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Minnesota Football: NFL Draft Profile - LB De'Vondre Campbell

The Gopher linebacker has been turning heads this offseason. Will that translate into a spot in the NFL Draft?

Jerry Lai-USA TODAY Sports

Linebacker De'Vondre Campbell has been something of a hidden gem for the Golden Gophers the last two seasons. Damien Wilson, now playing for the Dallas Cowboys, was the stud of the linebacker corps two years ago, so when he graduated, it was Campbell's turn in the spotlight and he made the most of it. NFL scouts are now starting to figure out why the Minnesota staff plucked him from the junior college ranks, as Campbell has seen his draft stock rise over the last several months.

Combine Results

EVENT RESULT CB RANK NOTES
Height 6'4" --- ---
Weight 232 lbs --- ---
40-Yard Dash 4.58 sec 3rd 31 Participants
Bench Press 16 reps T-25th 28 Participants
Vertical Jump 34 inches T-9th 32 Participants
Broad Jump 116 inches T-15th 32 Participants
3-Cone Drill DNP NA 16 Participants
20-Yard Shuttle DNP NA 20 Participants
60-Yard Shuttle DNP NA 4 Participants

Film

Below is the video that the athletic department produced for Campbell with highlights from last season. The first thing you'll notice is that Campbell is an excellent form tackler. Once he has his hands on you, you're going nowhere. The ability to wrap up properly is one that I've come to appreciate, especially in today's game where form tackling is almost a lost art. His one-handed interception against Purdue is also a perfect example of the length and athleticism he has brought to the Gophers' linebacker corps these last two seasons.

Strengths

  • Campbell has exceptional speed for a linebacker. He was the third fastest linebacker at the NFL Combine, and that caught the attention of a lot of scouts. His coverage skills have been criticized, but his speed and length have allowed him to drop back into coverage and be an effective defender against the pass.
  • He has a nose for the football. His pick six against Michigan in 2014 comes to mind. Whereas a more traditional linebacker like Cody Poock has a reputation for shedding blocks, filling gaps, and piling up tackles, Campbell is an athletic linebacker who knows how to make a play on the ball.
  • His size and frame are exactly what you look for in an NFL linebacker. And he has used that body to deliver some devastating hits over the past couple seasons. He has some trouble diagnosing plays quickly, but once he knows where the football is headed, he explodes to the ball carrier.

Weaknesses

  • He relies too much on his athleticism to make up ground when he fails to diagnose the play quickly. Campbell needs to get better at understanding play designs and anticipating where the ball will be. He too often finds himself behind the play because he is slow to figure out where the ball is going.
  • As I mentioned earlier, his coverage skills leave much to be desired. When he drops back into pass coverage, he tends to occupy space, rather than reading the quarterback or engaging with the receiver. With his speed and athleticism, Campbell could be even more dangerous if he refines his coverage skills.

Potential Teams

Minnesota Vikings

Campbell has met with the Vikings and has been vocal about his desire to play under a coach like Mike Zimmer, even drawing apt comparisons between himself and linebacker Anthony Barr.

Atlanta Falcons

The Falcons have also met with Campbell, and Atlanta is in desperate need of a young and athletic linebacker who can cover running backs and tight ends in pass coverage.

Indianapolis Colts

Campbell has worked out for the Colts and could help at a position of need, especially since Indianapolis could use a linebacker with pass rushing abilities off the edge.

Outlook

Campbell has the size, speed, and athleticism to succeed in the NFL as a key back-up or even a starter at linebacker, but his future will depend on his ability to become a better student of the game and whether or not he can address the weaknesses that are holding him back. Having come to Minnesota as a JUCO prospect, Campbell is far from a finished product, and the scouts know that.

Projection: 4th-6th Round