Name: Dele Harding - Position: LB
Height: 6'1" - Weight: 230 lbs
Pro ceiling: Wesley Woodyard
Analyst : Devin Jackson - @RealD_Jackson
Dele Harding is a tackling machine. So far on the season, he has 121 tackles through ten games, three forced fumbles and 3 interceptions. He is an excellent run defender, and has a unique ability and speed to cover sideline to sideline. In the game against Wisconsin, he was a catalyst in keeping Jonathan Taylor bottled up. Harding also has great run play recognition, and attacking the line of scrimmage to make plays in the backfield. He also has a nose for the ball, causing turnovers and is typically in the right place at the right time. A very cerebral player and rarely misses tackles.
At times, Harding misreads holes or overruns his gap responsibility. Harding also has his fair share of issues trying to drop back and get proper depth in his zone on pass plays. With Illinois playing predominantly Cover 2, there will be concern if Harding can not only maintain proper responsibilities in other zone coverages, but to also cover running backs and tight ends in the NFL. With his coverage skills not being at the same level as his run defense, Harding may be a two down and short yardage linebacker who will need to show improvement while covering.
Games watched: Nebraska, Purdue, Minnesota, Rutgers, Wisconsin
Dele Harding has helped his draft stock tremendously this season. Becoming one of the best linebackers in the conference doesn’t happen overnight. The Illinois defense is full of talent, and for him to constantly be around the ball and constantly making plays for this defense can’t be ignored. Harding is nowhere near the perfect prospect, but if team can pick him, groom him into their scheme, Harding’s ceiling is high. He is only scratching the surface of what he could be as an NFL player.
Best Fits: Oakland Raiders, Cincinnati Bengals, Houston Texans, Green Bay Packers