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NFL Draft Scouting Report: Jason Cabinda, LB, Penn State

Jason Cabinda - Penn State


Position: LB

Height: 6’1”

Weight: 239 lbs.

Year: Senior

Hometown: Flemington, NJ

Experience: 3-year Starter



40yd dash: DNP

Broad jump: DNP

Vertical: DNP

3-cone: DNP

20yd. Shuttle: DNP

Bench Press: 19 reps


Career Notes:

Of the nine games he played as a freshman, Cabinda made one start. His appearances earned him an honorable mention to the All-Big Ten Freshman Team. His sophomore year, he moved into a starting role for all 13 games of the Nittany Lions 2015 season. He notched three games with 10+ tackles and was awarded an honorable mention to the All-Big Ten Team by coaches and media.

His junior year was productive, but he suffered drops in all statistical categories after missing a few games to a hand injury. He toughed it out in the back half of the season and ended up averaging about 9 tackles per game. His effort resulted in coaches voting him to the All-Big Ten Third Team.

As a senior, Cabinda was a noticeably more disruptive defender than he had been his previous three years. He notched more sacks and tackles for losses, in addition to forcing a couple fumbles. His overall tackles increased from 2016 and he finished with an All-Big Ten Second Team bid from the coaches. He was also invited to the East-West Shrine Bowl after the season.


Injury Report:

A hand injury took Cabinda out of a month and a half of games his junior year. His hand has been healthy and hasn’t slowed his production since his return in 2016.


Career Stats:



Against the Run 3.5/5.0: Cabinda’s ability to read and pursue runners was consistently strong. He was occasionally susceptible to runners juking out of his way in the open field, resulting in missed tackles. He brought down runners four out of every five times he would get his hands on them. His strength in taking on blockers was impressive. He popped players with 70 pounds on him a few times every game in the open field, forcing running backs into less-than-ideal running lanes. Though he looked slightly undersized, he played with ferocity and always initiated contact on his opponents.

Pass Rush 2.5/5.0: In his senior year, Cabinda flashed a little bit of bend off the edge. If it becomes consistent, it would makes him a much more versatile prospect. From the inside, he was adept at reading offensive linemen and attacking quarterbacks on delayed blitzes. His stat sheet was not lined with the bodies of opposing quarterbacks, but when he was called on to bring pressure, he complicated things for offensive linemen with the power of his stocky frame.

Coverage 3.0/5.0: In his sophomore and junior seasons, he was something of a liability in coverage. Penn State guarded aggressively against the run, so he consistently had to backtrack after biting on play fakes. His growth as a senior was impressive as he became reliable to navigate complex route sets to follow swinging running backs. He was not a guy to trust against the opposing team’s second or third best wide receiver, but he could be trusted to minimize potential damage on routes in the flat from speedy backs. In zone coverage, he never shut down his area of the field and certainly has room to grow there.

Agility 2.5/5.0: In the open field, Cabinda was always susceptible to be juked by quicker ballcarriers. His ability to read and react often compensated for pedestrian lateral quickness, but his vulnerability as an athlete will likely always be the open field.

Impact Play Ability 3.5/5.0: Cabinda’s greatest impact plays really were not his sacks or pass deflections, although those do add to his appeal. His greatest impact is his aggressiveness. He consistently launched himself at offensive linemen without fear, but he was not a reckless force. He cleared out gaps for his teammates to clean up tackles behind him. He was a really selfless player who seemed to take pride in giving the offense hell and giving his teammates opportunities to shine.

Summary: Cabinda seemed to be the “glue guy” for Penn State’s defense. That title usually goes to guys who stick around teams for a few years and don’t have discernable upside, but Cabinda was not a cliché glue guy. In the middle of the field, he was responsible for a larger share of duties than any of the other ten defenders around him at any given time, and he handled that responsibility well. He showed great situational awareness and read offenses well. If a crossing receiver flashed in front of him on second and short, he would jump the route and take the risk of batting the ball. If that same crossing route flashed on 3rd and 7, he’d hang back and tackle the receiver for a gain of a few yards and safely get off the field. He was a solid tackler, a tough player who lasted through a lot of snaps, and led a top 15 defense in 2017.

Overall Grade 3.0/5.0:


If drafted by the Packers:

Green Bay has not taken an inside linebacker earlier than the fourth round since 2006 when they snagged AJ Hawk in the first. Unless the change in management means a change to approach in that area of the field, Cabinda is the kind of linebacker Green Bay will take late in this draft. In the fourth round, he’d be a replacement for Jake Ryan who may test free agency in 2018. Cabinda may not be as skilled in coverage as Ryan, but he would be a tough complement to Blake Martinez who shares his penchant for aggressive downhill play in the middle of the field. He would provide more strength to the middle of the field than Joe Thomas can give as a rotational mike. The addition of Mo Wilkerson means Green Bay will have one of the strongest defensive lines in the NFL next season. Cabinda would be a welcome addition to a linebacking core that left a lot to be desired behind the interior of Mike Daniels and Kenny Clark.






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Comments (1)

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OnWisconsinGoPack's picture

March 29, 2018 at 06:45 am

He'd be a solid addition late in day 3, but in today's game, LBs need to be much more athletic, so I'd rather take a chance on a small school or FCS talent with better measureables and try to develop them. At this point Cabinda would be an unathletic backup to an already unathletic Jake Ryan, not exactly the way I'd like to see the team develop.

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