Tough and active player that is willing to step up and fill against the inside run. Shows ability to break down and wrap up the ballcarrier at the point of attack. Has decent closing burst when he's moving upfield and flashes ability to shoot gaps and get pressure as a blitzer. Shows decent ability to get depth on his zone drops and will key the quarterback, able to break up passes over the middle. Capable making stops after the catch in space and can make the stop in the open field.
Lacks ideal size, speed, and range. Doesn't make many plays vs. the outside run because he will overpursue and give up the cutback lane there. Gets caught in the trash on the second level when trying to defend against the outside run. Is an undersized run stuffer that gets outmatched too often at the point of attack. Not a very big tackler and will struggle in one on one situations against powerful runners. Needs to add strength there and makes too many ankle tackles. Has trouble getting off blocks at the point of attack and doesn't consistently stack and shed, trying to run around blockers at the second level. Only has adequate instints and it shows when he's working in coverage. Will get caught out of position in zone coverage, and doesn't have the burst to close when he gets too deep on crossing routes. Lacks hips and fluidity when working in man coverage and struggles to turn and run with tight ends down the seam. Lacks ideal burst as a blitzer and won't make many plays there unless he's on a delayed blitz or unblocked up the middle.
Gruder is an undersized run defender that doesn't have the sort of speed or range to make up for it. And he's only adequate in coverage as a collegiate linebacker. He's an experienced guy that shows good toughness and led Pitt in tackles both as a senior and sophomore. He played primarily the weakside linebacker in both of those years, although he did start most of his junior year at middle linebacker due to an injury to the other starter. He projects best as a weakside linebacker in a 4-3 at this point, but if he can add some muscle and get stronger you can probably see him also working inside in a 3-4 as well. B
2011 GAMES WATCHED:
(9/17) at Iowa: 1 TFL, 3 stuffs; 1 tgt., 1 rec., 4 yds, 0 TDs
(9/29) vs. South Florida: 1 stuff, 2 key blocked; 1 tgt., 1 rec., 42 yds, 24 YAC, 0 TDs
(10/8) at Rutgers: 1 TFL, 1 key blocked, 1 pressure, 1 PD;
(10/15) vs. Utah: 2 stuffs, 1 penalty
(10/26) vs. UConn: 2 stuffs, 2 tgt., 2 rec., 13 yds, 3 YAC, 0 TDs
(12/3) vs. Syracuse: 1 key blocked, 1 missed tackle, 1 pressure, 1 tgt., 1 rec., 8 yds, 3 YAC, 0 TDs
(1/7) vs. SMU: 1 stuff, 1 QB hit, 1 tgt., 1 rec., -1 yds, 0 TDs
2011: 13 GP/13 GS, 116 tackles, 8.5 TFLs, 0.5 sacks, 0 INTs, 3 PD, 0 FF, 0 FR
Gruder is a guy that probably will just be a special teams player in the NFL. He just lacks the instincts, speed, range, coverage skills, and size to really think he's going to make a major impact on regular defense. He can get bigger and stronger, but he'll still just be only an average run defender because of those other variables. In coverage, he's most comfortable in zone coverage because of his athletic limitations in man coverage, but he doesn't really show the sort of awareness to make you think he can make much impact there at the next level. His ability to carve out a pro career will depend almost entirely if he can come in right away and impress a team on special teams. That's a possibility, and if he does then you could see him potentially having a decent career as a backup. As is, he probably fits best as a WILL in a 4-3 because he's more of a run and hit linebacker that is undersized. But again because of his limited range and coverage ability, he isn't likely to make much improvements in that scheme. That's probably why down the road he might be a better fit as an ILB in a 3-4 scheme because he's best when asked to defend the inside run more than anything else. But even then, you seem almost no upside to be a starter for more than a game or two. It's really hard to see Gruder making an NFL roster right away, but he might impress enough on special teams to land on a practice squad and then after a year or two of adding some strength and improving, he might be ready to make an NFL roster.
Gruder would be a decent body for camp in Atlanta, but has almost no real promise to make the Falcons roster as a rookie. If he can perform well on special teams, then he might have a shot at the practice squad. And if he develops there, then maybe you could see him pushing for a roster spot a year or two down the road. But his upside is limited, and you really doubt that the Falcons won't be able to find someone that can give you much the same on special teams but also a bit more upside on defense to beat him out.
Gruder isn't worth a draft pick, and I wouldn't even be sure to call him a priority free agent since his upside to push for a spot on regular defense is limited. He's just a camp body that some team brings into push for time and compete for a special teams role.
1-pathetic, 2-poor, 3-weak, 4-below average, 5-average, 6-above average, 7-good, 8-very good, 9-excellent, 10-elite
Point of Attack: 4.0
Pass Rush: 4.0
"Vincere scis, Hannibal, victoria uti nescis" -- Maharbal, 216 B.C.E.