Many in the draft community considered the Cleveland Browns third-round selection of BYU linebacker Sione Takitaki in the 2019 NFL Draft a major reach. Takitaki is an extremely hard-working player and great leader, but his lack of speed and athleticism is a major concern.
Takitaki did not test as a great athlete, does not tackle well in space and lacks power at the point of attack. Based on who was still available, the Takitaki pick is probably always going to look like a reach. That being said, he still has a chance to be a productive player at the next level.
While Takitaki did not test well, he plays faster on tape. He is not an elite space linebacker, but he does have enough speed and quickness to make an impact on the field. Most importantly, Takitaki consistently plays with his hair on fire.
This guy is an extremely hard-nosed player who is always flying around the field. His toughness is never a question, he has solid burst in short spaces and does a nice job of getting around blocks in the run game.
According to Tom Reed of The Athletic, Takitaki is making an impact in Cleveland Browns training camp.
“Rookie linebacker Sione Takitaki continues to make himself noticed,” Reed wrote. “His hyper-aggressiveness and willingness to finish plays have irked some veteran offensiv eplayers. Monday, Takitaki contributed to three consecutive positive defensive plays during a live tackling period.”
“The linebacker figures to get a legitimate shot at significant playing time in a position group that needs upgrading.”
Takitaki is the kind of player who coaches love. His on-field aggressiveness and demeanor may not always be popular with his teammates, but the Browns coaches undoubtedly appreciate the rookie linebacker flying around and making plays.
Despite his limitations, Takitaki has what it takes to make an impact on the defensive side of the ball. If he continues to turn heads in training camp, he will have an opportunity to make a mark when the regular season begins.