Josh Hull comes to the Rams from Linebacker factory Penn State. He's known as more of a technician than freak athlete, but that doesn't mean he can't physically perform: Hull had the fastest 20-yard shuttle at the combine and the second fastest 3-cone drill by a mere .01 seconds.
Will the late 7th rounder be able to stick on the roster? I wouldn't bet against him. He's been in this position before and made it work. An ILB from Penn State might seem to offer a better chance of sticking than most, but when you consider he was a walk-on who earned a scholarship, only to end up leading the team in tackles the last two years...I'm telling you, there's something special about those kind of guys and you'd be making a big mistake to count him out based just on long odds. His rise to the NFL did not happen by accident.
Hull only weighs 237 pounds, which is not surprising for someone so incredibly agile, but that's pretty light for an inside backer. Now, let's see....where can someone utelize elite agility and a bona fide tackling pedigree? Oh yeah, Special Teams! While Josh bulks up to NFL size, he can spend Sundays weaving through blockers, locating and killing kick/punt returners like a heat seeking missile.
Adding to his chances of making a career out of the NFL is that he'll be learning under one of the best in the entire league in James Laurinaitis (#4 overall, solo tackles in 2009). The fact that he lead Penn State in tackles, as Laurinaitis did at Ohio State, is a very good sign for someone who will need to outperform his draft position if he wants to make his impact felt on the regular defense. He's not an underachiever that coaches have to coax effort from, so he has a chance of backing up Laurinaitis or being a Special Teams star if he can add some size and strength, and stays healthy.
More information on the hard working Josh Hull below.
NFL.com's take: Grade 4.5
Hull was a two-year starter for Penn State, having a breakout season in 2009. Hull has a good frame but lacks great bulk and power as a run defender. He is a high-effort linebacker that will throw his body around but isn't an explosive player. He needs added weight and strength to hold up at the next level. Hull is an average overall athlete that lacks speed, quickness and range in pursuit. He can be effective in zone coverage's but would be a liability in combination man schemes. Hull is an instinctive player that wins with effort, technique, intelligence and toughness but is clearly an overachiever that likely will only contribute as a back up in the NFL.
Strengths: Tall with a wide frame that can support more bulk. Prepares well, reads fast and is a solid tackler. Maintains consistent technique. Does a good job of following underneath routes when dropping in zone coverage. Former walk-on that brings it every down until the whistle.
Weaknesses: Lacks bulk and does not have the strength to hold in run support and take on larger offensive lineman. Limited athletically with less than adequate speed, burst and lateral agility. Struggles to stick with tight ends and backs in man coverage. Not an explosive hitter.
Sporting News take: Grade 6.0
Positional Rank: 15 (drafted 19 )
Strengths: Is a smart, tough and aggressive run defender. Shows strong hands to shock and shed bigger blockers. Is a strong, physical tackler within a short area. Shows good awareness in zone coverage in short areas. Works past the whistle on every play. Is quick to diagnose plays, and takes good angles to the ball carrier.
Weaknesses: Has only average size and arm length. Is a straight-line, stiff athlete with marginal change-of-direction ability in the open field. Is a liability in man-to-man coverage. Is too stiff and slow to be a quality blitzer. Shows tight hip movements when dropping into zone coverage.
Bottom line: Hull was a walk-on who earned a scholarship because of his work ethic and competitiveness. He has experience rushing the passer as a down lineman. Overall, he is the type of overachiever who can make a roster in the right situation. He lacks athleticism but compensates with good instincts and competitiveness.