Virginia Tech linebacker Xavier Adibi's career with the Hokies didn't begin with much fanfare. He was redshirted in 2003, spending the entire year on the scout team. Then in 2004, Adibi suffered a torn right bicep in the opening game against the University of Southern California and missed the team's next six games. Despite the injury, Adibi recorded 25 tackles, two sacks and one interception in seven games as a reserve. In 2005, Adibi assumed the starting right outside linebacker role and had 69 tackles, three sacks and two interceptions in 13 games on a Virginia Tech squad that led the nation in total defense.
In 2006, Adibi had 82 tackles, three sacks, three forced fumbles, three interceptions and one fumble recovery for a touchdown while being named to the All-Atlantic Coast Conference (ACC) Second-Team in 2006. In 2007, Adibi led the team in tackles with 115, had three sacks and two interceptions. Adibi returned one of those interceptions for a touchdown. After his strong season, Adibi was selected first-team All-ACC and declared himself eligible for the 2008 NFL Draft.
Adibi was made for the Cover 2 defense. He has great speed and quickness and good ball skills. Adibi has excellent range and is an aggressive sideline-to-sideline pursuer that makes many of his plays running down opponents from the backside. He plays with relentless effort and makes a lot of tackles by consistently being around the ball. He is a hard hitter that at times can employ a powerful burst of speed just before he makes contact with an opponent.
He boasts good skills in man-to-man and zone coverage, showing enough quickness and agility to stick with players out of the backfield in man while also getting sufficient depth and flowing quickly to the ball in zone. His ability to locate the ball in the air and make quick adjustments to it could help make him invaluable in a Cover 2 scheme that thrives on turnovers to be successful. Adibi is also an able blitzer off the edge where he can use his speed, and he will get his hands up if he can't reach the quarterback.
Adibi is small (6-foot-1 3/4, 232 pounds) compared to most outside linebackers and may not fit well in all schemes. Although Adibi is a very good tackler, he does not have the strength needed at the point-of-attack to be a powerful run stopper in the NFL and could find himself being driven back by powerful offensive linemen. Given that he does not have the strength to overpower, Adibi will have to quickly perfect his technique as he doesn't use his hands well to shed blocks and allows too many opponents to lock onto him and wash him out of the play.
He's more quick than fast and lacks great top-end speed, which is a bit of detriment considering he is already undersized. Although solid in man coverage, Adibi is still a better fit for zone schemes and could improve his footwork. Has had some arm injuries - torn bicep, shoulder stinger - which could be a small concern.
Expected Draft Placement
Just watch a little tape of Adibi and you instantly know that he is a fast, quick and smart "ball hogging" linebacker that plays extremely well in space. Adibi's 11 career interceptions at Virginia Tech are unheard of at the linebacker position and bode well for him at the next level. Look for Adibi to come off the draft board in the middle of the second round, perhaps ideally by a team the plays a lot of Cover 2 defense.
About Karl Hall
Karl Hall has been a KFFL contributor since 2007.
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