Aug 30, 2012; Provo, UT, USA; Brigham Young Cougars quarterback Riley Nelson (right) is defended by Washington State Cougars linebacker Travis Long (89) and cornerback Daniel Simmons (24) as he runs for a 5 yard first down during the third quarter at Lavell Edwards Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Jake Roth-USA TODAY Sports

Would Healthy Travis Long Have Been Invited to NFL Combine

Travis Long’s devastating leg injury against Arizona State kept him out of the Apple Cup, which no doubt would have been the most important game in his career at Washington State. It also made him unavailable to be a possible invitee to the NFL Combine, which invited 35 linebackers and 54 defensive linemen this year and is being held this week.

For the NFL Draft, Long projects as an outside linebacker with his 6’4″ 245 lbs frame, no question. I also think there is no question he gets drafted in April, due to his explosiveness and non-stop motor, but we’ll talk about where he might go and in what round at another time. Right now we’re focused on if he would have been the 36th invited LB for the combine.

Even though he played DE during his first 3 seasons, he might be barely too small to be an every down end in the NFL, but he could put his hand down on 3rd down and get after the passer. He’s not a 3rd down speed specialist like a Bruce Irvin, but he does have qualities that make him an intriguing 3rd down prospect to begin his NFL career.

In the 11 games he started last season, he tallied 61 total tackles, 1 interception, 4 forced fumbles, 4 pass breakups, 9.5 sacks and 13 tackles for loss. Here are the other 3 Pac-12 invitee stats in those areas and remember that all of these guys had at least 1 game on Long and all were on much better overall defenses, which makes it easier to accumulate stats:

Nov 24, 2012; Corvallis, OR, USA; Oregon Ducks linebacker Kiko Alonso (47) defends against the Oregon State Beavers at Reser Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Scott Olmos-USA TODAY Sports

Kiko Alonso (Oregon)

  • 12 Games
  • 81 Total Tackles
  • 14 TFL
  • 1 Ea. Sack, Int, FF
  • 3 Pass Breakups

Nov 17, 2012; Eugene, OR, USA; Stanford Cardinal linebacker Chase Thomas (44) against the Oregon Ducks at Autzen Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Scott Olmos-USA TODAY Sports

Chase Thomas (Stanford)

  • 14 Games
  • 71 Total Tackles
  • 15.5 TFL
  • 7.5 Sacks
  • 1 Int
  • 4 Pass Breakups

Oct. 18, 2012; Tempe, AZ, USA; Arizona State Sun Devils linebacker Brandon Magee (8) looks on during the second half against the Oregon Ducks at Sun Devil Stadium. The Ducks beat the Sun Devils 43-21. Mandatory Credit: Matt Kartozian-USA TODAY Sports

Brandon Magee (ASU)

  • 12 Games
  • 114 Total Tackles
  • 12.5 TFL
  • 6.5 Sacks
  • 2 Int
  • 1 Pass Breakup

Travis Long accounted for more total sacks, as many pass breakups and basically as many TFL and ints as anyone on this list in at least 1 less game. When you look at the stats, there is no doubt in my mind that if he doesn’t injure his knee, Long is in the discussion as the best linebacker prospect coming out of the Pac-12 this season. On top of that, Long played only 1 season at OLB, so his potential is through the roof right now.

There’s no way Travis Long gets left out of the combine had he stayed healthy and accumulated even more prime time stats for another game plus. Stay tuned for our thoughts on his chances of getting drafted and/or where he might end up, as well as his skill set advantages on other prospects in this class.

Tags: Cougar Draft News Football NFL Combine Travis Long Washington State Cougars

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