Position Ranking: #2
Strengths: Plays with consistently good technique and gap discipline. Natural when taking on blockers, extends arms and bends at the knees to properly disengage. Played all three linebacker positions. Good overall instincts, and goes through his read & keys before releasing in pursuit. Reacts well to the cutback lane and is steady with containment. Attacks downhill against the inside isolation runs. Good footwork in his shuffle. Has the hips/ feet to be effective in underneath coverage. 3-down linebacker who played zone coverage regularly and was asked to spy athletic quarterbacks. Takes good angles to the ball carrier and has the speed to consistently get out in front (when healthy). Has been a starter since his freshman year. Team captain.
Needs Improvement: Doesn’t show burst in his release or when closing on the ball carrier. Isn’t always quick to disengage from lineman (despite technique) and will need to improve his overall strength. Could improve his aggressiveness, at times it looked as if he was going through the motions; won’t always attack lineman or run hard against plays away from him. Tackling technique was off/on. Wasn’t used much close to the line scrimmage or on blitz calls.
Bottom Line: Sturdivant missed 5 games this season and didn’t look fully healthy until his final game once he returned. When he’s healthy and playing loose his physical abilities are very sound. He was clearly a better player last season, and the season prior, as he had better support along the front four. Sturdivant’s instincts, technique, and gap discipline are professional level. His size and overall athleticism are starter caliber if placed in the right system.
The best fit for Sturdivant would be to remain in a 4-3, zone dominant scheme, which is employed by many NFL teams. Playing the weakside in a Tampa-2 would be an ideal spot, as Sturdivant would be free to roam and have the protection up front to be the player he was the two previous seasons. Overall, Sturdivant isn’t a dynamic or powerful linebacker but is a consistent, solid football player with good measurables, who won’t give up many big plays due to missed assignments or inabilities.
Draft Projection: Mid 2nd to mid 3rd round.