HOOVER, Ala. — Tennessee tackling machine Jalen Reeves-Maybin is considered an undersized linebacker by NFL standards, standing 6-foot tall.
Senior Bowl executive director Phil Savage says that might not matter on draft day.
“The undersized linebacker has grown in stature at the pro level because as the spread has trickled up into the NFL, you’re seeing more of these strong safety hybrid “Will” linebackers that have to walk out in space, adjust with personnel and run with tight ends down the seam,” Savage said at SEC Media Days last week at the Wynfrey Hotel.
“Jalen has been very productive, he’s got good instincts, he’s a good tackler, so I think he’s certainly going to be a guy they (NFL scouts) watch closely this year.”
Reeves-Maybin, who led the Vols with 105 tackles last season, is one of three Tennessee seniors who Savage said top the list of UT defenders on the Senior Bowl’s radar.
Defensive end Corey Vereen and cornerback Cameron Sutton are the other two players at the moment.
Savage and his staff scout players all over the nation in fall practices in addition to attending games and reviewing film each week.
Sutton, Savage said, will have plenty of opportunities to prove himself this season.
“He’s going to get a chance to play against some really good players, the Alabama game when he goes against Calvin Ridley, and ArDarius Stewart, that’s going to be a tape that every NFL team pulls out to see how he does,” said Savage, who was a former defensive assistant to Bill Belichick before ascending to NFL GM of the Cleveland Browns.
I think the addition of Bob Shoop as the coordinator there will help him, too, (because) Bob’s training was as a defensive backs coach first, so his emphasis will be on that,” Savage, 51, said. “I really expect us to see Cam Sutton play left, play right, match up with the best receiver. I think they’ll really try to utilize him and showcase his skills up there this year.”
Reeves-Maybin’s status is uncertain entering the start of fall drills on Aug. 1 on account of a shoulder injury he suffered in spring drills.
Reeves-Maybin said at SEC Media Days his goal is to be 100 percent for the Vols’ Sept. 1 season-opening game against Appalachian State at Neyland Stadium.