'I go hard every play': Justin Strnad describes what his role might be in Vic Fangio's defense
After being selected by the Broncos in the fifth round, former Wake Forest linebacker Justin Strnad talks about what Vic Fangio told him over the phone and what it will be like playing alongside Bradley Chubb and Von Miller.
Strnad (pronounced stir-NAD) pulled off a strange double as a sophomore with the Demon Deacons. He led the team with three interceptions and also with 10 special teams tackles; he did not start any of the 13 games he played, but still managed 51 tackles, 8.5 for loss, 4.5 sacks, two forced fumbles and the three picks. Wake coaches got him into the starting lineup in 2018, and he led the team with 105 stops (8.5 for loss, 1.5 sacks, five pass breakups in 13 games) on his way to honorable mention All-ACC honors. He was off to a strong start in his senior year but had surgery on his torn right biceps in October; in eight games (seven starts) he recorded 69 tackles, 5.5 for loss, two sacks, an interception, and four pass breakups to earn honorable mention All-ACC honors. Strnad was a three-star recruit and Tampa Tribune All-County selection from Palm Harbor before heading to North Carolina for college. He redshirted in 2015 and played in all 13 games as a reserve the following season (19 tackles).
He's built like a tall, puffed-up safety, but he also runs like one with the range to find play after play when he's kept clean. Strnad could have issues against downhill running attacks due to a lack of size and hand usage. He's an explosive athlete and aggressive striker, but big backs could wear him down on the pro level. He has the twitch and burst to roam from sideline to sideline and should play faster and more efficiently as his recognition improves. He's an ascending playmaker whose athleticism, third-down talent and special-teams ability could make him a middle-round selection as a 4-3 WILL or 3-4 ILB if his medicals check out.
- Desired combination of speed and athleticism
- Plays with twitchy, sudden feet
- Has slide quickness to work in phase with runners and ahead of blockers
- Outstanding range to head off wide flowing run plays
- Knives into gaps looking to disrupt the plan
- Loose hips and plus-agility for fluid movements in all directions
- Electric burst to close and is not a hesitant hitter
- Unloads with pops when he gets his shots
- Offers third-down athletic ability and coverage potential
- Good plant-and-drives to challenge throws or tackle pass-catchers quickly
- Four-phase special-teams talent