This year's linebacker class was incredibly deep and had too much talent for guys like AJ Tarpley. He was not supposed to have his name called during the 2015 NFL Draft, but don't count out his NFL career yet. The 2014-2015 All PAC-12 Second Team LB (the first teamers were Shaq Thompson, Scooby Wright III, and Hau'oli Kikaha), was signed by the Buffalo Bills.
Being second in total tackles the past two years, is quite an accomplishment because there have been NFL worthy defensive players on the daunting Stanford defense. Over those two years he established himself as a sure tackler and a run stopper. His strength is being able to get to the gaps and wrap up the ball carrier. Another one of his specialties is being able to make tough open field tackles. Through the years Tarpley has made tough play after tough play resulting in either a loss of downs or a 4th down.
One thing Tarpley is not so great at is his pass coverage. Sometimes you can see Tarpley look confused out in the field when there are multiple receivers coming his way. He is also a mismatch waiting to happen on the defensive front because of his 6-2 frame. In the NFL those offensive linemen are only going to be bigger and he needs to use his quickness to make up for his size. His size also inhibits him in coverage because all pass catching TE's, such as Rob Gronkowski and Jordan Cameron, are tall and big.
The Bills are a great fit for Tarpley because he will be able to learn from one of the best defensive minded coaches, Rex Ryan, in the league. The Bills just traded away former Oregon LB Kiko Alonso and needed to bulk up their LB crew. They also decided not to draft an inside linebacker so, it looks like Tarpley was a target for the Bills all along (not to mention the fact of how quickly they signed him). He will be joining a relatively young group of LBs and could potentially start off the year as a second-stringer. The Bills gained a great tackler in Tarpley and they should expect great things from him, as we did at Stanford.
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