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UDFA Scouting Report: James Bernard, LB, Winston Salem State University

, OLB/ILB, Winston-Salem State

Strengths: Bernard is a player that shows his versatility by being able to line up as both an outside linebacker, and an inside linebacker. He plays with a high motor that allows him to move around the field with good range.  When engaged, he uses good hand placement to be able to shed a blocker with a decent rip move.  He can find the ball quickly in traffic, and wrap up the ball carrier well with decent form.  As an OLB, he can get into the backfield from the edge, and cause trouble for the offense.  When lined up as an ILB, he can make reads at a decent rate, and cover the RB in man coverage.  He shows some flashes of being able to drop back & play zone coverage.

Weaknesses: Bernard has a first step that’s decent, but not great. Despite playing with a high motor & good range, he tends to be stiff with his movements.  He doesn’t show much lower body strength or power moves to be able to drive a blocker backwards when engaged.  While he can get to the ball carrier & wrap him up, he doesn’t always take the best pursuit angles, especially in the open field.  His ability to cover a TE in man coverage will be questioned, along with his ability to drop back & play zone coverage consistently.  His level of competition & production will be looked at closely too.

Summary: Bernard is a versatile player that can play as either an OLB or ILB. While he doesn’t have the best first step, he has a high motor, and can play with good range.  He uses good hand placement to be able to shed blocks with a rip move, and can wrap up the ball carrier after finding the ball quickly.  He can rush into the backfield from the outside, and reads plays from the inside, along with being able to cover RBs in man coverage.  At the pro level, he needs to show that he can improve his lower body strength & flexibility as he tends to be stiff.  He also needs to be able to develop power moves, improve his pursuit angles, and show that he can play zone coverage on a consistent basis.  Two big question marks for him will be: Can he make the transition from playing Division II ball for the Winston-Salem State Rams to the pro level, and can be productive for a full season after not putting up a lot of numbers?  If he’s given about two years of solid coaching & development, I believe James Bernard can a serviceable linebacker for a team willing to have him.

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