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DeAndre Square is a major sleeper in the NFL Draft

Square’s value in the middle of the defense can’t be overstated.

DeAndre Square Chris Humphrey Photo

As Kentucky Wildcats fans, many of us have been able to sit front and center to see the kind of player DeAndre Square is.

In the middle of the Kentucky defense, Square is a leader who anchors the center of the Wildcats defense, providing solid pass coverage and consistently being among the team leader in tackles, while coming up with big play after big play.

It’s surprising, in some sense, that he isn’t viewed as more of an NFL Draft prospect, although size and other factors seem to play a role in that determination.

But ESPN’s Adam Rittenberg thinks Square is one of the top sleepers in the upcoming draft. Rittenberg spoke with Brad White about his star linebacker.

“If you’re looking for a big 240-pound inside backer, that’s not him,” Kentucky defensive coordinator Brad White told ESPN. “He’s going to be that 220, 225 pounds, he can run, he’s savvy, he can sort blocks, he’s shown he can be violent in finishing tackles. He’s going to have to fit somebody as a Will backer.”

White compared Square to former Indianapolis Colts and Chicago Bears linebacker Jerrell Freeman, who played six seasons in the NFL with 390 career tackles.

White also said he liked Square’s knowledge of multiple coverages and willingness to play special teams.

“He’s got great instincts and feel,” White said. “With as much Cover 3 as we play, and all the over routes, he’s able to hunt them and roll them, and that is not an easy task at any level. That’s a huge upside for him. His ability to understand and manipulate through a defense, when he gets into a system, he’s going to understand that playbook. He’s already been exposed to a variety of coverages and techniques.

“He’ll be able to execute that with confidence, where a lot of rookies and young players in [the NFL], they just came from just a Cover 3 system or only a [Cover 4] system.”

While undersized, there are still smaller linebackers who are making a difference in the league. Square certainly has the ability to be a guy who can be a productive linebacker in the league.

He could be a great Day 3 pickup for a team.