LSU linebacker Patrick Queen enters the draft after only 16 starts during his college career. He earned his first start against Alabama in 2018 when former LSU linebacker Devin White was ejected from the game for a targeting penalty. In 2019, Queen saw a significant snap increase, especially in the second half of the season, as he began to improve every week.
Vs. the Run
Against the run, Patrick Queen attacks the line of scrimmage aggressively. Weighing only 229 pounds, Queen has no problem clashing with the big boys as he comes downhill to fill gaps. He plays with a dawg mentality needed at the linebacker position. In 2019, Queen showed improvement in his ability to diagnose offenses weekly against the run and pass. Quick to diagnose run or pass, Queen utilizes his excellent athleticism to beat running backs to the gap or boundary. The LSU linebacker did have some lapses in his gap discipline early in the season, always looking to be the one to make the tackle.
There were times where he would flow beyond his gap near the boundary allowing for running backs a cut back lane inside. That’s just the competitiveness that he plays with, but he showed improvements in containing that as the season went along. Queen displays very good awareness of pulling blockers from the back-side of runs allowing him to position himself properly.
While the play above isn’t flashy with an incredible bruising hit on the running back, it does display his awareness of the offense. Queen realizes that the right guard and tackle are pulling to the left, showing where the play is going. Instead of crashing down immediately, he waits until the left tackle engages with the defensive line. He positions himself in the gap, dipping his shoulder not to allow the pulling blocker to get clean hands on him, and then makes the tackle.
There is room for Queen to grow in his frame, which will likely be needed at the next level not to get bullied by offensive linemen. At LSU, Queen countered his smaller size with his athleticism and awareness of blockers climbing to the second level. Using his short-area quickness and quick twitch, Queen avoided climbing blockers instead of taking them head-on. Chiefs fans will remember this style of play from when Derrick Johnson commanded the second level of the defense.
When blockers can get their hands on him, there are plays where he will get pushed off of his spot. However, there are also several instances to point to where his relentless playing style and competitiveness allowed him to shed blocks and make tackles at the line of scrimmage.
Attacking weak points, including the wrists and elbows, are plus factors in Queen’s ability to avoid being swallowed up in the run game. His hand fighting techniques and athleticism allow him to avoid most climbing blockers. He does a very good job of navigating through traffic to the ball carrier. Whenever Queen gets a running start, you can expect a punishing hit, which isn’t always on the running back, but offensive linemen too.
Vs. the Pass
Queen has reactive athleticism and flexibility in coverage, allowing him to carry running backs and most tight ends without issue. Despite playing few snaps in man coverage, Queen showcased his ability to carry when asked. Once again, while he might be undersized for the position, he demonstrates the ability to be aggressive at the catch point against tight ends.
One of the largest improvements towards the end of 2019 was his ability to read the quarterback’s eyes in zone coverage. Queen has a good understanding of route concepts as well. Pairing the two together and you have a linebacker that has the athleticism and quick mental processing to jump passes in the middle of the field. There were even instances where you could see that he was baiting quarterback’s to make a throw and then using his athleticism to jump the route.
The interception he had against Alabama was a thing of beauty. As the number two and three receivers are passed off in coverage, Queen gains depth quickly over the middle. Watching the quarterback’s eyes and having an awareness of the far boundary receiver, he jumps the route underneath.
Another area that Queen excels in is his ability to rush the passer from several alignments. That can be off the edge, off the line of scrimmage, or stunting inside from the edge. With excellent burst off the line of scrimmage, Queen often gave tackles problems coming out of their sets. He flashed some ability to dip his shoulder to prevent contact with tackles and slightly bend around the arc. His closing ability on quarterbacks is incredible. When blitzing from an off-ball alignment, Queen shows off his explosiveness and ability to get skinny, penetrating the A gap to wreak immediate havoc.