27 Oct 2020

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2020 Draft Gems Part III: Justin Strnad, LB, Wake Forest

Aug 31, 2017; Winston-Salem, NC, USA; Wake Forest Demon Deacons linebacker Justin Strnad (23) intercepts a pass in the second quarter against the Presbyterian Blue Hose at BB&T Field. Mandatory Credit: Jeremy Brevard-USA TODAY Sports



238 LBS

Hometown: Palm, Harbor, Fl

Projected Rd: 5-6

Combine Results

40 Yd DashBench PressVertical JumpBroad Jump3 Cone Drill20 Yd ShuttleSPARQ
4.74DNP29.0”113.0”DNP4.49101.7 (#25 LB)


Justin Strnad hails from Palm Harbor, Florida where he played for East Lake high and totaled 81 tackles, 8 deflections, 3 tackles for a loss, 3 sacks and 3 interceptions as a senior. Was a three star recruit and received offers from 18 teams.

Strnad redshirted his first year at Wake Forest. In his redshirt freshman year he appeared in 8 games but was a backup. Appeared in all 13 games as a sophomore totaling 32 tackles, 19 assists, 51 total tackles, 8.5 tackles for loss, 4.5 sacks, 3 interceptions and 2 forced fumbles. Started all 13 games as a junior and recorded 105 total tackles, 8.5 tackles for loss, 1.5 sacks, 5 deflections but no interceptions.

As a senior Wake Forest switched to a 3-4 scheme and Justin Strnad started at ILB for 7 games before suffering a season ending bicep injury. Before the injury he had 69 total tackles, 5.5 tfl’s, 2 sacks, 1 interception, & 4 deflections.

Pros & Cons + Examples


  • Game speed (straight-line + sideline to sideline)

Runs down running back from the other side of the field, sideline-to-sideline speed on display

  • Proficient shooting + filling inside gaps/can fight through traffic on the inside
  • Man coverage ability

Covering the slot receiver, makes nice play on the ball batting it away

  • Awareness/Eye discipline in zone
  • High motor

Definition of a high-motor play. Runs down receiver from behind showing that straight-line speed once he gets into 2nd gear. Not only saved the touchdown but knocked the ball out from behind which was recovered by Wake Forest.


  • Below average instincts, read & react ability needs some work
  • Over-commits too often

Over-commits to the inside gap gong downhill, should of stayed more patient.

  • Overall feel in zone, spacing issues

Gave way too much cushion, should of came down as soon as he saw the running back come into his zone

  • Tackling form (mostly due to going for the big hit and not wrapping up)
  • Bites on too many play-fakes/RPO’s


Justin Strnad is a 5th year senior with a plethora of experience. Wake Forest ran a 3-4 defense during the 2019 season and Justin Strnad played as an inside linebacker. Wake Forest previously ran a 4-3 defense, and Strnad was the middle linebacker in that scheme.

Strnad is definitely a good athlete. While his short-area quickness and flexibility isn’t the greatest, he has impressive straight-line speed, which makes his rather poor 40 time surprising.

The tape doesn’t lie though, and his game speed far exceeds what his 40 time suggests. His athleticism shows in his coverage ability, though his coverage ability as a whole still needs some cleaning up. He has closing speed and times his breaks onto the ball well in zone, but his overall feel in zone is lacking. Often doesn’t get the right depth or will give too much room over the top or underneath.

In man to man coverage, Strnad was solid. He lined up in the nickle to cover receivers often and was usually right there with them in coverage. He also showed the ability to play the ball and knows how to get his hands in there and break it up.

Against the run, Justin Strnad is up and down. His read and react is hit and miss. Often he will bite on RPO’s or over-commit to a gap without letting the play process first. He does however excel and shooting gaps and plugging lanes when he does shoot the right gap, and if he can clean up his tackling form he should be a plus run defender at the next level with some development.

While his tackling is poor, he is a physical hitter. He is not afraid to lay the wood and tries to make the big hit whenever he can which may be one of the reasons for his tackling struggles.

All in all, Strnad has the potential to be a middling starter in the NFL in my personal opinion. He is projected to go in the later rounds, and if that is the case he would be a great value for any LB needy team with his blend of athleticism and potential to be a 3 down player.

Grade: 5.99 = Future Starter (5.50 – 5.99)

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