By PFC Draft Writer Philip Arnold (@PhilipArnold20)
Inside Linebacker Kevin Minter
Kevin Minter was a bit over looked at LSU on the eighth ranked defensive unit in the nation. Safety Eric Reid and Defensive End Barkevious Mingo seemed to steal the show, while Minter was the most consistent player on that unit. Minter is considered the best overall inside linebacker in this draft. Minter leaves LSU a year early after earning All-SEC and All-American honors, with the opportunity of become a 3 down linebacker early in his NFL career.
Minter is a well rounded linebacker who is very good with his hands. Minter posses good skills in defending the run, mainly in his ability to take on blocks and defeat them with the use of his hands. He is a physical ILB who plays well in congested areas and isn’t afraid to deliver a punishing blow on potential blockers, forcing them back into the ball carrier. Minter also shows good ability to tackle in the open field and in congested areas due to his strong ability in taking good angles on ball carriers.
When ball carriers defeat Minter to the outside it isn’t due to angles like a lot of linebackers, it is because Minter lacks lateral speed and athleticism. Minter plays in one, aggressive speed, and lacks the ability to kick it into a second gear laterally. Along with Minter’s lack of lateral speed he doesn’t have much range in pass coverage. Minter also needs to work on his field awareness. Minter can get lost in misdirection and delay plays. He has shown weaknesses in overrunning these types of plays and putting him in bad positions.
Minter has a 6 foot frame weighing 246 lbs. at the combine. Minter can be a 3 down player in the NFL with the ability to stuff the run and rush the Quarterback. Minter plays under control but yet has a mean attitude which makes him a good middle linebacker.
As a junior this season Minter was selected a team captain and is a respected player by his teammates. He graduated in December of 2012 from LSU with his degree in general studies. He finished the Chick-Fil-A Bowl against Clemson with 19 tackles and a sack, also racking up 20 tackles and two sacks against Florida, showing his mental focus to prepare for big games.
Minter boasts a 130 tackle count (3rd in the SEC) due to his great ability in run support. Minter attacks blockers and does a tremendous job using his hands, extending his arms to defeat would be blockers, and keeping good pad level to make plays. He is very skilled at taking angles on ball carriers to make up for a lack in lateral speed. In congestion and trash Minter does a good job of finding the ball carrier and bringing him down. At LSU Minter didn’t need hefty Nose Tackles clogging up space and taking on double teams to keep him free and he won’t at the NFL level.
Minter’s best ability in pass coverage has came from playing spy and robber coverage. In zone coverage schemes Minter has the ability to get into his drops and read the quarterback. His biggest concerns will come in man coverage. Will he have the athleticism and speed to run with the more athletic tight ends on seam routes is Minters biggest concerns. Another concern with Minter is his ability to read play action. Minter can get caught with his eyes in the backfield and a tight end corner route that was caught for a touchdown against Mississippi State is a good example. Play action in the NFL is bread and butter for teams, especially with the new styles of offenses being integrated, such as the Redskins who use a lot of play faking. Minter will need to improve his skill at reading offensive lineman keys and get his eyes out of the backfield. Minter can also be caught flat footed in crossing routes which may pose a problem at the next level.
Minter shows strong promise in his blitzing ability. He is very skilled in timing blitzes and showed that against Florida when he brought down Quarterback Jeff Driskell before he could even make the play fake. Though he only recorded four sacks this past season, Minter plays with smart football intelligence and uses that to his advantage on his blitz paths causing disruption of timing.
Kevin Minter earns his pay inside the tackles and has a nose for finding the football. Minter totaled double digit tackles in 5 games and at least 2 TFL’s in 3 games this year, while playing against top tier SEC talent such as Florida and Texas A&M. He uses his skills to defeat and blow blocks up to secure tackles and bring ball carriers down. One mistake and flaw Minter tends to make in tackling is overrunning plays causing him to lunge at ball carriers Like stated in his weakness’s, Minter can get lost in misdirection and delay plays and causes him to be in bad position for tackles.
Draft Predictions and NFL Fits
Minter will fit best in a 4-3 defensive unit. Minter is a true Mike Linebacker and the 4-3 would suit him best allowing him to be strong in run responsibilities, which Minter is best at and play zone coverage. Minter has the skill set to be a early contributor for his drafted team, potentially becoming a starter and 3 down player in the NFL. Minter could have teams taking him in the late first round, but he may possibly drop into the second.
New York Jets (2.8)