Darrian Beavers, Cincinnati LB | NFL Draft Scouting Report

With an impressive 2022 NFL Draft Scouting report, how high can Cincinnati LB Darrian Beavers ascend in this linebacker class?

Linebacker Darrian Beavers is one of several Cincinnati prospects who have risen to prominence in the 2022 NFL Draft following the Bearcats’ exceptionally successful college football campaign. That said, Beavers has yet to receive the same national attention as teammates Ahmad Gardner, Desmond Ridder, and Myjai Sanders. As his scouting report reveals, it might be time to give Beavers the credit he deserves in this class.

Darrian Beavers NFL Draft Profile

  • Position: Linebacker
  • School: Cincinnati
  • Current Year: Graduate Senior
  • Height: 6’4″
  • Weight: 252 pounds
  • Wingspan: 81″
  • Arm: 32 5/8″
  • Hand: 9 5/8″

Darrian Beavers Scouting Report

We’ve regularly commented in these 2022 NFL Draft scouting reports that there are several deeply talented position groups in this class. As more detailed film study takes place down the stretch of the process, new prospects come to the fore that perhaps didn’t receive the initial recognition they deserved or simply have developed so impressively during the 2021 college football campaign that they asserted themselves in this class.

One such NFL Draft prospect at the linebacker position is Cincinnati standout Beavers. A physical, imposing, intelligent LB prospect who possesses versatility both from a positional and schematic perspective, Beavers should be high on the radar for teams who are multiple in their defensive formations.

Beginning his scouting report with the football intelligence that allows Beavers to be so versatile, the Cincinnati linebacker reads the game exceptionally well. He showcases the ability to diagnose run concepts and react to them accordingly. Furthermore, as a pass rusher, he identifies pass-rush moves to take advantage of specific situations. Finally, in coverage, he’s adept in zone. He’s able to drop to the correct depth and identify players entering his zone.

While his football intelligence is impressive, Beavers plays the game with the physicality you’d expect from his size. He’s able to use his strength to be a bully in all facets of the game. He can shock blockers with his strength and hit power. Additionally, he resembles a stone wall when squaring up to anyone that dares to come through the hole.

Intelligence, physicality, and versatility

Beavers’ physical style helps in his coverage ability. He can easily disrupt even the biggest tight ends with his physicality at the point of attack and down the route. This was demonstrated at the Senior Bowl against Trey McBride, one of the most physical tight ends in this 2022 NFL Draft class.

Physicality doesn’t always translate to success, especially at the NFL level. However, Beavers also possesses the length to disengage from blockers at multiple levels of the defense. It isn’t easy for offensive linemen to keep him at bay, especially when he combines his length and strength to shock at the point of attack.

Beavers began his college career as a pass-rush specialist. He then transitioned to defensive end before returning to linebacker. His experience at DE is apparent, with Beavers possessing some impressive pass-rush moves and ability to win off the edge. He can also set the edge in the ground game.

In summation, Beavers owns an impressive NFL Draft scouting report that should ensure he receives significant attention in April. He has the potential to be a starting middle linebacker but has the versatility to be used in multiple alignments. Currently the 111th overall prospect on Pro Football Network’s Top 300 Big Board, it wouldn’t be a surprise to see Beavers ascend to Day 2 consideration when the 2022 NFL Draft begins.

Areas for improvement

While Beavers has an NFL Draft scouting report that reveals starting NFL potential, his game has some limitations. Furthermore, there are some technical improvements necessary for the next level.

From a technical perspective, he isn’t always an effective tackler. Despite his physicality, he does allow players to elude his advances. At times, his athletic limitations mean that he’s left launching at thin air in a desperate attempt to make a play. This is a bigger problem when his opponent forces him to make a play in space.

While showcasing ability in both zone and man coverage during his Cincinnati career, the latter will be a cause for concern at the NFL level. Against more athletic tight ends, Beavers simply won’t be able to challenge if they pose a vertical threat.

Both the above issues are a result of a limited athletic profile. While he showcases downhill burst and some impressive lateral agility, Beavers has a considerable bulk to haul. This shows up when forced to run toe-to-toe in coverage or chasing down ball carriers. He doesn’t possess impressive speed and looks labored in his movements at times.

Beavers’ Player Profile

Versatility is one of the biggest buzzwords you’ll hear during this process. As we’ve mentioned earlier in his scouting report, and we’ll touch on again later, Beavers is an impressively versatile prospect in this 2022 NFL Draft class. His versatility began at Colerain High School in Cincinnati, where he played both safety and wide receiver.

Beavers’ versatility wasn’t limited purely to the football field, however. A competent basketball player, the Cincinnati native was also a star on the Colerain track team. His 5’8″ high jump sits in the record books as one of the top 10 jumps in school history. An explosive athlete, he also set an alleged 43″ vertical jump and a 4.48-second 40-yard dash at 210 pounds.

A 4.0 GPA student, Beavers added academic success to athletic prowess. The two combined on the football field, with the two-way player showcasing football intelligence and athletic excellence to become a first-team All-Conference selection in both his junior and senior seasons. The impactful safety helped Colerain to an undefeated senior season that saw them finish as a state runner-up.

The success, however, didn’t translate to the recruiting trail. Beavers was a three-star prospect and a top-100 player in Ohio. Yet, he received just four offers as the 157th-ranked safety. While Ball State, Georgia State, and Miami (OH) competed for his signature, the versatile playmaker committed to the University of Connecticut early in 2017.

Beavers’ college football career begins at Connecticut

As a freshman at UConn, Beavers made an immediate impact. While he’d been a safety by trade at the high school level, his size and athletic profile made him a candidate for a transition to linebacker. Seeing time in 12 games, he was predominantly a pass-rush specialist. As a result, he didn’t amass a gaudy stat sheet. Nevertheless, Beavers accumulated 15 tackles (3 for loss) and 3 sacks (2 sacks in a standout game against SMU).

Having impressed with his disruption ability as a pass rusher, Beavers saw time at defensive end in his sophomore season. Making 12 appearances and six starts, he tallied 23 tackles, a team-high 4 sacks, 4.5 tackles for loss, and 2 pass breakups. He showcased his ability against Power Five opposition, logging 5 tackles and a sack against Syracuse. Furthermore, he tallied a sack against Cincinnati, giving them a taste of his skill set.

Beavers transfers to Cincinnati for his junior season

“I picked Cincinnati because of the amazing football program they have there,” Beavers told 247 Sports of his decision to transfer from UConn ahead of his junior season. “I hate to say it, but I was a little homesick while I was at UConn. Loved it here, it was nice seeing another school just to look between the differences. I’m ready for a new experience.”

An ascending player, Beavers tallied more tackles in his junior season at linebacker for Cincinnati than he had during two seasons with UConn. He impressed with 6 tackles against USF. Meanwhile, he had 3+ tackles in six games, racking up 36 tackles with 1.5 tackles for loss and 2 quarterback hurries. Developing off the field as well, he was named to the AAC All-Academic Team.

Beavers’ NFL Draft ascension

As Cincinnati transcended into a national power in the college football arena, Beavers was a key component of their success. In 10 starts, he totaled 58 tackles, 7.5 tackles for loss, 2.5 sacks, 2 interceptions, and 4 pass breakups. He logged 5+ tackles in seven games, featuring a standout performance of 12 tackles, 4 tackles for loss, and 1.5 sacks against UCF.

The Cincinnati LB also shone on the big stage, with an interception in the AAC Championship win over Tulsa and a forced fumble in the Peach Bowl against Georgia. The game against the Bulldogs gave Beavers momentum, opening the 2021 season with at least a half-sack in each of the program’s first five games of the season.

Beavers was once again a big presence in the Bearcats‘ biggest games, shining against Indiana and Notre Dame. During his final season in Cincinnati, the impactful linebacker tallied 91 tackles, 9.5 tackles for loss, 3.5 sacks, 1 interception, and 2 forced fumbles. As a result, he was a finalist for the Butkus Award and a first-team All-AAC honoree.

Importantly in the 2022 NFL Draft process, Beavers earned an invite to the Senior Bowl. While he was in Mobile, he earned praise from Pro Football Network’s team on the ground for showcasing “power and flashed a few different pass-rush moves during individual drills.”  An impressive testing performance at the NFL Combine could see Beavers insert himself as a Day 2 prospect in the NFL Draft, with starting potential at the next level.

Tony Pauline’s scouting report for Darrian Beavers

Positives: Nasty, explosive linebacker with a tremendous upside. Breaks down well, uses his hands to protect himself, and quickly locates the ball handler. Physical, works hard to get involved in the action, and plays to his 40 time.

Displays speed in backside pursuit, cuts off the corners from ball carriers, and stays downfield with running backs in coverage. Explosive at the point, forceful up the field on the blitz, and shoots gaps to defend the run. Forceful defender who displays a lot of suddenness in his game.

Negatives: Must improve his ability in coverage. Slow recognizing assignments when the ball is in the air. Shows some stiffness in his game. Must develop more moves to get off blocks.

Analysis: Beavers is a high-revving linebacker who forces the action and plays with a nasty attitude. After a terrific senior season, he turned in a tremendous pro day workout that elevated his draft stock.

Beavers is a nice fit on the inside of a 3-4 alignment and can also be used at 4-3 middle linebacker. While he must improve his play in coverage, Beavers looks like a dominant two-down defender for the next level.

Oliver Hodgkinson is an NFL Draft and College Football Analyst for Pro Football Network. Check out the rest of his work here, and you can find him on Twitter: @ojhodgkinson.

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