A leader both statistically and vocally on the field during his four years with the program, Indiana linebacker Micah McFadden heads to the 2022 NFL Draft. His ability to be disruptive in multiple phases of the game should see him draw admirers. What does McFadden’s scouting report tell us about his ability to translate college production to the NFL game?
Micah McFadden NFL Draft Profile
- Position: Linebacker
- School: Indiana
- Current Year: Senior
- Height: 6’1 1/8″
- Weight: 240 pounds
- Wingspan: 74 3/4″
- Arm: 31 1/4″
- Hand: 9 1/2″
Micah McFadden Scouting Report
A four-year player with excellent college production, where does McFadden fit in this 2022 NFL Draft class according to his scouting report? More importantly, what is his NFL projection in terms of what he can contribute and what his ultimate role at the next level can or will be?
Let’s begin McFadden’s scouting report with the Indiana linebacker’s football intelligence. For me, this is the best aspect of his game. McFadden showcases exceptional football IQ, especially in the run game. He routinely diagnoses run plays to a high level, allowing him to be in the right place to make a play with unerring regularity. In the passing game, he sniffs out screen plays easily. Furthermore, he demonstrates an understanding of zone coverage concepts.
McFadden’s intelligence allows him to be a force in the ground game. Once he’s diagnosed the run play, he’s able to impact the game as a bullet-out-of-the-gun downhill threat. McFadden routinely flies to the ball to make a play. When he arrives there, the Indiana linebacker is an impactful tackler who can lay the wood with force when required.
Hard-hitting tackler, pass-game potential, and a vocal leader
On the whole, McFadden’s tackling ability is good. He showcases power with his hit. Furthermore, he’s demonstrated the ability to take correct angles to minimize his chances of missed tackles. McFadden also showcases good technique as a tackler, routinely driving with his shoulder and able to wrap up around the waist.
We’ve already mentioned that McFadden’s intelligence allows him to be impactful in coverage against screens and in zone coverage. However, there’s additional value here from the Indiana linebacker in the passing game.
His downhill trigger means he can be used to blitz with some devastating consequences. This is predominantly as an A-gap blitzer, although there were also examples of him coming around the edge. Furthermore, he’s shown some athletic ability to cover less dynamic tight ends and running backs.
A team captain for two years, McFadden is also a leader and communicator from the MIKE position. Leading by example, he’s a tough competitor that plays with a high motor and rarely takes a play off. As a result, he possesses many of the requisite qualities that NFL teams will look for in an inside linebacker.
Areas for improvement
While McFadden showcase multiple impressive traits in his scouting report, there are some areas for improvement. Furthermore, there are some limitations that will ultimately put a ceiling on his NFL potential. As a probable Day 3 selection, that ceiling will likely be as a rotational inside linebacker. His downhill thumper nature should also ensure some special-teams versatility.
So, what are those limitations? Firstly, despite his ability to be impactful as a tackler, McFadden doesn’t always showcase this physicality at the point of attack. He can be easily moved in the trenches, and there were examples of McFadden being visibly shocked from his position by some offensive linemen, lowering his chances of being disruptive.
That lack of physicality when disengaging from blockers brings another issue to light. With 31 1/4″ arms, McFadden is lacking in the arm length department. This causes further issues with the ability to shed blockers. Furthermore, it causes issues in coverage where McFadden lacks the ability to make a play on the ball at the catch point.
The final limitation is perplexing based on his pro day testing. McFadden posted decent times in agility drills, such as the three-cone. However, on tape, he appears to be a stiffer lateral athlete who doesn’t routinely make smooth changes of direction.
McFadden’s Player Profile
A productive linebacker during his Indiana career, McFadden heads to the NFL Draft with a reputation as a disruptive defensive presence. While his NFL future remains to be written, a brief sojourn into the senior’s past provides a glimpse of where that productive college career came from.
A three-year player for Plant High School in the talent-rich state of Florida, the Tampa native had a standout junior season. Helping lead the Panthers to the state championship game, McFadden tallied 116 tackles that included a ludicrous 45 tackles for loss. Adding 14 sacks, 4 forced fumbles, and an interception, McFadden proved an all-round threat. As a result, he earned first-team All-State, All-County, and All-Conference honors.
The success wasn’t reflected in the recruiting process, however. A three-star prospect by 247 Sports, McFadden held just six offers, including from Boston College. With several former Plant players including Whop Philyor making the move to Indiana, it was a natural landing spot. McFadden also told TampaBay.com that he “just loved everything about the school.”
With his recruitment shut down, the Indiana-bound linebacker put in a sensational senior season. Racking up 211 tackles, including 39 tackles for loss, he added another 2 interceptions to his high school résumé. McFadden also found the end zone with 4 rushing touchdowns and ended his high school career as the 2017 FACA Player of the Year.
McFadden’s career at Indiana
While some players take a season to adapt to the college level, McFadden flashed his disruptive ability immediately in his debut. In the season opener against Virginia, he forced a fumble while registering a tackle for loss. During 12 appearances, he tallied 20 tackles and 2 quarterback hurries in addition to his opening day disruption.
The following season, McFadden asserted himself as a leader of the Indiana LB group. Having set a then career-high 11 tackles against Nebraska, he tallied a team-high 61 tackles during the 2019 campaign. Of those, 10 were for loss as he had at least 0.5 TFL in eight games. Furthermore, the Indiana linebacker added his first career interception against Michigan and followed up with another INT in the season finale against Tennessee.
McFadden’s NFL Draft ascension
Having been a leader statistically in 2019, McFadden assumed the captain role as a true leader on the field. In a shortened season, he produced standout performances against Michigan State and Wisconsin, earning Big Ten Defensive Player of the Week honors against the Badgers. Achieving first-team All-Big Ten accolades and All-American attention from multiple outlets, McFadden tallied 58 tackles, 10.5 tackles for loss, and a Big Ten leading 6 sacks.
Entering the 2021 college football season with a sense of expectation and on the watchlist for multiple defensive awards, McFadden didn’t disappoint. The Indiana linebacker set a career-high 12 tackles against Western Kentucky. He tallied at least a half-tackle for loss in all but two games, ending the season with 15.5 TFL. In half of his games, McFadden logged a sack, and he ended the year with 77 tackles, 2 forced fumbles, and 5 quarterback hurries.
Subsequently, he was named the Indiana Most Valuable Player while taking home second-team All-Big Ten honors. In declaring for the 2022 NFL Draft, McFadden achieved national attention with an invite to the prestigious East-West Shrine Bowl and NFL Combine.
While he only partook in the bench press at the Combine, putting up 21 reps, the Indiana Pro Day allowed McFadden to answer some athletic questions ahead of the NFL Draft. He set a 4.63 40-yard dash, 35″ vertical jump, 9’10” broad jump, 4.15 shuttle, and an impressive 6.88 three-cone. His 9.44 Relative Athletic Score (RAS) saw him rank in the top 10 linebackers in the class based on athletic ability alone.