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2015 NFL Draft Profile: Virginia's OLB Max Valles

Leaving after just 2 seasons at Virginia, Valles surprised a lot of people. Especially after he initially denied reports that he was declaring for the draft. Valles may well develop into an NFL starter, but right now he's far too raw. As the youngest player in the draft, Valles will be given the chance to grow as both a man and a player.

Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports

Like Eli Harold, Max Valles chose to enter the draft coming off a great season. The difference is that Eli had 2 years of solid production (and game film) and is seen as a potential first round pick. Max, on the other hand, has just 1 season of consistent production and is seen as a late round pick. Valles is the youngest player in the draft, at just 19 years old. He is raw, but has a lot of potential.

He played OLB for the Hoos, and is likely to start his NFL career there. However, if he can add some muscle to his frame, he profiles very well as a 4-3 DE.




Tackles (Solo)









23 (8)









55 (24)







Max put up 13 sacks and 18 TFLs in just 2 years. And he didn't see the field until the 3rd game of his freshman season, and only started 4 games that year. Initially a TE, Valles was moved to DE because his size and speed made him a potentially devastating pass rusher. He immediately made an impact, with 2.5 sacks in his first game.

Combine/Pro Day Results

Valles did not perform a bench press because of shoulder issue, but he did most of the rest of the drills. He also appears to have skipped the 60yd shuttle, and I do not know why. The chart below shows his results.









251 lbs

4.83 sec

36.5 inches

10' 1"

7.59 sec

4.37 sec

To be honest, Valles' performance was a bit underwhelming. Pedestrian even. A 4.83 40 is slow for an NFL LB (Eli Harold was 4.6). Valles is bigger than Eli, but not enough to make up for the speed difference. His agility numbers are not great either.

All of his numbers would be better for a DE than for a LB. Right now, he's projected as an OLB, but he could definitely move to DE if he adds some muscle.



Max may not have great pure speed, but his burst off the ball is elite. He gets off the snap as fast as anybody you're likely to see. He also appears to have an extra gear for short bursts which does not show up in a 40 yard dash. That extra gear allows him to close very well and avoid missed tackles.


At 6'5", Max is tall for an NFL LB. But while that may cause some problems when being blocked, it allows him to get into passing lanes. As you can see from his numbers, he deflected 12 passes in his 2 years. That is impressive for a pass rusher. Max also has long arms, which allow him to keep even quicker players in his grasp. His also has a good frame which can easily add another 15 pounds. If he can add the muscle and keep up his quickness, he'll be a tremendous asset.


Valles plays very strong. He's a bit undersized, right now, for a DE, which is why he's projected as an OLB, but he has more strength than a typical OLB. He uses his strength well, at times muscling opposing OLs around. As an OLB, he's likely to see TEs and RBs blocking him quite a bit, and his strength will be a big plus in those situations.

As previously mentioned, Valles has the frame to add more muscle. If he can, he'll be able to move to DE, where his pass rush ability will be better utilized.



Valles spent just 2 years in college. He also did a post-grad year, which is what allows him to jump to the NFL now, but that lack of experience is his biggest weakness. Many of the plays he made in college were just pure athleticism and effort. But those don't you very far in the NFL, when everybody is an elite athlete. Learning better pass rush moves and better counter-moves is simply a must for Valles. He also needs to make better reads and develop his football instincts. On most plays in college, his job was simple - get to the QB. In the NFL, especially if he is playing OLB, he is going to have more varied roles, and he'll have to learn how to play in those roles.


Max has very good small space quickness, but his straight line speed is poor. He'll have trouble bringing down the quicker NFL QBs, because they'll be able to run away from him. And he won't be able to chase down opposing RBs from the backside. Those are things that will hurt his production. Once again, as a DE, his lack of speed wouldn't be as big an issue. But as an OLB, he is slow.

Possible NFL Fits

New England Patriots - The Patriots are a team that run a variety of different defenses, both 3-4 and 4-3. Valles is a bit of a tweener, which could work in that type of scheme. Bill Belichick has often been able to get production out of non-typical players, much like Valles. It would also allow Valles to start out on a veteran team that wouldn't need him to produce game in and game out. He could come in for certain plays, as either an OLB or a DE, while he learns the NFL game.

Kansas City Chiefs - The Chiefs have 2 very strong OLBs, and their 3-4 defense was one of the best at generating sacks last year. It would seem like they don't need another OLB. But in the part of the draft where Valles is likely to be drafted, teams don't really draft for need. Valles looks very similar to KC's Justin Houston, who had 22 sacks last year. Valles could come in as a backup and learn from two very good OLBs (Houston and Tambi Hali). Houston came in similarly raw and has developed into an elite pass rusher. Valles could learn from Houston's game and his work ethic. He would have no pressure to perform, but could possibly step in after a couple of years.

Washington Redskins - The Redskins, like the Chiefs, run a 3-4 defense that relies the OLBs to generate most of the QB pressures. The OLBs they have are similar in size to Valles, but his athletic profile is better than the Redskins current OLBs. Playing behind a few solid veterans, he could develop his game while only being used in certain situations. If he ever reaches his ceiling, Washington would have a great asset.

Bottom Line

While Valles initially projects as a 3-4 OLB, I think his best fit might be as a 4-3 DE. But he'll need to add some bulk before he's ready for that role. He's so raw that he should spend a couple of seasons as a role player, just getting on the field in pass-rush situations and special teams.

As he builds up his body and his skills, he'll start to get more responsibility. He could very well be an every down player in 2-3 years. In the first year of his career, he may be close to a non-factor. In fact, he could even spend some time on a practice squad, developing his body and his instincts.

Prediction: Max is drafted near the end of the 5th round, by the Kansas City Chiefs, at #172 overall.