Player name: Aaron Wallace
H/W: 6'3 240
Position: Outside Linebacker
School / Class: UCLA / RS Senior
Measureables: 4.59 40, 36" vertical, 10'10" broad jump, 7.35 3 cone, 25 bench press reps
- Scheme / Positional Versatility - Wallace is a jack of all trades, master of none type of linebacker that played in both the 4-3 and 3-4 during his Bruins career. He was utilized as both a weakside and strongside linebacker in the 4-3 early on until UCLA transitioned to a 3-4. In the 3-4, he was used primarily as an edge rusher but dropped back a lot into coverage as well. DC Dick LeBeau and company will have a lot of fun lining up Wallace everywhere in the front seven as his trademark.
- Athleticism / Footwork - Lateral agility is a major plus. Can get sideline to sideline in a decent amount of time. Has enough strength and power in his game to hold on against the bigger tackles he has faced before utilizing an underrated first step to get by. Isn't fazed by any of the background "noise" that blockers throw up in an effort to outsmart him. Footwork while rushing the passer is very good. Knows when to hunker down and use leverage in his base to blow by the tackle. Pursuit speed is above average as well and can catch up to most skill position players.
- "Always have a containment plan" - Wallace was generally in the right spots at the right time to make the tackle in most cases. He holds up very well at the point of attack, which freed up his teammates to make plays around him. Once he understands his assignment, he executes it to the letter. Rarely lets a play get by him.
- Experience / One hit wonder? - Although he is a redshirt senior, he does not have much experience as a starter. Granted, he was stuck behind some major NFL talent. However, a player of his talent should have carved out a bigger role than he had until his senior season. It took an injury to stud linebacker Myles Jack for Wallace to see the field on a consistent basis. Still, 2015 wasn't a total loss as he racked up a lot of stats in a short period of time to garner an invite to the East-West Shrine Game. Led the team in tackles for loss and sacks in limited duty.
- Instincts / Fundamentals - This ties into his lack of game reps as he is still very fundamentally raw for his age group. Instincts are below average and need some serious development in order for him to see the field as a reserve. He has all the talent and bloodlines in the world but isn't as technically refined as one would hope. Doesn't quite know what he is doing but when he connects on something, it's a joy to watch him. At times, his lack of pass rush arsenal failed him and it appeared he was just flailing around hoping to tackle someone. Like fellow Titans rookie Kevin Byard, he's very hesitant to lay the lumber and is just content making the form tackle.
Wallace made some nice plays throughout my studies of UCLA prospects enough to stand out to me. In particular, while looking through Kenny Clark material, he popped off the screen several times against USC and Cal. He has impressive bloodlines as father Aaron Wallace, Senior was a standout linebacker for Texas A&M before having a solid nine year career with the Oakland Raiders. AW2 might be the highest rated HS recruit in the Titans' draft class as a consensus three star native of California. Signed with local school UCLA over dad's alma mater. He is also 1/4 Chinese. Current Titans linebackers coach Lou Spanos coached him for a brief spell.
I do like the pick in that it is just a seventh round pick if Wallace does not pan out as expected. He has a lot of work to do to compete for a roster spot in 2017 but the physical tools are there. He needs a "redshirt" year on the practice squad as he's even more raw than teammate Deiontrez Mount was coming out of college. Fortunately for him, he has Spanos and the legendary LeBeau to help guide him in his development. While he probably won't follow the prototype that the Steelers use with their linebacker development program, he has a shot to make the 53 man roster in 2017. My expectation for him is that he follows the Daimion Stafford track where it takes a couple of years to get it together. The comp that I would use for him is Ernie Sims III of the Lions/Cowboys. Sims was a bowling ball of linebacker that one objective: going downhill but needed some fine tuning on his direction. Wallace is the same way.