2018 Raiders Draft Prospect Profile
Name: Nick DeLuca
School: North Dakota State University
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Few players improved their draft stock as Nick DeLuca did at the Senior Bowl. In practices and during the all-star tilt, the North Dakota State University inside linebacker displayed his talents by simply being all over the field and making plays.
Manning the Bison’s Mike position, DeLuca is not going to impress with scintillating speed or outstanding measureables that other prospects bring to the table. Yet, he simply gets the job done. That is an endearing quality coaches strive to get.
That said, his NFL combine numbers, for better or worse, will impact his draft outlook. Teams remain enamored with timed speed and measureables.
New Raiders head coach Jon Gruden spoke highly of the Bison’s football program during a coaches’ clinic back in April.
“I think what my observation is that this is not a good program — it’s a great program,” Gruden said. “This is a five-star operation, and I think this program – if you’re willing to spend the time to investigate it, look at it, study it – you’ll want to send your kids here to play.”
Here, they’re finishers,” Gruden added. “A lot of these players, these Bison, they come out here polished. They play five years, and they’re mature men when they come out here.”
Regardless if the Raiders re-up NaVorro Bowman, Oakland glaring lack of depth means seizing players even if they are “redundant”. DeLuca competes with Marquel Lee at inside linebacker while also providing a willing special teams player. While not as flashy as his highly regarded counterparts at the position, DeLuca profiles as an intelligent Greg Biekert-type middle linebacker does.
Smart player who can digest pre-snap reads and react post snap. A downhill attacker due to his sound instincts to flow to the ball and make the tackle. This allows him to be a high-volume tackler. Uses combo of brains and braun well in both run and pass coverage. Has the size and overall athleticism to be an every-down middle linebacker. Shows good anticipation and timing when sent to blitz. Mingling at outside linebacker gives him added range.
Heady playmaking has its downside — overthinking. DeLuca gets caught up in the diagnosis process and does not fully trust his instincts resulting hesitation. Does pass coverage chops translate to the NFL level? Competition level remains a concern for any athlete coming out of smaller programs. Injury history will concern many teams. Red flags include a shoulder injury, which cost DeLuca much of the 2016 season and a torn meniscus to start this past year.
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