Scouting Report on Vernon Gholston LB NY Jets vs. Cleveland

Scouting Report on Vernon Gholston LB NY Jets vs. Cleveland
Vernon Gholston

Scouting Report on Vernon Gholston LB NY Jets vs. Cleveland

Forget what the “experts” say about Vernon Gholston's play.  Here is the real skinny.

By Bill Smith

            Let me explain that I really do not like the standard Jet zone.  They use a 5 under 2 deep out of their 3-4 defense.  In this system, the two corners join the two inside linebackers and one of the outside backers in the 5 zones short while the two safeties play over the top.  That puts an outside linebacker in a zone.  Smart play callers always work a WR into that zone and gain a great speed advantage by doing so.  The Browns did that to good advantage in the game Thursday night.  The Patriots have used that to dominate the Jet D since the team converted to a 3-4.  That makes things doubly hard for Gholston who must not only learn a new position but must adapt to a less than optimum system.


            Gholston is used to rushing the passer dropping in coverage in a short zone on the zone blitz at OSU.  He is very capable of doing either of those with great success.  In the Jet system, in passing situations either Gholston or the LB on the other side is asked to cover a zone and take anyone that enters it.  The difference is not only the type of player to be covered.  In the Jet's system, there are only 4 players at the most rushing the passer.  That means Gholston or another linebacker is going to have to cover longer because there is less pressure on the opponent QB.  Even so, he did pretty well in his first game action.  Gholston played 3 quarters in the game against the Browns. 

Against the run

            He did very well on runs to his side.  The Browns did not run often to that side but when they did he stood his ground and turned the run inside where his friends could make a play.  One one play he caused a holding penalty by a OT to prevent him from making the tackle.  That is a good play that is almost equal to a sack.  On another he was double teamed.  He still worked between the blocks and turned the play inside—exactly what he is expected to do.  As a rookie he must learn to get rid of blockers more quickly.  This is a combination of hand fighting and leverage.  He will learn to do both and has the strength to be effective at it. 

            On runs to the other side, his instincts are outstanding.  He takes the proper angles to the play and is in position to make the tackle if the on-side tacklers break down.

            His tackling technique in the open field needs work.  He tends to go high which reduces his strength and leverage.  That too will come with time.  He does an excellent job of using his speed and angles to track down runners.

Against the pass—rushing the QB

            If I was the coach, I would move Gholston around the D and let him rush from all angles.  The Giants did that with Lawrence Taylor and he is in the Hall of Fame.  That would allow the best use of Gholston's athleticism and speed.

            When he is allowed to rush he did it with abandon—maybe a little too much abandon.  On one pass, he rushed Brady Quinn but did not get under control when reached the QB and missed the sack.  He did force Quinn to throw on the run and the pass was incomplete.  That qualifies as a QB pressure.

            Because he is always coming from the same spot, he usually draws an OT rather than a TE or RB.  Expecting a blitz makes blocking it much easier particularly when you know where it is coming from.  Gholston will have to work on getting away from NFL blockers.  They are much quicker with much better feet than those in college.  Again his change from DE to OB alters the moves necessary to get around blockers.  He will learn to fake an outside move and cut inside.  From a stand up position, that gives an OB a one step advantage which is all you can ask.  He will also learn to use his legs better.  Blitzing from a stand up position requires an OB to dip a shoulder just before making contact with the blocker and then exploding past using his lower body strength and leverage.  That is a move that will come in time. 

            Overall Gholston scored 10 points which translates to a full game of 13.3 points and a B* rating.

* Because of differences in the duties of offensive and defensive positions, each one has a different grading scale.

Bill Smith is a former coach of several semi-pro teams and has scouted talent.  He is a senior writer for  He has also published several novels on and edits
Tags: Football NFL Buckeyes Ohio State

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