James Hearns ESPN Profile
Big, strong and physical, Hearns has a lot of qualities you for in a middle linebacker prospect. He’s ready from a size measurables standpoint to make the jump to the next level. He has the frame to add a bit more bulk, but he’s tall, thick and close to maxed out physically. He makes quick reads versus downhill run plays but can be a step late on play-action and split flow backfield action. He does a very good job meeting blockers in the hole on ISO and power plays. He displays strong take-on and stacking skills and gives up no ground when filling straight-on. He wins the one-on-one battle with his overpowering size and strength or stalemates and jolts blockers back at the point of attack. He stays clean for the most part scraping and clears trash well. He possesses strong hands and upper-body strength to keep blockers off his body. His lateral agility and quickness through traffic for a bigger ‘backer is above average. He can sidestep, but is more effective taking on and filling downhill. He’s a secure wrap-up tackler, will punish the ball carrier, but can let up leaky yardage at times when he comes in high. Overall, he needs to play with more bend and flexibility. He can overrun the ball and lacks sudden change-of-direction to recover. He does show good range and the desire to get to the football outside the hashes, but we feel he will likely be limited to short-range production in college and will need to improve his athleticism to hold up in coverage and overall in space. He shows good run blitz timing and is productive on or off the line of scrimmage. He has the size and potential playing strength to line up on the LOS and control the TE. He has good edge rush ability and hand use with a short burst to the QB. Those assets could keep him on field in passing situations. He offers game plan alignment flexibility and should also be productive on special teams. With improved pad level and flexibility, Hearns projects to be a productive inside backer at the next and will likely start off as a situational run stopper.
Topics: Kentucky Wildcats Football