Throughout the month of June, we're breaking down each of the Jets' undrafted free agent signings. Today, we're moving on to look at linebacker Frankie Luvu.
The 21-year old Luvu is listed as 6-foot-3 and 236 pounds and spent four years in college playing for Washington State. He was an honorable mention all-PAC 12 selection in his senior year.
Luvu was recruited to Washington State and was initially going to redshirt his first season in 2014 but was ultimately activated, mainly for special teams duties. He made three special teams tackles, with two forced fumbles.
In his second season Luvu's contributions increased and he totalled 13 tackles, but became a full-time starter over his last two seasons, starting 22 of 25 games, although he was never an every-down player.
He racked up 94 tackles, three fumble recoveries, a forced fumble and a pass defensed over his last two seasons and became more of a playmaker in his senior year with 6.5 sacks - an increase of five over his career total - and his first two interceptions.
After the season Luvu wasn't invited to the scouting combine, but did play in the NFLPA Collegiate Bowl.
He didn't initially get an undrafted free agent contract but was signed by the Jets having attended their rookie camp on a tryout basis.
Let's move onto some more in-depth analysis of what Luvu brings to the table, based on in-depth research and film study.
Luvu played the will linebacker role (a 3-4 inside linebacker position) for the Cougars in 2016 but then moved to the rush linebacker position (an edge role). That factored into his increased sack total in his senior year. When playing on the edge, he sometimes had his hand in the dirt - often in a four-point stance.
However, while Jets fans would associate the rush linebacker role with pass rushing, it was actually more of a versatile role as he dropped into coverage on about one in three passing attempts as he rarely fired off the line of scrimmage, instead simply staying at home at the snap to read and react to the offensive set. WSU's other outside linebacker, Hercules Mata'afa pinned his ears back to rush the passer virtually all the time and hardly ever dropped into coverage.
Even though he was primarily a will in 2016 and a rush in 2017, Luvu actually played plenty of snaps at both positions in each year.
Luvu would need to bulk up a bit if he was going to be able to handle an edge defender role with the Jets. His size might make him more suited to an off-ball role, although he only ran a 4.84 40-yard dash at his pro day.
His agility numbers were pretty good, but his bench press was average and his explosiveness numbers were below average.
As a general rule, Luvu is at his best when coming downhill. He's much more likely to shoot a gap to blow up a run or meet a runner in the hole than to hold up at the point of attack or shed a block.
He has good footwork and uses his hands well, but has been described as "top-heavy".
As a sign of what you might expect if Luvu (#51) saw action up at the line at the NFL level, he gets swallowed up by a double-team by the left side of the offensive line after shifting into a defensive end role at the snap:
Luvu can set the edge effectively at times. However, he also allowed a tight end to kick him out and seal him on the outside on this jet sweep to create a big running lane:
His quickness is an asset against linemen. He crashes down here, avoiding a block to blow up a short yardage run between the tackles:
From the ILB position, Luvu often showcased his ability to close well on ball carriers when able to play in space:
After moving to the rush role, Luvu increased his pass rushing production with 6.5 sacks in his senior year, including a breakout 2.5 sack game early in the year against Boise State. However, he doesn't generate a lot of pressure.
Virtually all of these sacks came as he was unblocked or cleaning up. He didn't show much in the way of pass rush moves or the ability the beat a one-on-one matchup, although he had success with an arm over move at times.
Here was one of his sacks, on an effective stunt up the middle:
Luvu is a big hitter, who will stop runners in their tracks and wrap up and drive through them. His closing speed is good and he can pursue out to the sideline but sometimes takes overaggressive angles.
Here's a missed tackle as the quarterback escaped the pocket:
Luvu has dropped into coverage a lot and has mostly only been targeted on short passes. This was the biggest play he gave up as he dropped into a deep zone and the yardage didn't prove costly as the runner was stopped inbounds as time expired in the half:
When backs motioned out wide or into the slot, Luvu was comfortable dropping off to pick them up one-on-one.
He had a pass defensed and two interceptions last season, dropping into a passing lane nicely to snare this one:
Luvu played without hesitation in his ILB role, although that's symptomatic of his role within that scheme. As noted, when playing OLB, he would often stay at home at the snap and read the play and react accordingly.
It didn't seem like Luvu blew many assignments although he jumped offside once last year and was perhaps responsible for the receiver on this blown coverage:
Luvu is an energetic and physical player, who shows plenty of hustle, although he would need to show more in terms of taking on blocks in the Jets system.
Here was a big hit that knocked Brett Rypien out of the Boise State game:
Luvu looks like a player who would have a lot of special teams potential and managed to win a special teams player of the year award when in high school.
His production was somewhat disappointing in college though, although he made a few plays in his freshman year. He had three special teams penalties and no tackles in 2017.
On this punt runback, Luvu is playing deep and manages to shed one block, but still can't get outside to contain the return:
Luvu was also a kickoff specialist in highschool, recording a touchback 90 percent of the time. It seems unlikely that this would come into play at the NFL level, but you never know what a team might have to do in an emergency.
Other than the three special teams penalties and the offside flag already mentioned, Luvu had two other penalties in 2017. One was a personal foul for clotheslining the quarterback on a hit and the other was a pass interference call in the end zone as a running back got behind him on a wheel route.
Prior to 2017, he had just two penalties in three years.
Luvu doesn't appear to have had any injury issues over the course of his college career. He missed some games earlier on in his career because the Cougars had been intending to redshirt him.
Much like many of the players the Jets have brought in this offseason, Luvu has outstanding intangibles. He has no off-field issues and is regarded as mild-mannered off the field but a monster on it.
Luvu watches a lot of film and is his own worst critic, which apparently makes him extremely coachable. Head coach Mike Leach reportedly called him a "run-through-the-wall" type, who leads by example.
Luvu might be considered a bit of a tweener but it's unclear exactly what role the Jets have in mind for him. In his situation, the versatility to play multiple positions is probably more important than the fact he isn't necessarily ideally suited to one.
He could end up in the mix for a backup ILB role, especially since those players won't get many (if any) defensive reps. If he did, his physicality there could be useful for taking on blockers. However, if he played on the outside, he'd probably be used on the strongside and is not really suited for a situational rusher role. In terms of his dual role, he's probably most similar to Brandon Copeland from the current roster, although Copeland is listed as 30 pounds heavier. How they use either of them will be interesting to follow.
He was a teammate of Xavier Cooper during his freshman season.
Luvu follows a pattern of young players that have been lauded for their intangibles although they weren't highly sought after in the pre-draft process.
He adds to the linebacking depth on this team and will look to show something on special teams but - despite last year's sack total - doesn't seem to address the team's need for production from their edge rushers.
Obviously he's a longshot to make the roster, but will be hoping to show enough in training camp to contend for a practice squad spot.