Bloodlines are what makes some breeds of dog more expensive than others. In the NFL, it’s what can help make some rookies stand out above all the rest, and improve their readiness for making a roster.
Count new Detroit Lions’ defensive end Larry Webster as the personification of that claim. Webster, a prospect out of Bloomsberg University, had previously been wowing his teammates and coaches during training camp with an explosive motor.
Now that the preseason is here, it’s almost as if Webster has become an animal released from a cage that smells blood. Throughout the first two weeks of the exhibition slate, he’s been one of the most impressive Lions’ defenders. He’s gotten pressure on the quarterback routinely, and already put licks on two of the bigger name signal callers from the 2014 class in Johnny Manziel and Derek Carr.
Manziel was lucky after his encounter with Webster to only leave with minor bumps and bruises. Carr didn’t make it out unscathed, sustaining a concussion on Friday night. Raiders officials also were worried about internal body damage in the rib area, considering Webster landed directly on top of their product and Carr “heard a crunch” as he was falling to the ground. Both tough, clean hits have helped Webster serve some notice and start his own personal “hit” list.
Many talent evaluators probably should have seen this coming sooner. Webster is the son of Larry Webster Sr. who played in the NFL for 11 years and won a Super Bowl with the Baltimore Ravens. While the elder Webster was more of a space eating beast (four career sacks), the new version is a dynamic combination of size and speed perfect for the next generation of NFL pass rushing.
Standing next to Webster, it became obvious why he has a future in the league, and quite possibly a bright one with Detroit. His arms are long, his torso slender and he’s certainly not vertically challenged. In the day in age of large pass rushing terrors, Webster has the body matched with the agility to become the next.
He’s also got the mind and motivation to work hard coming from a small school as an unknown talent, and the right background considering he’ll have his father to serve as a career mentor. It seems the sky is the limit for Webster, but with as tall as he is, that might not even be a fair statement.
With the offseason subtraction of edge rusher Willie Young, most figured the number 79 would probably get a little less scary around Detroit. After Webster’s early returns and the nightmares a few quarterback in his class are probably already having about him, that doesn’t look to be the case.