Today I take a look at two 4-3 defensive ends who look primed to go in the first round of this years’ draft.
Rashan Gary, DE, Michigan
At 6’4″ 281, Rashan Gary has ideal size and then some. He was a large part of the Wolverines success as a defense the last two seasons, and has had NFL written all over him since signing day.
Gary has impressive speed and get-off for a man his size. He can win with speed against slower or unprepared tackles. He consistently uses his hands and attempts to rip blockers off of him.
Sometimes Gary is even too eager to get to the player with the ball. His aggressiveness and power can be used against him. Gary can get washed away in the run game, but with some better coaching this is something that can be easily fixed.
My main concern with Gary is general ability to sack the QB rather than pressure. His sack production in 3 years at U of M is less than ideal for a 4-3 D-End that will likely be taken in the top 15. He is versatile, and with Gary’s ability to push the pocket we could see him take some reps at 3-Tech for whichever team drafts him.
Another odd thing I noticed on film is that he consistently lines up about a head behind his other d-lineman. Not sure if this was a coaching thing or not. Despite this his get off is still good.
Overall Gary looks to be worthy of his current standing in many mock drafts around the community. His shoulder needs to check out in Indy, if it does he will be a very solid pick. Gary to me is a high floor low ceiling guy. You’re getting a very skilled football player, but I don’t see him being a 10 sack guy year in and year out in the NFL.
Comp: Cam Heyward
Round Projection: Top 15 (pending shoulder)
Montez Sweat, DE, Mississippi State
Unlike Gary, Sweat has quality sack production in college, getting double digits in both his seasons with the Bulldogs. However, I am less excited about Sweat’s potential for the NFL.
I like that he put on some weight for the Senior Bowl. Sweat played at about 240 in college, I think he needs to get up to about 255-265 to really become a force in the league. On film he just gets pushed around a little to much in the run game.
Sweat has a really good first step. He uses his length to his advantage and is able to keep tackles from getting in his grill. He also has decent rip moves, however I would like to see them deployed earlier in his rush. Often he only goes to the rip once his initial bull rush has stalled. His massive wingspan also helps him greatly in the run game and tackling in space.
My biggest concern with Sweat is his leverage and inability to bend the corner. Obviously this is not as important for a 4-3 DE than it would be an 3-4 OLB/Edge guy, but it still matters. At 6’5″ Sweat can get stood up easily, and does not fire from his hips nearly as well as desired. When he attempts to bend the edge, he often gets washed out and the QB can step up into the pocket.
Sweat is a second/third round grade for me but he probably ends up going in the first round. He had a really impressive Senior Bowl week, so the draft process may be kind to him.
Comp: Taller Nate Orchard
Round Projection: 1st Round