When the Cowboys drafted South Carolina linebacker DeVonte Holloman in the sixth round of the 2013 NFL Draft, many analysts considered it sensational value. Holloman was projected to go as early as the third round, but he dropped due to a perceived lack of fit in various defensive schemes. At 6-1, 240 pounds, Holloman is very undersized. No 3-4 teams gave Holloman much consideration, and he can really play only on the outside in a 4-3.
I watched the Alabama (2010), Georgia (2012), Clemson (2012), and Michigan (2013 bowl) games for Holloman. He actually played strong safety for the majority of his South Carolina career, racking up 142 tackles, 15 tackles-for-loss, and seven interceptions in four years. Holloman is an athletic linebacker with excellent movement skills, as you’d expect. He’s not incredibly explosive (4.71 40-yard dash, 34-inch vertical, 9-5 broad jump), but he’s fluid and always in control of his body. That might be reflected in his 4.25 short shuttle—a sensational time for someone his size.
Holloman is an instinctual player who flies up to make plays in the backfield. Despite his small stature, he’ll probably start out as a Sam linebacker in Dallas because he plays the run better than the pass. He works around blockers well, but he could struggle in coverage against some of the league’s bigger, faster tight ends.
What I Like
I love that Holloman played safety in college. Even if he was average at the position, that equates to above-average movement for a linebacker. He’s also an aggressive player who fits well in a 4-3.
What I Don’t Like
At Holloman’s size, you’d like to see more explosiveness. If you’re a 6-1 linebacker, you better be able to keep up with running backs and tight ends, and I’m not sure Holloman can do that on a consistent basis.
Re-Grade: Fifth Round
I don’t think Holloman was a reach by any means, but I don’t agree that he was outstanding value. He’s very limited in what he can do. I think he can be a good player in the NFL, but there’s not enough upside there for him to become great. Sixth-round picks very rarely pan out, so there’s no reason to draft a player whose ceiling is capped by a lack of athleticism. Not every player needs to be tall and fast, but if you’re not at least one of them, there are usually problems. Holloman’s short-area quickness still made him worth the selection, however.
Jonathan Bales is the founder of The DC Times. He writes for DallasCowboys.com and the New York Times. He's also the author of Fantasy Football for Smart People: How to Dominate Your Draft.