Our own Warren Ludford has done a great series of posts breaking down numerous members of the Minnesota Vikings’ 2018 NFL Draft class, as well as some of the bigger Undrafted Free Agents that they’ve brought in. (You should have checked those out already.) For one of the Vikings’ UDFAs, however, we’re going directly to the source.
We’ve exchanged some questions with the folks from Bucky’s Fifth Quarter, SB Nation’s home for the Wisconsin Badgers, aboud UDFA linebacker Garret Dooley. How did he perform at Wisconsin? What does he (potentially) bring to the Vikings? Well, we’re going to find out, courtesy of B5Q blogger Jake Kocorowski. Once they post my answers to their questions, I will be putting that on the front page here as well.
1) Having watched him for four seasons with the Badgers, were you surprised that he went undrafted last weekend?
Not really. I thought he’d be a mid-Day 3 pick or priority undrafted free agent.
He’s strong but not necessarily a freak of an athlete (though I feel he’s underrated in that category), though he rushed the passer and defended against the run quite well during his final 1.5 years in Madison. Our own Owen Riese provided a scouting report of him a couple of weeks ago:
Strengths: Well put together, packs a muscular, dense physique. Improved every collegiate season. Plays with a good understanding of his athleticism. Sets a physical edge in the run game. Exhibits conceptual understanding of playing with leverage on the outside, keeping his outside arm free. Has a nice rip move as a pass rusher. Non-stop motor throughout the play.
Weaknesses: Bit of a one-year wonder. Not adept at playing in space. Wasn’t asked to cover often. Lacks moves as a pass rusher. More of an effort and clean up rusher. Lack of length on the perimeter may keep him limited to a 3-4 outside linebacker spot.
He performed well during Wisconsin’s Pro Day, bumping up his 40-yard dash to 4.62 seconds from 4.80 at the Combine, then also running a very solid 7.0 3-cone drill. It should be interesting to see how he performs at the next level and how teams use him, especially in coverage.
2) What was Dooley’s role on the defense for the Badgers? Most places have him listed as an “edge” defender, but was he more of a hand-in-the-dirt defensive lineman or a stand-up outside linebacker?
He’s a player that really came into his own and shined in his final year, as back in 2016 he was a rotational player and started two games that season when Vince Biegel suffered a foot injury. He solidified and anchored an outside linebacker group alongside Leon Jacobs last year after the defense had to replace Biegel and first-round draft pick T.J. Watt. He more than held his own, leading the team in sacks (7.5) and tackles for loss (12.0) on way to second-team All-Big Ten honors by the coaches.
He actually started his Wisconsin career listed as an inside linebacker, then moved to defensive line before finding a home at outside linebacker starting in the 2015 season. He told B5Q a couple weeks ago on our podcast that teams viewed him anywhere from a 3-4 outside linebacker to him even hearing a team potentially looking at him as a 4-3 defensive end. I think he’s an edge defender at the next level.
3) Would you say that Dooley was one of the leaders of the Badgers’ defense during his time in Madison, or was he sort of in the background?
Though not elected a captain, per se, I would say his final year that Dooley became one of the leaders of the defense, as there were eight seniors who were experienced and knew they had to keep the recent precedent of dominant Wisconsin defenses intact. The prior years weren’t necessarily his fault, as he moved around on the defense but ultimately found at home at outside linebacker. When he stepped up in 2016 with Biegel injured was a huge step for him, and he became a trusted rotational player that year they could depend upon to continue the quality production that was expected from the group.
Last season, he was a fifth-year player who had learned from the likes of Joe Schobert, Biegel and Watt before taking the reins in Tim Tibesar’s position group (Tibesar is now at Oregon State starting his first season as defensive coordinator, FWIW). He and Jacobs knew they had to step up with the two NFL-bound Badgers leaving, and they more than exceeded expectations, I believe.
Thanks again to Jake for taking a moment to sit down and answer some of our questions about Garret Dooley for us. If we have any other Badger fans out there, feel free to chime in with your thoughts on Dooley and whether or not you think he’s going to make the roster for our favorite football team.