October 27, 2012; Eugene, OR, USA; Oregon Ducks linebacker Derrick Malone (22) intercepts a pass that was tipped in the second half against the Colorado Buffaloes at Autzen Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Scott Olmos-USA TODAY Sports
I want to note, before getting into this player, that I was considering picking any one of the players in the Oregon secondary (as the matchup between Jared Goff and the Oregon secondary could be the most entertaining in-game matchup we get to see all season), but I plan on putting up a preview of that matchup later today. Anyways…
Like I stated in the defense preview, Malone is probably the best player on the defense. Statistically, he’s fine (27 tackles, .5 for a loss) but not a world-beater. However, he has shown the athletic prowess of a linebacker who can cover a third, fourth or fifth receiver plus bang with the toughest possible tight end match up conceivable. He causes offensive coordinators to have to think about him specifically, which is a real talent.
I love linebackers, they happen to be my favorite players to watch on the field. Over my life of watching football, I have seen a lot of great college linebackers, some of whom are amongst my favorite players of all-time (Navarro Bowman)…this guy could be as good (or better) then that.
He is smart, which is the first thing to look at when considering whether a linebacker is great. This kid is as smart as they come. He could prove me wrong against Cal (as this will be the best offense Oregon has seen to this point), but I doubt that he’s going to go out there and make a huge mistake. He seems to pride himself on being physical, but not being a goon like other Pac-12 players who have been linebackers have been (see: Burfict, Vontaze). He is a clean player, but he makes people hurt. I see him doing a lot of hurting this weekend.