by Jeremy Shapiro:
Mique Juarez fit the bill of what a dominant USC linebacker should resemble at Nike’s regional scouting showcase on Sunday. The 6’2” 220 pound athlete delivers punishing hits and covers receivers and tight ends like a blanket. Best news of all—for Trojan fans—is that he is only beginning to scratch the surface of his potential.
Juarez—a two-way star for North Torrance High School—was named the 2014 Pioneer League’s Defensive Player of the Year. He stuffed the stat sheet to the tune of 107 tackles, 8.5 sacks, 7 quarterback hurries, 3 interceptions, 6 deflections and 6 forced fumbles. Those gaudy numbers are complemented by Juarez’s 2,200 all-purpose yards on offense and 22 touchdowns as quarterback and running back.
It’s hard to imagine what Juarez is capable of accomplishing when he commits himself full-time to the defense side of the ball, something the supremely gifted athlete has not been able to do during his illustrious high school career.
“I enjoy playing defense to be honest,” Juarez said after his dominant performance at The Opening Los Angeles. “I love defense because I’m very aggressive and that’s what scouts see in me. I just like to come in with the ‘boom.’”
Juarez sees himself as filling a hybrid role similar to All-Pac-12 junior Su’a Cravens. The comparison is fitting, as the two are both disruptive pass rushers, sideline-to-sideline tacklers and ball hawks in the secondary.
“I’m coming to play at USC and they’re going to teach me a lot. I’m going to continue to get faster and bigger and I’m looking forward to seeing all of my skill come together,” said Juarez.
The instinctive outside linebacker is a dangerous blitzer who can produce violent hits in the backfield. He has the coverage ability to excel in keeping up with tight ends, making him highly coveted as a three-down linebacker.
Juarez is very raw, plays reckless and with poor technique at times. He needs to get better at using his hands, and hone his pass rushing techniques. At times he can struggle with athletic tackles, but he certainly can get off the ball quickly and around the edge swiftly.
The read-and-react defensive force turned heads on Sunday, and will continue to gain more recognition as one of the 2016’s most dominant players.
* Fluid athlete
* Instinctive, disruptive playmaker
* Excels in pass coverage
* Ability to shoot gaps and make tackles for loss
* Violent tackler
* Unrelenting motor
* Sloppy technique
* Plays reckless at times
* Poor use of hands
* Lack of pass rushing moves