2009 was a pretty good year for Wisconsin Badger defensive end, O'Brien Schofeld.
Schofeld had 12 sacks, 3 forced fumbles and 24.5 tackles for loss. He was co-MVP of his team and earned honorable mention All-American. He was a semifinalist for the Chuck Bednarik Award, which is handed out to the nation's best defender. He tore up the East -West Shrine game, winning defensive MVP award.
Then, in the Senior Bowl practices the following week he tore something else -- his anterior cruciate ligament in his knee.
Understandably, his stock, which had ranged in the late first or early second round, plunged to lower depths. His career path had taken a sudden Black Monday/Dow Jones kind of dive. Likely needing to miss his rookie season due to the injury, back up game tape and word of mouth would determine his NFL value.
Being an "undersized" NFL defensive end at 6-3 242, the move to outside linebacker was a given. Whether or not he could handle the change was the uncertainty.
What We Knew Then
Schofeld initially had difficulty with the DE/OLB transition even early in the college postseason all star games, with ESPN's Todd McShay worrying about laying off in coverage.
SB Nation's Dan Kadar liked his athleticism but lamented about lower body strength and lack of a go-to pass rush move.
Walter Football thought less of him and assigned him the 13th best LB slot in the draft.
What We Know Now
The Cardinals didn't think he was that much of a risk factor, evidently, choosing him in the fourth round of the 2010 draft. In fact, Schofeld didn't forgo his entire rookie campaign with injury - he only missed six games.
But just like in college, health has continued to be his bug-a-boo. He played in the full 16 game schedule the following season but only nine last year when he was rolled up by Darnell Dockett.
He's provided 10.5 sacks in 35 career games for a position that craves quarterback pressures (yet in Ray Horton's scheme, maybe less so -- or was that by design because of lack of confidence in Schofeld?) andwas graded out as the 26th best linebacker that struggled versus the run.
Schofeld have a chance to be the starting OLB with the Cardinals in training camp. He currently is behind free agent signee Lorenzo Alexander. He'll join Sam Acho and rookie Alex Okafor in making the presumably big-boy prerogative NFL move - you can't play a pass rusher LB unless you've moved from collegiate DE.
For a player that has had to wear wristband plays in preseason - will he "get" it? Will the "heavy handed" rush moves he was known for at Wisconsin resurface? And with this being a contractual year, will he make it through healthy, wealthy and wise?