Draft in-depth: LB Audie Cole
Audie Cole (Michael Ivins/US Presswire)
Audie Cole (Michael Ivins/US Presswire)
NFL Draft Report
Posted Apr 28, 2012


Find out all about new Vikings linebacker Audie Cole, the team’s first pick of the seventh round.

Audie Cole
Inside/Outside Strong-side Linebacker
North Carolina State University Wolfpack
#42
6:04.1-246
Monroe, Michigan
Monroe High School

OVERVIEW

Cole has been overshadowed throughout his Wolfpack career, which is very surprising, especially when you notice his versatility, athleticism and production, which rival the elite prospects eligible for the 2012 NFL Draft. No matter what the coaches have asked from the Monroe High School product, they received much more than they expected.

When he arrived on campus as a freshman, Cole was a three-year starter as a prep quarterback with experience as a safety, but he was assigned weak-side outside line-backer duties. As a sophomore, when injuries hit the defensive squad, he was asked to move to strong-side outside linebacker. He would go on to lead the team in tackles during that sophomore campaign.

When graduations left the team vacant of leadership inside, the senior volunteered and took over assignment-calling duties and shifted to middle linebacker, where he again led the team in tackles, sacks and forced fumbles.

Cole is a well-built athlete who reminds scouts of a taller version of the Chicago Bears Lance Briggs, as he possesses very good quickness closing on the ball, the ability to play anywhere in the linebacker unit and has the fluid lateral agility to chase down ball carriers before the opponent can turn the corner. He has above average balance and body control, along with a smooth change of direction, using his hands effectively to defeat blockers attacking his feet.

The State linebacker is a smart, instinctive player who is quick to react and recognize plays as they develop. He is fluid in his pass drops, doing a nice job of picking up the slot receiver when working in the zone. He has the speed to quickly recover when beaten and is very aggressive using his hands to redirect and jam the tight ends in the short area.

While Cole might lack natural hands for the interception, he does display good timing and great elevation going up to compete and deliver the pass deflection. He is a highly effective tackler with the ability to break down, wrap and secure the ball carriers. He does a nice job at staying low in his pads to take on the fullback when plugging the rush lanes, as he finished third in school history with 32 tackles behind the line of scrimmage.

Cole also demonstrated the balance needed to roll of blocks and make plays down the line. He can get downhill quickly and shows the range to make plays in long pursuit, along with a strong wrap-up tackling technique that has resulted in the defender causing seven fumbles as a Wolfpack member, getting four of those turnovers during his senior season.

The linebacker is quick enough to defeat the linemen coming off the edge on the blitz, where he has produced fourteen sacks, tied for eleventh on the school career-record chart. He also has the closing burst to run with most ball carriers and takes good angles to the ball, as 191 of his career 276 tackles were generated in run force.

At Monroe High School in Michigan, Cole started at quarterback, safety and linebacker for head coach Greg Hudkins. He was a member of the Rivals.com Michigan Top-30 team after he threw for 3,285 yards and 23 touchdowns in his career and was named All-League as a senior. He also rushed for ten touchdowns his final season, when he threw for more than 1,700 yards.

On defense, Cole recorded 97 tackles as an outside linebacker in 2006. In addition to his success on the gridiron, he lettered in baseball and basketball. During his high school days, he was a Golden Glove winner in boxing.

Cole spent the 2007 season at North Carolina State learning the nuances of playing linebacker. He studied and worked under the guidance of former All-American linebacker, Nate Irving, who would later be drafted in the third round by the Denver Broncos in 2011. He continued to learn under Irving in 2008, as he backed up the weak-side linebacker while making nine tackles in thirteen games with the varsity.

Cole added over ten pounds of muscle to his frame before arriving at 2009 fall camp and with his chiseled frame and being such a “good student” under Irving’s guidance, he not only seized an opportunity to start opposite his teammate at strong-side outside line-, the red-shirt sophomore blossomed into one of the Atlantic Coast Conference’s rising stars.

That season, Cole led State with 73 tackles (34 solos) and ranked second with 8.5 stops behind the line of scrimmage, including 3.5 sacks. He also performed on special teams, where he fielded two onside kicks. He was the recipient of the Al Michaels Award, given to the player who “puts team before self.” Based on what he did throughout his career at North Carolina State, it was an appropriate honor for a linebacker who would follow that edict throughout his career.

As a junior, Cole received All-ACC honors, as the strong-side linebacker had to take on more responsibilities with veteran players going down early in the season with a rash of injuries. He produced 86 tackles that included five sacks, delivering ten stops for loss. He caused and recovered two fumbles, batted down three passes and picked off another as he helped the team rank second in the conference in run defense (114.31 ypg).

Cole was again on the move prior to his 2011 campaign, taking over middle linebacker duties. The Butkus Award semi-finalist was mysteriously limited to All-ACC honorable mention recognition from the league’s coaches, despite a banner campaign that saw the senior register a career-high 108 tackles (61 solos), lead the team with 5.5 sacks and post 13.5 stops behind the line of scrimmage. His four forced fumbles was tops in the league and he also broke up four pass attempts.

While the league’s coaches failed to properly recognize his performance, NFL scouts appreciated his effort in taking over a demanding position without ever playing a down inside prior to 2011. Still, most talent evaluators feel that his future might be as a strong-side outside linebacker in the NFL, where a team can reap benefits from his athleticism and ability to make plays from sideline-to-sideline.

CAREER NOTES
Cole started 38-of-51 games at North Carolina State – 25 at strong-side outside linebacker and thirteen at middle linebacker…Led the team in tackles as a sophomore and senior, finishing his career with 276 tackles (147 solos)…His fourteen quarterback sacks for minus 103 yards tied Brian Jamison (1998-2001) for eleventh on the school all-time record chart…Produced 32.0 tackles for losses totaling 149 yards, which rank 13th in school annals…Added seven pressures with eight pass deflections and an interception…Had three fumble recoveries, advancing two for a total of 34 yards…His seven forced fumbles tied David Merritt (1989-92) and Nate Irving (2006-10) for fifth on the Wolfpack career-record chart…His four forced fumbles in 2011 placed sixth on the school annual record list.

2011 SEASON
The Butkus Award semi-finalist and All-Atlantic Coast Conference honorable mention by the league’s coaches, Cole shifted to middle linebacker for his final season…Went on to record a career-best 108 tackles (61 solos), as he also led State with 5.5 sacks for minus 46 yards…Finished third on the squad with a career-best 13.5 stops for losses totaling 60 yards…Added four quarterback pressures…Caused four fumbles, a conference-best, as he recovered one that he advanced eight yards…Deflected four passes…His average of 8.31 tackles per game ranked seventh in the ACC…Recorded at least ten tackles in four contests.

2011 SEASON HIGHLIGHTS
In the season opener vs. Liberty and his first game as a middle linebacker, Cole assisted on a sack, recovered a fumble, posted seven tackles with 1.5 stops for loss and had a pressure that caused an interception…Followed with seven tackles (6 solos), causing a fumble when he made a stop behind the line of scrimmage at Wake Forest…Posted eight tackles, a 6-yard sack, three stops for loss and a pass break-up vs. South Alabama and was in on fifteen tackles that included an 8-yard sack, two stops for minus 15 yards and a forced fumble at Cincinnati…Delivered thirteen more hits the next week vs. Georgia Tech and produced ten tackles (9 solos) with a pass deflection vs. Florida State…Facing their inter-state rivals, Cole caused a fumble on a 19-yard sack and delivered seven tackles in a 13-0 shutout of North Carolina…Made nine tackles and generated three pressures vs. Maryland in the season finale…Closed out his career with two sacks, four stops behind the line of scrimmage and ten tackles (9 solos) vs. Louisville in the Belk BHowl.

2010 SEASON
Cole started all thirteen games at strong-side outside linebacker, earning All-ACC second-team recognition from The NFL Draft Report…Named ACC Player of the Week and Rivals.com National Player of the Week vs. Central Florida…Recorded 86 tackles (49 solos) that included five sacks for minus 31 yards and ten stops for losses of 45 yards, along with a pair of QB pressures…Caused and recovered two fumbles, as he broke up three pass attempts and recorded his first career interception…In the Central Florida clash, the junior registered twelve tackles (9 solos) with 3.5 stops for minus 19 yards, including a 10-yard sack to go with an interception…Followed with a 6-yard sack vs. Cincinnati and collected seven tackles with a pair of sacks and three stops for losses of 12 yards vs. Virginia Tech…Recovered a fumble and advanced the ball 26 yards, causing another turnover while making nine tackles vs. East Carolina…Had back-to-back seven-tackle performances vs. Wake Forest and Clemson, followed by twelve hits (9 solos) as he caused a fumble on a 6-yard sack vs. North Carolina…Ended the regular season with eleven tackles and a stop for a loss vs. Maryland.

2009 SEASON
Cole was the recipient of the team's Al Michaels Award, which is given to the player who "puts team before self."…Took over strong-side outside linebacker duties, leading the team with 73 tackles (34 solos), in addition to producing 3.5 stops for minus 26 yards and placed second on the squad with 8.5 stops for losses of 44 yards…Caused a fumble and deflected one pass.

2008 SEASON
Saw action mainly on special teams in 2008, as Cole’s 213 specialty snaps ranked third on the squad…Also saw brief action behind Nate Irving at weak-side outside linebacker, as he recorded nine tackles (3 solos).

2007 SEASON
Red-shirted as a freshman, spending the season learning how to play linebacker with the scout team.


INJURY REPORT
2010 Season…Suffered broken bones in his right wrist and thumb vs. Florida State and re-injured it vs. Clemson, but did not miss any games.
2010- Broke his right thumb/wrist against Florida State and again vs. Clemson.

AGILITY TESTS
4.76 in the 40-yard dash…2.72 10-yard dash…1.68 20-yard dash…4.29 20-yard shuttle…
6.96 three-cone drill…35-inch vertical jump…9’6” broad jump…Bench pressed 225 pounds 15 times…32 ¾-inch arm length…10-inch hands…78 1/8-inch wingspan…33 Wonderlic score.

HIGH SCHOOL
Cole attended Monroe (Mich.) High School, playing quarterback, safety and linebacker for head coach Greg Hudkins...Member of the Rivals.com Michigan Top-30 team after he threw for 3,285 yards and 23 touchdowns in his career and was named All-League as a senior… Also rushed for ten touchdowns his final season, when he threw for more than 1,700 yards…On defense, Cole recorded 97 tackles as an outside linebacker in 2006…In addition to his success on the gridiron, he lettered in baseball and basketball…During his high school days, he was a Golden Glove winner in boxing.

PERSONAL
Business Administration major…Born 06/01/1989…Resides in Monroe, Michigan.



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