Fred Warner, LB
School: BYU | Conference: Independents
College Experience: Senior | Age: 22?
Height / Weight: 6-3 / 236 lbs
Projected Draft Status: 3rd Round or 4th Round
NFL Comparison: Luke Kuechly
Fred Warner was a 4-star prospect from San Marcos, California. Warner received offers from USC, Washington, and Nebraska to name a few schools but said he knew the system and thought he would get the chance to play as a freshman at BYU. Warner was recruited as and played outside linebacker at BYU. He had quite a bit of autonomy on the field. He made calls and adjustments to the defense. He was allowed to roam the field and pick his spots. Warner has an impressive athletic profile with a 40 time and short shuttle that are very impressive for a linebacker. His athleticism also can translate when comparing him to safties as well.
Aside from his plus athleticism Warner excels in coverage and may be the best linebacker in the class at it in terms of ability. He has some impressive skills to work with especially in this modern era of football where hybrid players are becoming more and more common. Some teams will see Warner as an outside linebacker, others will see him as a hybrid safety/linebacker. Some have floated the idea that Warner should move inside and play linebacker. There is no way I would do that if I were a defensive coordinator. It limits his talent as a roaming player if he is given a rigid position with rigid duties. Also, Warner is not built for the middle. In many ways, he is a finesse player. He struggles with taking on and getting off blocks and is easily moved from his spot and can be engulfed by blockers. He offers very little as a pass rusher. His read and react ability is also suspect as he can be completely fooled by RPOs and play-action if he isn't committed to coverage initially. If Warner goes to a team with a dedicated plan for him that uses his talent at multiple ‘positions’ or even considers him as a ‘positionless’ player he could be very productive.
- Excellent speed and athleticism for a linebacker.
- Excels in coverage and his instincts are a day and night difference when he drops back and has things in front of him. His hesitation and delayed reactions are masked in coverage because he has excellent recovery speed and fluidity in his hips. He can close quickly and break up passes
- Roaming player who can make an impact back in coverage near the LOS and in-between if used correctly.
- Smart player who was given the reigns to the defense and got his teammates in position and made calls.
- Might not have a clear position to a lot of teams and will require purposeful planning and placement on the field within the defensive scheme.
- Painful to watch in the run game and a lot of times was a non-factor. He cant get off blocks on the edge or the interior. Linemen, tight ends, and even fullbacks can engulf him and completely take him out of a play. Disengage/pass rush skills are not there and when he is at the LOS read and react ability and instincts slow down exponentially. You could sell him a loaf of bread and a carton of milk the way he bites on RPOs and play-action.
- Motor and effort are serious question marks. He gives up on some plays early and lets his teammates to the work entirely too much while he is the spectator. Strikes me as a 70/30 effort player - he holds something back just enough to make it obvious and really annoying to watch at times.
- Arm tackler whose overall technique needs to be improved. Too many players got away from him when they should have been down. Wish he had some thump too.
Let’s see his work:
This is stupidly good coverage by Fred Warner. Like this shouldn't be fair. pic.twitter.com/Aw37Iu1ne4— The Mick Nartin™ (@themicknartin) April 4, 2018
I didn't realize Fred Warner has the hips and click close ability of a CB. pic.twitter.com/zLF44lEotA— The Mick Nartin™ (@themicknartin) April 4, 2018
Fred Warner may not be the best at taking on blocks, but he is a stud in coverage, which is exactly what is needed in the NFL. pic.twitter.com/O4fw8UIS3z— West Coast Scout (@CaddytotheLama) February 24, 2018
How He Would Fit On The Redskins
I can only imagine how polarizing a player Warner is right now in draft rooms. Teams who already have a hybrid defender on their rosters should show interest as well as 4-3 teams looking for a hyper-athletic WILL linebacker. He was asked to contain and cover at BYU and didn't really get the chance to attack downhill. Maybe I am completely wrong about his potential fit with the Redskins but projecting him to a role which he never played and then inferring that he would be much better and his weaknesses would dissipate is speculatory at best. I was not expecting to see the miles wide gap in his ability to cover and his ability to play the run. While that was disappointing I can definitely see him being successful in the right environment on the right team. That is not going to be nor should it be the Redskins. I have serious doubts about Warners ability to play inside linebacker because of his weaknesses nor would I want him there because of his weaknesses specifically his ability to get off blocks and motor concerns. Not so long ago the Redskins drafted a hybrid safety/linebacker in Su’a Cravens and the defense he played in pidgeon-holed him to an inside linebacker role which we now know he hated. It limited his abilities. I would hate to make the same mistake twice. The Broncos, by the way, have shown a good deal of interest in Warner this draft process. If the team wants an inside linebacker they should draft a player with that skill set. If the team wants a safety they should draft a player with that skill set since the defense calls for pretty traditional roles and positions. If the Redskins defense struck me as willing to fully accommodate a hybrid player I would be much more excited about him. Warner has many ‘positions’ or is ‘positionless’ and should be used heavily in nickel sub packages at the next level. He has a lot to work on but if everything goes right he can be a really good player.