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Jake Hummel UDFA profile

Cyclone Quiz Bowl Team

I wasn't expecting to find anything when I started watching Iowa State linebacker, Jake Hummel. The better regarded ISU LB was Mike Rose, who was ranked 167th on Drafttek and was listed as the best undrafted ILB by ESPN, ranked 195th overall. Hummel wasn't ranked at all on Drafttek, Draftcountdown or ESPN. Chad Reuter had Rose as the 6th best UDFA linebacker, while Hummel was only ranked 24th (2 spots ahead of Josh Ross from Michigan). Rose had a 5th round projection from Lance Zierlein. If Rose was a priority UDFA and Hummel is at least a tier or two below that, could he be anything more than a camp body, maybe a candidate for a special teams role or a practice squad depth guy?

I feel the draft experts and NFL teams are wrong about this player. Not only does Jake Hummel have a legitimate chance to make an NFL roster, I'd go so far to say that I believe Hummel has the potential to someday compete for a starting LB job. I could see his career being similar to that of Scott Shanle, who the Rams drafted in the compensatory section of the 7th round near the end of the 2003 draft. The Rams lost him on waivers his rookie year. He served as a backup player for the Dallas Cowboys for a couple years, then later became a starter for the Saints, including the year they beat Peyton Manning and the Colts in the Super Bowl.

Hummel isn't a very physically impressive linebacker, but he's a smart player, both on the field and in the classroom. He was a 4 time first team Academic All Conference selection in college. If he joined forces with Kolar, the ISU TE who had a 3.99 GPA in engineering, those guys could probably clean up in an NFL draft Jeopardy event.

I see Hummel as a better player than Troy Reeder and if I had known about this guy earlier, I would have graded him as a 6th to 7th round draft prospect.

Background

6'1 7/8'' tall, 225 pounds, 32 3/8'' arms, 10'' hands, 77 1/4'' wingspan. Iowa State listed him at 235 pounds, so I don't know if 225 was really his playing weight or if he dropped down just for the draft process.

4.51 sec (40 time), 1.56 sec (10 yard split), 2.55 sec (20 yard split), 37'' vert jump, 10'6'' broad, 4.3 sec (shuttle), 6.83 sec (3 cone), 21 bench reps.

Hummel is undersized to play as a 3-4 ILB, but he plays bigger than his listed size due to technique, hand usage and aggressiveness. If we lined up their attributes, everything from how they were used in college, their versatility, their testing scores and their intelligence, an example of a LB who I don't think is that much better than Hummel is Pete Werner of the Saints, who was a 2nd round pick in 2021.

3 star recruit. 23 years old. Double major in business analytics and finance. Played ST in 2017, then was a backup in 2018 and 2019. Made 12 starts in 2020 with 77 tackles, 4.5 TFLs, 3 PBU and a FF. Made 13 starts in 2021 with 80 tackles, 5.5 TFLs, 4 PBU, 2 INTs and a sack.

Career 3 INTs, 12 PD, 2 sacks, one FF.

He played as an OLB and there were times he was lined up way out in the slot and wasn't in the box or was just an edge containment guy responsible for defending WR screens and forcing the RB back inside.

Lance Zierlein 5.68 draft grade (bottom of roster or PS), consistent player, core special team potential, average play recognition, spotty paths when pursuing wide runs, duped by play action, needs to get downhill better to beat blocks and slip blocks better.

Strengths

Did well covering pivot routes, staying connected and changing directions to prevent separation. Adequate length and feel when covering TEs and WRs in short area of the field to squeeze passing windows. Good short area burst in zone coverage after play action fake helped him get an INT. Got a pick six off of a bad late pass intended to the RB in the flat. The TE is running a rub route for the RB stacked behind the TE. Hummel does a great job to dip around the TE so that he doesn't get picked off, then stays glued to the RB as the RB runs an angle route, preventing separation and discouraging the pass. Sound footwork in his zone drop, can flip his hips and change direction of his shuffle. Covered RB well on wheel route.

In Tampa 2 coverage, has short area burst to accelerate and get under a deep post route to shrink the passing window.

Takes proper angles to maintain edge containment. Doesn't have eyes glued on the opponent in front of him, he is able to feel the blocker while he's simultaneously reading the movement of the OL or looking into the backfield for keys, then responds by consistently taking on the block with the proper shoulder and leverage in response to how the play is developing. Quick reaction to draw plays. Reads pull blockers coming and attacks the designed hole, spilling the run outside. Aggressively attacked downhill against zone run and force the RB back towards other defenders.

Disciplined in his positioning, doesn't overpursue or jump into the wrong gap. Takes sound pursuit angles, goes to where the runner is heading, not to where he is, smart pursuit angle paid off with key downfield tackle on long screen pass. Detailed in his stance and body positioning when in zone so that he can scan the field while he moves and reacts to routes and to the QB.

Fundamentally sound tackler, tries to wrap up or grab the legs of the runner. Makes small and quick corrections in his body positioning so that he can come to balance and be in a loaded and powerful position when he hits the runner or to take on a lead blocker, this is one "hidden" reason he plays bigger than his listed size. Makes tackles outside of his assigned gap, has decent effective tackle radius.

Reliable force defender, takes proper attack angles to force the runner back towards his help. Uses his hands to maintain leverage on the block against climbing G. Quickly recognizes zone runs and jumps to the proper side of WR blocks. Physically and aggressively attacked TE lead blocking and stuffed the TE at the LOS. Protects his legs well against blocks and stays on his feet. Attacks both G and OT blockers appropriately, saw pull blockers coming and attacked the pulling RT aggressively.

Good sense of when to be selectively aggressive and physical. Sacrifices his body to take out OL and move TE blockers. Senses climbers coming towards him at 2nd level and jumps to side, then rip move to get off of them. Dips his shoulder under blocks. After setting the edge or forcing the run inside, he has counters to get back to the other side of the block so that he can help get in on the tackle. Sneaky slam on the breaks move beat center's block at 2nd level.

His good 3 cone time translates to the field. Able to sink hips and turn to change directions when reacting to the play so that he can accelerate to pursue or flow towards the action.

In zone coverage can simultaneously widen to react to threat of WR screen while looking back in the opposite direction to read the QB and react if the screen is just disguise for a different play.

Adds some value as an extra pass rusher and blitzer. Agile enough to jump to side of RB pass blocks to avoid taking a direct hit. Cagey move got inside of OT and slammed into the QB. Quick recognition and trigger on green dog blitzes.

Has the potential to develop into a 3 down NFL linebacker who has skills against the run, defending the pass and rushing the QB in the pocket.

I wasn't able to find any info about any major injuries with him.

Very intelligent with team oriented personality.

Could be able to play immediately and contribute even as a rookie. He has a good feel for the game, sound fundamentals and good football IQ, so he should be able to learn the scheme quicker than normal. Not a player who requires a redshirt season.

Weaknesses

Average length. RBs can step out of some of his diving tackles due to limited arm length. Small to play in the box in the NFL. Spent more time on the edge in college where he had the advantage of a different angle and sometimes faced WR blockers, but not as likely to hold the POA against bigger OL who are coming more directly towards him up the middle as an ILB.

Size of a 4-3 WILL, but doesn't have the speed to play that role. Maybe he's better than Bryce Hager, but possibly not by enough to make much difference in his NFL role and career.

Not tall or long enough to challenge bigger pass catching NFL tight ends.

Too small and not explosive enough to be a dangerous pass rusher and blitzer.

Average speed and ability to cover ground in pedal and when bailing from the LOS to get depth in coverage.

Didn't sense the pass in the air coming or react to it well, nearly giving up a huge pass play when the RB separates late and gets away from him.

Made a mental mistake in zone coverage that left RB wide open in the flat. There was a play where he got fooled when the TE crossed the field on a play action pass, but I wasn't sure whether to count it against him, because due to a mistake in the offensive formation the TE wasn't an eligible receiver.

Doesn't have elite speed. Unable to run down slot WR in open field.

Sometimes late to find the ball with his eyes.

Not a heavy hitter. Only forced one fumble in his college career.

Was a reliable player in college, but he wasn't a disruptive playmaker. Limited number of TFLs. He's the type of player who will take out the lead blocker so that someone else can make the tackle and get the glory. A complementary defender, not a lead dog, alpha star.

Low ceiling player. Already mostly developed, has limited upside growth.

Rams Outlook

I could see Jake Hummel being as high as the 3rd LB for the Rams this year, behind Bobby Wagner and Ernest Jones. Even though he wasn't drafted, Hummel has a decent shot at making the final roster.

LZ's draft profile makes it sound like Hummel is a bad player who lacks awareness, but I don't agree with this evaluation. I like how Hummel does things on the field and how he reacts to each situation. I also think that the experts underestimate his level of athleticism. They make it sound like he plays slow, but I feel that some of this was just due to his role in the defense. When he needed to turn on the speed, Hummel showed good short area burst, agility to change directions and lower body strength when taking on blockers. But, his role wasn't to be a run and hit chase LB. His role wasn't to play in the middle and attack downhill through gaps in the line. Much of the time, his job was to be a containment and force defender and he did his job well.

Hummel is a good football player and is underrated. Down the road, I wouldn't be surprised if he gets an opportunity to start at LB, whether for the Rams or for some other NFL team. He's better than an ordinary, run of the mill UDFA linebacker. I think Jake Hummel is one of the best UDFAs the Rams signed this year, maybe number one.