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Khairi Fortt, Cal linebacker: NFL Draft profile

Will Fortt sneak in these final rounds and get picked?

Robert Hanashiro-USA TODAY Sport

I know our memories are a bit few and far between of Fortt. He was here for one year on the worst defense in Cal football history. mainly because he was mostly finishing off the trash that our defense was spewing from game to game last season. Fortt was sixth on the team in tackles with 62, but didn’t make any huge defensive plays one would probably remember (3.5 tackles for loss, 0.5 sacks)

So let’s go quickly through some of the tape of Fortt’s one and only season at Cal. Here is some tape of some of his best plays at Cal.

Among our playmakers on defense, Fortt was definitely the one with the most athletic skill. He’s the only player who had the chasedown speed to catch players who broke into open space without making any plays. He moves well from size to size and shows great burst in moving back and tracking down ball-carriers.

Fortt does a good job sticking his man when he’s running right at him. He plugs the hole and wraps up his defender to stop him in his tracks. Fortt does nothing flashy, doesn’t make big hits, he just gets the job done when he faces his man in one-on-one situations, whether it be inside or plunging outside. Unfortunately, there were just too many occasions when the gaps were too big.

The big issue is that while Fortt performed well, the rest of the midline really struggled. Jalen Jefferson and Hardy Nickerson made plenty of mistakes in allowing runners to get the outside or burst through the inside (and it got worst when those guys were injured and replaced with even greener faces). Compounded by an inexperienced secondary taking bad angles on too many occasions, and Fortt didn’t have as many opportunities as he would’ve liked to make plays.

Fortt also occasionally flashes into intermediate coverage in zone defense, and does have good instincts at playing the ball and avoiding pass interference penalties. You’ll see him get his paws on a few plays and make it difficult for the receiver to come down with the ball.

There are a lot of little things that Fortt is doing that can help him become a solid NFL prospect down the line. He just needed more help when he was here at Cal.