Goodbye, Cam McGrone

Goodbye, Cam McGrone

December 31, 2020
Cam McGrone (#44, image via 247 Sports)

McGrone attended Indianapolis (IN) Lawrence Central, where he was a 4-star, the #7 outside linebacker, and #118 overall. He was chosen for the Army All-American Bowl that year in 2018, despite having torn his ACL as a junior. I gave him a TTB Rating of 80, and here are a couple paragraphs from my writeup on him (LINK):

McGrone’s blitzing is perhaps the best phase of his game, but it’s the way that he plays the ball carrier in the backfield that is most impressive. Some guys are mauling blitzers who just eat up everything coming their way, but McGrone plays with a low center of gravity that allows him to redirect and make plays all over in the backfield. Lawrence Central brings him from various angles, and he plays fast and reckless. He uses his hands well to shed blockers, and even when he gets caught up in the trash, he fights non-stop to shed. When he arrives at the ball carrier, he’s a violent hitter who runs through people. Unless he has hit a growth spurt, he has a solid frame but probably shouldn’t get too much larger than 235 lbs. or so in college, which is still a decent size.

On the negative side, McGrone has that injury history that can sometimes come back to repeat itself. It’s always concerning to have a guy who already tore an ACL. His play recognition skills need to improve, since he occasionally finds himself a half-step out of position on basic run reads. That may be partially the reason why his coaches choose to blitz him so often, to negate some read-and-react deficiencies.

Hit the jump for more.

McGrone played in just one game as a true freshman, preserving his redshirt as he was behind first round draft pick Devin Bush, Jr. That was followed up by another expected year of playing a backup role behind Josh Ross, but Ross got injured and in stepped McGrone. There were some hiccups, but McGrone played well enough to be named Honorable Mention All-Big Ten as he made 65 tackles, 9.5 tackles for loss, 3.5 sacks, 1 forced fumble, 1 pass breakup, and 5 quarterback hurries. That led to some high expectations for 2020, but a wrist injury suffered in the pre-season stunted his play. He made 26 tackles, 2 tackles for loss, and 0.5 sacks while wearing a cast, but a leg injury in game five ended his season and, ultimately, his college career.

91 tackles, 11.5 tackles for loss, 4 sacks, 1 forced fumble, 1 pass breakup, 5 quarterback hurries

Honorable Mention All-Big Ten (2019)

I think my evaluation of him in 2018 was pretty accurate. I expected him to stay for more than three years, so I also expected some more development. He got out of place sometimes, and while playing with a cast didn’t help, I think he underperformed in 2020. When I think of the defensive malaise at Michigan in 2020, the first person I picture is McGrone. He was constantly out of position, unready for the play to begin, and just doing his own thing on defense. The middle linebacker should be the heart and soul of the defense, and McGrone just didn’t play like that. He looked like he did not want to be on the field against Wisconsin, and another singular play stands out from 2020 when he nearly jumped offsides against Indiana, and then stood in the A gap, mean-mugging the center repeatedly and faking like he was blitzing, even though it was clear he was the one who made the mistake.

…leaving too early.

McGrone is listed at 6’1″ and 236 lbs., which is adequate for an NFL linebacker. I expect him to run a decent time at the Combine, but I don’t believe it will be a blazing 40 time like Bush’s (4.44). To me he looked slower and a little heavy in 2020, so maybe draft preparation will help him out a little bit there. The problem with McGrone is that he doesn’t have a) much tape or b) much positive tape. He never started for a full season, and as I mentioned above, he never really progressed enough for my liking when it comes to diagnosing plays. This feels a little bit like a Donovan Warren situation. In that case, Warren played cornerback at Michigan for three seasons, declared for the draft, didn’t get drafted, and then bounced around practice squads for a few years before calling it quits.

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