The Los Angeles Rams are in the market for an inside linebacker in the NFL Draft after letting Cory Littleton walk in free agency. After opting not to replace him with a free agent, it’s most likely that Les Snead and co. will look in the draft. The only question in, how early will they look with players like Kenny Young and Micah Kiser already on the roster.
One of those players who fits the typical Les Snead mold at linebacker in the NFL Draft is Oregon’s Troy Dye.
Dye is the only player in Oregon Ducks history to lead the team in tackles four consecutive seasons as he finished third in program history in career tackles (397) and tied for fourth in tackles for loss (44.0). The inside linebacker started every game after his freshman season and became the first Ducks playe since 1987 with double-figure tackles in five consecutive games.
With the inside linebacker from Norco, California, the Ducks finished first in the Pac-12 for the first time since 2014 last season. Due to his success on the field, Dye was selected as inside linebacker to attend the Senior Bowl and is regarded as one of the top linebacker prospects in the NFL draft.
Dye is an inside linebacker for a reason. He’s a high IQ player with the ability to take control and lead a defense. Due to his IQ and knowledge on the field with the ability to still play at full speed, he’s a read and react player with sideline to sideline ability.
The inside linebacker is extremely athletic with sideline to sideline ability. This is a player you can put in the middle of your defense and trust that he will be in the right spot and know exactly what he’s doing on all three downs. He’s good against the run with the ability to consistently shed blocks, but has the ability to cover tight ends in the middle of the field. He’s an elite-production player with a high motor as he accumulated over 80 tackles and five passes defended in each of his three seasons as a full-time starter.
Dye is a read and react player, but can get his eyes caught in the backfield and times and fall for play action. However, even when he falls for it and comes forward, he has the athleticm and ability to recover. He’s a tad on the smaller side in terms of size for an inside linebacker which leads to him getting beat physically and pushed around.
Three Plays On Tape
Dye is so good in coverage and it’s probably his biggest strength. On this play you see one of his strengths and weaknesses. He falls for the play action, but his athleticim and speed allows him to recover and still get the pass breakup. Dye has the modern build for an inside linebacker. He’s not the biggest player, but he’s fast and his athleticim is off the charts.
Here you get the weakness in the run game. There are times when he can be slow to process. If he can become more consistent in this area, there is no question that he will succeed at the next level. On this play he’s slow to react and read where the play is going, and because of that he ends up on the ground face first after a dive attempt.
Another play in coverage from Dye. This is a player that can cover almost any tight end in the middle of the field. Here he reads the route and the quarterbacks eyes and is able to cut off the pass and turn it into an interception. You can see the fluidity in his movements and again the athleticism to make a somewhat difficult grab.
Dye is a player that can come in and play right away. This isn’t a player that will have to find a role on special teams right out of the gates. Dye can come in and play all three downs on day one. He’s smart enough that he’ll be able to grasp a defense and has the intangibles in which he’ll fit right in. He’ll need to get more consistent against the run, but there is little doubt that Dye will be able to be a high volume tackler in the NFL.
NFL Draft Grade: 2nd Round
Dye has flaws in his game which is why he’s not going to get drafted in the first round and may even slide out of the top-50 in the NFL Draft. However, if a team needs someone to step right in and play middle linebacker, Dye is a great pick. This is an inside linebacker with great athleticism and the abiliity to cover pass-catching tight ends in the middle of the field. He needs to get more consistent in the run game, but that is something that can be coached. He’s a very smart player that will put up big tackle numbers in the NFL.