I'm not an NFL scout. Nor am I Mike Mayock. I'm just a guy with some free time and one that loves the draft process almost as much as the season. So figured I'd just talk about what I look for in a specific position, and then look at a prospect.
This edition, I'm going to talk about what I look for in the Giants' favorite position 43 DE.
At pre-snap, what I look for in a pass rusher, of course, when evaluating as a DE is whether or not he's got his hand in the dirt. That's pretty obvious. Next, I look to see how far off the player is from the opposing offensive linemen. The infamous Wide-9 is classic for leaving defenders at least 3 feet lateral to the opposing tackle. The Giants will play their ends no more than 1 or 2 feet on a regular down, but will move to that wide-9 position on obvious passing situations.
I also look for the bend in the knees pre-snap. If the player's arse is too far up, he might not have that explosive first step that we all love. If he's bent over too much, he loses leverage. Ideally, you want that balance where the player is like that "coiled spring" ready to explode.
INITIAL BURST to FIRST CONTACT
The first step is crucial. It's the key to the rest of the play. What it essentially means is the timing and explosion off the snap to get to a certain spot and beat the offensive tackle to that spot. This sets you up in a ton of ways. For one, you can decide whether to go outside or inside and have the OT guess, and two, if you are fast enough, you can avoid the offensive tackle's punch entirely and get a clear lane to the QB. A great example is our very own Osi Umenyiora, who has the fastest first step in the game today. He's made his living on basically this first step where he times the snap so well, that he looks like he's offside a lot of the time. This allows him to bend around the OT and get that strip sack.
When (if) the offensive lineman hits you with that punch, I look for any bounce backwards. That lets me know what sort of base and power the defensive end has. Obviously, minimal knockback is preferred.
FIRST CONTACT to the END OF THE PLAY
First thing first, I look to see if the player has his head up and recognizes whether its a run play or a pass play. They'll often start out pass rushing, or sit back in run defense/pass coverage, but that's just based on the play call. I want to see if they can adjust on the fly and close in on the running back.
If they are going to continue pass rushing, I'd like to see if they are a natural RDE or LDE. An RDE in our system is the prototype speed guy that goes up against the left tackle. By this point in the play, its all about gaining leverage. Speed rushers need to be flexible because they usually (Jason Pierre-Paul aside) aren't strong enough to push through the tackle's block. One thing I look for when they are on the tackle's outside shoulder is the angle made between their legs and the ground. The lower the angle, the better, because that means they can take a sharper cut to the QB, and the lower they are, the more difficult it is for the tackle to get their hands on the player. That bend will give the rusher the upperhand, and if he can do that consistently, it bodes quite well for the player in the future.
If you've got an LDE, you've got your power rusher. They gain leverage by physically manhandling the tackle. They make ample use of the bullrush and then try and transition that into a swim or rip move. They willfully engage in block, and they twist and push the tackle to get by them. I look for their waste and hips. If they can twist the hips fluidly while not getting pushed back, it bodes quite well for the player in the future.
For both types, another aspect to look at is hand movement. When they get engaged with the offensive line, you want to see active hands. By that, I mean, look to see if they are fighting off the engaged blocker. Power rushers will try and take on the hands, get into the shoulder pads, push forward while driving the legs, and either rip inside or outside. Speed rushers can use the hands to get enough traction to pull of a spin move, or to simply fight off any wandering hands as they try and bend around the tackle. This is precisely why arm length matters.
Finally, what I look to see is motor plays. By that, I mean, do they continue to try and navigate the wash to get to the QB if their initial foray fails? If the running back gets by them, do they hustle up field to try and get to the play? Basically, just want to see hustle and work, and see it on a consistent basis. That's what separates guys like Trent Cole or Justin Tuck from guys like Albert Haynesworth.
So, that's basically what I look for in a Giants pass rusher on film. Not too hard! I wanted to use this information to look at a passrusher that could be a potential target for the Giants. Not Whitney Mercilus, or Andre Branch, or Nick Perry, because we've talked about those guys a lot. I want to look at Chandler Jones. Here are his measurables:
Ht: 6-5 Wt: 267 40: 4.85 Bench: 22 Broad: 10-0 Vert: 35 Arm: 35.5
Chandler Jones vs West Virginia (via MetaDraft)
0:00 - Good stance, like that coiled spring we talked about. Good jump off the snap, goes unblocked. Nice reaction to running the ball and adjustment to turn his hips and leap to make the tackle for minimal gain off the LOS.
0:11 - Playing inside. The entire line gets off at the same time and collapses on each other towards the middle. He gets lost inside, and I can't really see too much. Someone was able to get pressure on the QB though.
0:25 - A tad slow coming off the snap, tries to beat the tackle off the edge, but the tackle gets to the spot before him. Gets driven past the QB.
0:33 - Good burst off the snap. Once again, shows great recognition and change of direction to get back into run defense. What I didn't like is that he let up as soon as the RB got past him and started jogging. Would've liked him to keep up the speed on the off chance he could jar the ball loose once the RB slowed down.
0:47 - Sets up in a pure pass-rushing stance, facing inwards from a wide position. Tries a power move to gain leverage, almost exactly like we talked about. Tries to twist the offensive tackle, who stays in an open stance to "receive" the blow by Jones, and is able to push him backwards and effectively help collapse the pocket. Shows nice power.
1:00 - Jones is certainly showing up to be a nice run defender. Goes unblocked by the offensive line, but tries to get blocked by the FB down low. Is able to hurdle that and shows good pursuit and is able to barely trip up the running back. Once again, shows nice speed and change of direction.
1:12 - Tries stunting inside, gets great penetration. Doesn't realize its a screen early, though. Also looks like he gets held by the facemask at the end of the rush. Shows nice ability to navigate the wash up front. Not worried about him getting upright here because he went essentially unblocked. And once again, he shows great athleticism by recovering, turning his hips around, and having that high motor to run and tackle the pass catcher before he can get a 1st down. Excellent play.
1:26 - Tries another power move, and is able to push back the tackle towards the QB. Don't think that qualifies as a pressure because the QB got rid of it without really getting hurried.Good, active, hands though, and is able to fight the tackle's punch.
1:36 - Good explosion off the snap this time, but the tackle is too fast, and gets his body in front of Jones before he can speed by. Jones has a bit of trouble disengaging from the offensive tackle, but does it quickly enough. Gets turned around, but doesn't quit on the play. QB is going down because of pressure from teammate, but fast recovery for Jones turns into a cheap sack for him.
1:47 - GREAT play here by Jones. Gets an adequate jump (could've gotten a bit more, his pre-snap bend is a little inconsistent...was too high here) and throws his body into the offensive lineman's punch. This is where the arm length plays a factor. He is able to stay engaged with the OL, but he can transition inwardly without getting pushed back because of those long arms. He didn't allow himself to get too upright where the tackle can lean and push with more force. This lets him disengage when he wants to: when he arrives at the QB for the sack. Prime example of how to use a bullrush to gain leverage.
2:07 - Tries to go inside, gets stonewalled by the guard. Keeps fighting, but he got too upright and therefore, shortened his arms and couldn't get traction and power from his lower body. However, he did manage to bat the ball out of the air, so that works just fine.
2:19 - Great first step here when Jones stunts inside. Can't fully beat the guard, who gets turned around. Gets enough of a hold on Jones to prevent him to get there, but the QB does get hurried. Other crap is happening too, which Jones gets caught up on in the end.
2:29 - They have Jones dropping back into coverage in some sort zone blitz. He's out of the play for a lot, so can't tell much, but he does a good job closing from sideline to sideline to get in on the play. High motor play.
2:42 - One of the weirdest formations I've seen. Gets stood up and stone walled for bad technique again. Allows himself to get too upright and then gets shoved back. Had trouble disengaging because the OL didn't allow him to extend his arms away.
3:00 - Again, gets too upright out of his stance. Wasn't allowed to make a move because he couldn't disengage again. Two bad plays in a row for Jones.
3:12 - You can tell that he's a bit lower in his stance, more bend. No surprise that he gets a faster jump. Almost able to beat the tackle this time on the outside as he bends in. The QB moves up to avoid the sack, but still gets hurried. Nice play.
3:26 - Was playing run all the way. Tried transitioning back and in to get to the running back, but was effectively blocked out of the way by the tackle. Was confused as to where to go, and therefore, didn't get enough momentum to fight back.
3:34 - Gets great penetration, and is awfully quick to get upfield. Stays low, but doesn't get blocked anyway. Problem was that he lost contain on that side, which left a void for the RB to get a solid amount of yards.
3:46 - Great recognition and hustle play by Jones. You don't often see a man that big able to change direction and accelerate that fast to get to a RB/WR on a quick screen. Wonderful play by Jones.
4:02 - Gets double teamed initially, and is too much to handle for the Guard once the tackle drops off. Helped collapse the pocket along with a bunch of his teammates. Looked very much like a Giant-type play.
4:25 - We cannot see the play start here, but we do see a glimpse of Jones disengaging and getting a free release towards to the QB, who flips it to a receiver. Jones disappears from the screen, but we see him pop up to help make the tackle. Can't tell much except he was not only able to get pressure, but he got up, got to the other side, and made the tackle on the other end of the field. Great hustle.
4:42 - Another power rush. Again gets a bit too upright, but is able to disengage effectively. The QB moves up towards Jones, who looks like he's about to get another sack until the QB throws it up for grabs for an INT.
4:59 - Another play where Jones doesn't go full speed after the QB, but he once again is able to run fast enough to catch up to a receiver and tackle him from behind. Another example of great hustle.
5:12 - Beautiful rush by Chandler Jones. Good first step, stays low enough, gets leverage to the point where the OL can do nothing except grab his neck to slow him down. The QB gets the ball out quickly enough, but that was a great rush.
5:22 - A power rush, the QB avoid the first missile-like leap by a blitzer, only to fumble. Good presence of mind by Jones, who gains inside leverage on the OL, to try and jump on the ball.
5:40 - Tries a straight up bull rush. Gets double teamed, but still manages to drive back both because he's churning his legs. Nice play.
Conclusion: Jones has a nice blend of power with great short area quickness. He's a strong run defender, with a high motor that has great closing speed. He is inconsistent with his technique and sometimes gets a bit upright. He has long arms, which allows him to disengage from blocks a bit easier, though at times he'll get stonewalled. This was obviously a good tape of him, and shows a nice bull rush. However, he doesn't really show a second pass rush move to help him disengage. A good rip move after his bullrush could be devastating with the athleticism and arm length that he has.
His first step is also inconsistent. Sometimes he's timed the snap well, but on others, he's a bit sluggish. That needs to be worked on, but he clearly has the tools to succeed. He's a high 2nd rounder in my eyes because of the inconsistencies in his pre-snap knee bend, his first step, and the fact that he's unpolished with his pass rushing moves. He showcases great athleticism on some of the plays where he runs down running backs, as well as good power in some of his moves. Would definitely look good in Giants blue if he inexplicably falls to 63.