The linebacker position has been evolving over the past few years. The idea of a typical linebacker is no longer a big, hard-hitting thumper. Rather, it is changing into a smaller, faster, safety-like player who can drop back in coverage with ease. Players like Deone Bucannon and Mark Barron have helped lead the way for more and more safety-turned-linebacker converts to succeed in the pros. Arizona’s Paul Magloire Jr. looks to be the next star at that position. Cover32 got the chance to talk to him and discuss his journey to the NFL.
You started off as a safety, but converted to linebacker later in your career. What aspects of your experience as a safety have you transferred to being a linebacker?
Magloire: Playing safety, you tend to cover a lot of guys – a lot of speed guys. One thing that I’ve gotten better at now is just covering backs coming out of the backfield and tight ends playing the Y spot. That’s something that I’ve definitely brought over from playing safety and moving to that outside linebacker, just being able to cover those speed guys.
ESPN currently has you listed at 227 pounds, which is generally considered to be fairly undersized for a linebacker. What do you have to say to people who doubt that you can play the position in the pros?
Magloire: The game’s changing; it’s becoming more of a speed game. Guys are getting faster and faster and the game’s becoming a passing league. My size, I feel like, fits the mold that teams are going for at a linebacker now. I’m strong, with a good size and I’m built with a lot of speed.
Which NFL team did you grow up rooting for?
Magloire: When I was younger, I was a Miami Dolphins fan. Now, I’m just a fan of the game.
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You’ve recently participated in the East-West Shrine Game. What was your favorite moment of that experience?
Magloire: The best moment of that was just being able to be coached up by NFL coaches. This is the first year that they’ve used NFL coaches that are current and active in the NFL, and it was a blessing to be able to be around those guys and be coached up by them and, in a sense, almost get recruited by them. (I liked) talking about your weaknesses and positives and what you can change in your game and what you can do to get better and being able to run those NFL coverages and NFL systems and be able to show that you can do all that. Another thing I enjoyed was being able to go to the children’s hospital and being able to meet with those kids.
Building off of what you said about being taught by NFL coaches, what are a few things in your game that you think you need to work on the most?
Magloire: I feel like I can become a better student of the game and definitely learn more about the game. (I can learn more about) what the defensive backs are doing in certain coverages, what exactly the d-line is doing in certain fronts. Just become more of a student of the game.
What questions have NFL teams asked you in interviews?
Magloire: (laughs) There’s been so many. I mean, when you’re talking to scouts, they kinda ask everything, so you never know what’s gonna be asked. But definitely, they ask about the scheme I played in, how many different schemes I played in; a couple football questions here and there.
If I’m a general manager in the NFL, what would I be getting if I drafted you to my team?
Magloire: You’re definitely gonna get a hardworking guy who’s able to play a lot of different positions on the field. A guy who’s ready to play and make an impact on special teams, and a great guy who’s a father, a great son and somebody who learns from their coaches and is always trying to give their all.
Who is the toughest player you’ve ever gone up against on offense?
Magloire: Christian McCaffrey.
What about his game makes him the best player you’ve faced?
Magloire: He’s very shifty and he hits the hole. He has burst and he’s a strong, strong guy.
Which player in the NFL are you most looking forward to going up against?
Magloire: That’s a tough question. I’m just excited to just play in the NFL, you know? Everybody in the NFL is so great, so it’ll be a blessing to just play in the NFL and go up against top talent.
– Jacob Infante is a National Editor for cover32 and also covers the Chicago Bears. He can be followed on Twitter @jacobinfante24.