.
If healthy (which is not a phrase with which teams like to start evaluations), Woodward provides upside to early-down 4-3 sets as well as special teams play. Good things happen around him, and despite his size his IQ is high enough to maximize the tools he does have. The medical red flags will keep him on the draft board a little too long, but eventually someone will take a flier on him and be pleased with what they find, probably in the late fifth or early sixth round.