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NFL Draft Report: Day 2 defensive end prospects

Maryland v Ohio State
Sam Hubbard
Photo by Jamie Sabau/Getty Images

Rasheen Green - USC

The staff at The NFL Draft Report would not be surprised to see this collegiate strong-side defensive end get selected early in the second round. His speed and range even have had several teams putting him through the paces during linebacker drills. That is a sharp contrast from the position teams targeted him for in Indianapolis, as he was originally brought in with the defensive tackle group. You can say his 4.73 clocking in the 40-yard dash at 275 pounds quickly had defensive coordinators begging to test that speed on the edge.

Manning the strong-side defensive end position the last two years, Green has been a quarterback’s nightmare. Through his last 26 appearances, he made 98 tackles, but he got to the quarterback 16 times during 19 stops in the opposing backfields. With his leaping ability, six of his eight pass rejections came on third-down snaps.

Green Scouting Report

Body Structure...Green has a big frame with developing upper body muscles. He has good arm length and reach, showing a tight abdomen and a frame that can carry at least another ten pounds of bulk with no loss in quickness. He has a good bubble, solid thigh and calf thickness and fluid change of direction agility.

Athletic Ability... Green has that rare speed that lets him consistently explode past a lethargic offensive tackle. He can be sudden in his initial movement, but lacks the overall strength, especially in his lower body, to escape from the blocker once the opponent latches on to him. He changes direction well and has the lateral range to give a good chase in backside pursuit. He demonstrates good knee bend and loose hips to redirect. When he stays low in his pads, he can generate leverage and keep his balance on the move. He shows a good flow to the ball working down the line and has made very good strides in improving his footwork, but will still take a wide angle to the quarterback at times. He is efficient at using his arms in defeating reach blocks, but must develop more consistency with his hand thrust to jolt offensive linemen coming out of their stance. His lateral agility allows him to play faster than his timed speed and when he keeps his pads down, his low center of gravity prevents blockers from locking on and dragging him to the ground.

Football Sense... Green is an intelligent athlete who does well in school, having overcome a speech impediment with the help of the USC coaching staff. He shows a natural feel for the game and is very good at jumping the play. He shows a nose for the ball, evident by the high amount of quarterback sacks and chase-downs he has generated (see 2017 Texas, Washington State, Oregon State, Arizona State, Ohio State games). He has a good understanding of pass rush technique, but needs to be more active with his hands in attempts to keep blockers off his feet. He can take well to hard coaching and is a self-starter who doesn’t need structure in the training room. He shows a good passion for the game and works hard to improve. He knows when he needs to get vocal with teammates and is the type whose performances push others to play up to their ability.

Explosion/Pursuit...Green has very good explosiveness off the snap. He has learned the proper technique of opening his hips and dipping his shoulders to get a strong push in his initial thrust. He has the sudden initial step off the ball to beat the offensive tackle off the edge, but will sometimes take a wide angle around the corner, leaving him susceptible to screen and draw plays to his side (see 2017 Arizona, Colorado games). When he keeps his pads down, he gets good leverage and that allows him to get penetration. If he can improve his upper body power and shoot his hands more, he would be more effective at beating double teams. Still, he excels at timing his jumps and anticipating the flow of the ball.

Strength at the Point of Attack...Green is capable of playing with leverage and has good strength, but needs to develop better hand placement to keep blockers off his body. He needs to stay lower in his pads to get through trash, but when he gets too erect in his stance, blockers can get underneath him and attack his legs. He has shown marked improvement utilizing pass rush moves (better rip, swim and club moves). He has the lower body thickness to split double teams and possesses the change of direction flexibility to drop his weight and redirect when the gaps are plugged. When he keeps his hands active, his long arm reach allows him to defeat the combo block and reroute in back side pursuit, but he needs to use those hands with more consistency.

Use of Hands...Green is still learning how to rely upon his long reach and good hand strength to defeat blocks and keep the opponent off his body. He has the ability to dip his shoulder to reach, grab and jerk the blocker off his stance. Later in 2017, he became better at using his hands to guard his legs vs. the chop block (opponents only had three knockdowns in the last six games of the 2017 season vs. Green). He does a solid job with his body lean and ability to slip off the offensive tackle’s inside shoulder. You can see on late 2017 film his improvement of using his hands to gain inside position (see Arizona State, Stanford, Ohio State games).

Lateral Pursuit/Effort...Green is a disruptive force when he is utilized on stunts. He has the nimble feet and lateral range to flow to the ball with ease and can close in the short area with good explosion. He has the speed to chase down plays in backside pursuit and the change of direction agility to make plays outside the box. He is usually relentless in pursuit and does a good job of opening his hips, but he will struggle to free himself once a linemen gets into his body (short arms quite a bit). He has the quickness and balance to move through traffic and make plays laterally. His in-line quickness allows him to close almost immediately in the short area.

Tackling Ability...Green is a good collision tackler, but will sometimes revert to grabbing and making arm tackles. He is just starting to develop a better concept of gaining position, staying low in his pads and maintaining leverage in order to make the wrap-up tackle. He will sometimes take too wide of a loop, causing him to over-pursue the play, but he has the vision to sift through traffic and quickly see the play develop. He is flexible when attempting to make body adjustments to slip through trash and has the valid foot speed to bounce to the outside in order to string out and make plays along the sidelines.

Run Defense...Green relies on quickness more than brute strength to penetrate inside. He plays with good leverage and strength, but they will be negated when he fails to use his arms to combat blocks. He is very determined coming off the snap and until he improves his hand technique, he can compensate with explosiveness off the snap to get good penetration and disrupt the play. When he drops his weight and plays with leverage, he can prevent the blockers from washing him out when working in-line. His low center of gravity lets him get into the rush lane and push back the lead blocker to clog the holes. You can see on film that he has a good feel for blocking schemes.

Pass Rush...Green is a load in pursuit, especially when coming off the edge. He might take wide angles at times, but he has the flexibility and balance to come back down under. Despite his lack of hand usage, he sees the field well and is quick to spot even the slightest of creases in order to shoot the gaps. He is effective with his counter moves working to the inside. His spin moves and quickness lets him easily defeat the slower offensive tackles when working off the edge. He has very good hand usage that he combines with his burst to play off blocks and consistently pressure the quarterback. He has the strength to bull rush and push the pocket. His flexibility has also improved, as he does a better job of opening his hips (used to be a little stiff and took false steps when changing direction).

Closing on the Quarterback...This is what the Trojan does best. Green is very effective at closing on the pocket. He has the speed to chase down the passer from the backside and generates a second gear to be disruptive, as his short area burst lets him close on the quarterback. He shows good urgency chasing from the backside and has the balance needed to stop, plant and redirect. He needs to use his hand jolt with force to rock the blockers back on their heels though.

Instincts/Recognition...Green has developed a good feel for blocking schemes. He is quick to find the ball in a crowd and is alert to offensive adjustments at the pre-snap. He can still be fooled a bit by play action or misdirection, but he generally has a natural feel for the flow of the ball. He is much more effective shooting the gaps in passing situations, especially when given a clear lane, but even though he needs to improve his hand usage working in-line, he has the leverage and body control to consistently make plays vs. the run.

Compares To...Jamaal Anderson-ex Atlanta Falcons... It is evident that Green is a great speed rusher coming off the edge or when stunting. Like Anderson, he needs to demonstrate better hand usage to keep blockers off his body, but both have the lateral range, second gear and explosion to be a disruptive force in the backfield.

Green has that rare speed that lets him consistently explode past a lethargic offensive tackle. He can be sudden in his initial movement to escape from the blocker once the opponent latches on to him. He changes direction well and has the lateral range to give a good chase in backside pursuit. He demonstrates good knee bend and loose hips to redirect. When he stays low in his pads, he can generate leverage and keep his balance on the move.

The USC talent shows a good flow to the ball working down the line and has made very good strides in improving his footwork, but will still take a wide angle to the quarterback at times. He is efficient at using his arms in defeating reach blocks, but must develop more consistency with his hand thrust to jolt offensive linemen coming out of their stance. His lateral agility allows him to play faster than his timed speed and when he keeps his pads down, his low center of gravity prevents blockers from locking on and dragging him to the ground.

Sam Hubbard - Ohio State

San Hubbard’s knowledge of the game makes him a future coaching candidate.

Overview...You have to be impressed how quick this neophyte defensive end has developed, considering that the gridiron was not his first choice for an athletic scholarship. Now, teams will have to determine if they will have patience for letting him develop, as his poor Pro Day performance exposed the fact he tried to hide at the NFL Scouting Combine when he refused to perform in the speed and strength drills.

Hubbard Scouting Report

Body Structure...Hubbard has solid muscle tone, thick chest, broad shoulders, thick thighs and calves and a good bubble. He has low body fat and could use more bulk on his frame, but he does a good job of maintaining his anchor, thanks to a powerful leg base.

Athletic Ability... Hubbard is a strong, powerful defender with excellent explosion and quickness to get to the football. He is the type of player who shows up on every snap. He plays with tough aggression and is a disruptive force who needs to be accounted for on every play. He has fluid change of direction skills and a quick first step that allows him to surprise a lethargic offensive lineman. His flexibility and balance allow him to change direction without having to take false steps. He also displays good knee bend, hip flip and balance to stay up on his feet. Hubbard demonstrates the acceleration needed in backside pursuit to close on the pocket in a hurry, as he makes most of his plays on the move, thanks to an above average closing burst.

Football Sense... There may not be a better guy to coach. Hubbard does all that is asked and is not a showboat – he just comes to play. He is still learning the nuances of the game and picking up the “tricks of the trade” playing his position, but he is a leader by example type. The thing you see on film is that he always plays at a high tempo. He is an outstanding worker on the field who has a true passion for the game. He is the type of player that brings out the best in his teammates, either by setting an example or pushing his mates to play better. Off the field, he is a respectful type, but his personality changes once he puts on that uniform. He is never out of line on what he does on the field and won’t generate foolish penalties, but he is a very focused talent who can use his keen vision and burst to wreak havoc in the backfield.

Hubbard plays at a high intensity level, showing urgency in everything that he does and pushes his teammates to get the best out of their abilities. His motor is constantly running and he has impressive football toughness. He plays with a mean streak and will not hesitate to mix it up with offensive linemen in the trenches, despite giving up considerable bulk to those opponents. He hustles until the whistle and has little regard for his body, not hesitating to sacrifice himself, if it means he can make the play.

Explosion/Pursuit...Coming off the snap, Hubbard shows the quickness to get into the offensive lineman. He has good closing speed and does a superb job of anticipating the play, but lacks the explosive first step that can let him consistently beat tackles coming off the edge. However, he does a very good job of timing his jumps and uses his leg drive effectively to redirect. When he comes off the block, he needs to use his hands better when attempting to deliver a crunching blow, as he has the power that can rock the much bigger blockers back on their heels. He shows good suddenness and a strong concept for taking angles, along with the ability to get “skinny” slipping through tight gaps to disrupt the pocket. He is a quick twitch type but you want to see him play with more active hands. He shows above average balance on the move, where he can highlight his initial quickness, as he has had very good success using his swim move to beat the blocker off the snap with the suddenness generated in his first step. He also displayed better hand quickness later in the 2017 season (see Michigan State, Michigan, USC games).

Strength at Point...Hubbard understands leverage, but is not overly powerful at the point of attack. He has to develop stronger and more active hands. He shows good outside arm-free strength and leverage when isolated on the edge, but will often leave his chest exposed, causing blockers to latch on. He can get across face quickly and has the lower body strength and flexibility to sink his hips, drop his weight and gain leverage, though. He just lacks the arm power and body control to split double teams, even when he keeps his pad level down, and he can be engulfed when he gets too narrow and upright in his stance. It is his lateral quickness that lets him beat most blocks, helping him compensate for a lack of bulk that does see him get engulfed by the bigger linemen, when his opponents are able to get a piece of his jersey. Even when he is not quick to shed, he can cross face fast, but a explosion off the snap shows up at the X’s when taking on double teams.

Even though he gives up bulk when taking on big offensive tackles, Hubbard has the frame to add the power needed to be stout at the point of attack, but it is his ability to make plays on the move (see 2017 Oklahoma, Penn State, Michigan, USC games) that excites scouts. In the second half of 2017, he did a much better job of staying down in his pads more, which allowed him to play with better leverage. He needs to develop the natural brute strength to hold his ground at the point of attack, but I still feel he is best as a move oriented tackler, making a shift to strong-side linebacker or as an edge rusher better ways for him to contribute as he develops.

Use of Hands...Hubbard shows very good effort vs. the double team, but he can be stalled when he fails to protect his legs by using his hands effectively to keep blockers off his body. Because of hand usage issues and just adequate playing strength, he needs to angle or stay on the move to prevent bigger blockers from absorbing him. He has the hand punch and quick arms to play with authority when he locks on, but he needs to keep those hands inside his frame to deliver proper force behind his hits. He just lacks fast-paced hand action for him to gain inside position.

Vs. tight ends and fullbacks, he has had good success in controlling his opponent with his hand usage (see 2017 Rutgers, Michigan games). If he can develop ideal upper body strength, it will allow him a better chance to keep separation vs. the run. He does have that hand jolt to shock a lineman when attempting to get to the quarterback on the pass rush, but because of inconsistent hand usage, he can be stalemated. Later in 2017, he did show that he could keep his hands active and inside his framework to prevent blockers from absorbing him. When his coaches do not let him attack the backfield, his lack of hand usage and explosion becomes evident, as he will get bounced around by the offensive tackles. Playing on the move, he makes good use of his agility and long reach to get a push off the blocker in attempts to escape. For some reason, when he works in-line, he will get his body exposed and does not keep blockers away. Once he develops hand quickness, he can be more effective in attempts to throw and jerk the blocker when on the move.

Lateral Pursuit/Effort...Hubbard stays on his feet and pursues well. He has a very active motor and is rarely taken off his feet when he uses his hands properly to gain separation. His change of direction agility and straight-ahead burst are very effective in letting him close in the short area. He takes good angles in pursuit and shows the foot speed to play outside the box. He has the quickness and stamina to “run the field” and will not hesitate to sacrifice his body to make the hit. He is an active, high energy type who can disengage, clear his feet and chase hard, showing more than enough burst to run plays down in pursuit. The thing you see on film is his good hip flip that he uses effectively to get an edge.

Once the coaches let him roam the field in the second half of 2017, Hubbard used his ability to pursue laterally (see 2017 Michigan State, Michigan, USC contests). He is a solid effort type of player who has the burst to chase down plays when going long distances and when he keeps his feet, he had good success chasing down plays to make the tackle for a loss.

Tackling Ability...Hubbard is still learning wrap-up technique, but he is an active tackler who will strike and deliver a blow. He is effective as a drag-down tackler after the chase and is also adept at stopping the ball carrier at the line of scrimmage with his leg drive and low-pad tackling technique (see 2017 Oklahoma, Penn State games). He will hit with good explosion when working in the short area and makes fluid body adjustments when in space. He shows just decent hand quickness to unload and shock a blocker, but can strike with good form when he stays low in his pads. He might not have the strength to punish ball carriers with the force, but he does make big plays with his open field and backfield hits. When he brings his hips and squares up, he can wrap and secure.

Run Defense...If Hubbard can get a side and keep it, he will use his lower body to hold at the point of attack in one-on-one situations, but his lack of “sand in his pants” and hand usage will see him struggle vs. double teams. When he gets a little high in his stance or leaves his body exposed, he struggles to shed. He is functionally strong and plays with leverage at the point of attack, but is best served on the move, as his sudden quickness off the snap allows him to disrupt the action in the backfield. He is a better fit for a 3-4 alignment, as he has the mobility and ability to locate at the point of attack, showing relentlessness in his pursuit. Still, he is much better on the move than when anchoring. He is just best when he’s making plays in pursuit rather than facing up and getting into one-one-one battles with offensive lineman. Yes, he does have adequate strength, but not the good hand usage and powerful punch needed to overpower 325-pounders on a steady basis.

Pass Rush...As a pass rusher, Hubbard can beat a lethargic lineman with his speed and has the enough power to take on smaller blockers. He has very good body control and excellent hip snap. The thing I like is the way he can squeeze through the tiniest of creases to get into the backfield. He uses his arm-over moves with good quickness and rips well (has to work on his club move). He keeps himself lean to gain leverage and he excels at pressuring the quarterback. He can turn the corner and shows good counter moves to come underneath and make the play.

His lower body strength lets him push the pocket and he displays good urgency to get to the quarterback. He plays with an intense effort and likes to hit the passer, as he takes good angles to get penetration, using his hands well to counter, rip and spin off offensive tackles. He has enough strength to pull and jerk tight ends and lead blockers, but it is his up field speed, along with effective counter moves that allows him to have success on the quarterback pressure. While he demonstrates a decent first step, he still must deliver his club moves with more consistency to finish off his up field charge.

Closing on the Quarterback...Hubbard shows good acceleration out of his stance to blow past the offensive tackle. He’s quicker than his timed speed indicates when working off the edge and even better on stunts. His ability to chase and stalk the quarterback from the back side has resulted in him posting seventeen sacks, despite sharing his position with others each of his three varsity seasons.

What you get from Hubbard is a player that has a strong desire to get to the quarterback, showing that extra surge needed to “close the deal,” even though he lacks explosive speed. He uses his initial step to flush out and close on the passes, taking dead aim on the pocket. his sack totals are impressive, as he showed tenacity in the trenches, even though he had better success when roaming the field. Until he develops better power and hand usage, an NFL team might be better off relieving him of run containment duties and let him roam the field. Despite his poor 40-yard time during Pro Day, he demonstrates on film that he had more than enough burst to close the deal coming off the twist or when he freed himself up on the pass rush.

Instincts/Recognition...Hubbard has a good feel to read and locate the ball. He is best when he reacts quickly, as he sometimes looks a little mechanical when he plans his moves. He can be fooled by fakes and play action, but he shows the ability to flow to the ball with no hesitation. He performs better on the move than when having to read and react due to strength and hand usage issues, but he has a good feel for blocks, knowing where they are coming from and what he needs to do to avoid. He struggled earlier in his career when the coaches refused to let him roam the field, losing more than a handful of one-on-one battles, as he did not have the great bulk to take on the bigger linemen. With his feel on the pass rush, it was not until later in the 2017 schedule that the staff relented and let him use his natural instincts to get to the quarterback.

Compares To...Chris Long...Philadelphia Eagles... Hubbard has valid quickness to get to the football. He is the type of player who shows up on every snap and plays with tough aggression. He has fluid change of direction skills - evident by his shuttle drill numbers at the Combine - and a quick first step that allows him to surprise a lethargic offensive lineman. His flexibility and balance allow him to change direction without having to take false steps. He also displays good knee bend, hip flip and balance to stay up on his feet. Hubbard demonstrates the acceleration needed in backside pursuit to close on the pocket in a hurry, as he makes most of his plays on the move, thanks to an above average closing burst.

Arden Key - LoSU

The key for Arden is returning to 2016 season form.

Overview...After a 2016 season that saw Key receive considerable chatter prior to the 2017 as an early first round prospect, everything that could go wrong, did go wrong. He played at 238 pounds during that breakout year, but shocked the staff when he arrived for 2017 fall drills at well over 275 pounds, shedding ten pounds before the coaches would even let him on the field. Key’s weight issue and the fact that he was recovering from shoulder surgery would limit him to eight games in 2017.

Might NFL execs be concerned? Well, the injury played a bit of a factor, but one NFC scouting director stated at the Combine, “You come back to the old question of what will a player do with more time and more money as a pro? Key’s background tells you it could be a big problem for him. Not only that, but he had seven sacks over the last two years where he didn’t have to beat the tackle.”

Further complicating Key’s draft situation is the fact that he declined to run or lift at the 2018 NFL Scouting Combine. He did run during LSU’s Pro Day, but at 238 pounds, a 4.85 clocking is certain not to impress scouts and coaches as they formulate their draft decisions.

Key Scouting Report

Body Structure...Key has a developing frame that was hampered when he played out of shape (275) in 2017, but he has good bone structure and an adequate wing span. He has large hands, but just adequate quickness. He has better playing strength than that in the weight room, showing better good upper body tone and thickness than in his adequate lower frame. He has a good bubble, but slim thighs and calves.

Athletic Ability...Key is surprisingly strong for a player with his frame. He has good height and big hands to lock on and drag the ball carriers down. He needs to use his arms better when fending off blockers before they can get into his chest area to lock on and control. He is an inconsistent edge rusher who will flash explosion for several plays, then, the only way you might find him is if you put out an APB (disappears for long stretches). He has all the tools to be a solid situational player, but you have to question if he has the body to withstand NFL punishment working in-line and may be better suited as a situational pass rusher, as I don’t feel he has the foot speed to make the conversion to linebacker. He shows decent straight-line speed, but struggles when having to change direction (tight hips). He also has to protect his body better when fending off blockers, as he gets stonewalled too much when trying to work through trash.

Football Sense...Key has decent field vision, but despite 21.0 sacks, he is better served waiting for the action to come to him rather than pursue it. He gets bounced around quite a bit with inside gap penetration, as he fails to use his arms to protect his legs. He learns football well, but you wonder why he is slow to react to the play, at times (laziness?).

Explosion/Pursuit...Key has adequate quickness off the snap, but not enough to surprise a lethargic offensive tackle. He gets initial advantage due to his reach and hand placement, as he is quite effective at using those tools to get a push off the blocker. He has a better straight-line burst than most Southeastern Conference edge rushers, but lacks the timed sped to give chase going long distances. He shows a decent arm-over move, but just does not have the suddenness off the snap to gain advantage.

Strength at the Point of Attack...Key might get flattened by bigger blockers when he exposes his chest or fails to use his hands, but when he capitalizes on short punch and big hands, he has no problems getting off the hook or reach block. When he gets too tall in his stance, it invites linemen to get under him to blow him off the ball. He has the functional strength to play with bent knees and when he stays low in his pads, he can jolt blockers backwards with his hand usage and bull rush. He has the quick hands to defeat the blocker with a good swim move, but lacks the lower body strength drive through the plays when the offensive tackle gets in his way. He will get too high working in-line and is not the type of player that will consistently hunker down. He fails to generate much action vs. double teams due to his marginal leg strength.

Use of Hands...This is one of his better assets, as Key has “big mitts” (10-inches) and a great wing span (82 1/8-inches) and reach (33 1/2-inch arm length) for a player his size. He extends them quickly and has effective rip and club moves to slide off pass protectors. His strong upper body helps him get off blocks. He has enough hand usage to set up his arm-over moves, using his hands with leverage vs. the run. If he gets in the first hit, his hands are strong enough to control and shed blocks.

Lateral Pursuit/Effort...Despite decent shuttle numbers at the Combine, Key lacks the fluid lateral movement and hip wiggle to change direction, as he is too methodical gaining acceleration sliding down the line. He does not generate the sharp initial burst off the snap nor the speed to pursue long distances. Even when he is able to get a good angle to free up, he is not going to suddenly burst after the ball carrier in pursuit (4.85 timing in the 40-yard dash).

Tackling Ability...Key has good upper body strength, but just marginal-to-adequate leg drive. He is not the type that will drive the blocker back on his heels, but does a good job to wrap up and secure when tackling on the edge. He has to have a clear shot at the target when working in space, as he looks stiff in his retreat. He gets good production when he does not leave his feet and uses his big hands to secure.

Run Defense...Key is not stout enough to fight through the gap (just five tackles for loss on running plays through 31 games), as he tends to get very high and narrow based. He has lots of trouble fighting pressure and holding his ground when he fails to sink his pads and can be walked off the line by a more physical offensive tackle. He is better when operating on the edge than inside, but he does not have the speed to chase down plays at the opposite end of the field. He needs to stay square when attacking the ball carrier, as the runner can slip off his hits when the defender reverts to taking a side, as he does not have the arm length to extend and drag down.

Pass Rush...Key is not a big “move” guy, thanks to marginal lateral quickness, but can generate some burst when coming off the edge. When he stays down in his pads, he has good success moving the blocker out. He is also quite effective when using his arm-over move to gain advantage. He gets knocked around at the line of scrimmage vs. double teams, but when he has a clear path, he will get to the passer. He needs to develop better counter moves to go with his effective rip and swim moves, as he can not compensate with that short reach of his.

Closing on the Quarterback...Once he clears the line, Key has a functional burst to get to the quarterback. He is better working on stunts or turning the corner than when trying to battle the tackles one-on-one, as he does not have the bulk to maintain position, nor the reach to stave off a strong hand punch from an offensive lineman.

Instincts/Recognition...Key has a good feel for block pressure. He can locate once he breaks free in back side pursuit. He just does not seem natural or instinctive working down the line and he gets into trouble taking on bigger interior blockers in double team situations, but does a better job working back and holding ground vs. the tight ends. If he gets a good jump off the snap, he can slant and escape, but when he fails to come off the snap with suddenness, the offensive linemen easily contain him.

Compares To...Aldon Smith-ex-Oakland Raiders...Key might be limited to obvious pass rushing situations at the next level. His body is similar to Smith’s, but he does possess more athletic upside, but the added weight and off-field issues. He doesn’t have an effective counter move yet, and is a liability vs. the run, at this time. One other issue that is similar with these two athletes is off-field issues and Key will have to be monitored due to past alcohol-related issues.

Da’Shawn Hand - Alabama

Anywhere Nick Saban needed a helping hand, this Tide performer filled the need.

Overview...While he never achieved the lofty expectations recruiters had for Hand, he was still a very valuable performer for Nick Saban’s shuttle system for keeping fresh bodies on the field. While his numbers are not impressive for a 41-game college career - 71 tackles, 10 sacks and 15.5 stops behind the line of scrimmage - his head coach will tell you that there have been no regrets having the Woodbrige, Va. native as part of the rotation.

Hand Scouting Report

Body Structure...Hand has a big build, with a solid midsection, wide waist and hips, broad shoulders, big bubble, muscular calves and thick thighs. He does have good speed, but he needs to get better stamina, as he runs out of gas late in games. If he is to be utilized as a defensive end, he might be better served losing about ten pounds, so he can generate better change of direction agility. If he is to perform as a defensive tackle, his frame might be better suited to add bulk than drop it.

Athletic Ability... Hand has the balance and agility to shoot the gaps and make plays in the backfield, showing good lateral pursuit ability. He is a strong wrap-up tackler who is still working on developing better hand usage, but he compensates with excellent playing strength. He is an athletic in-line pass rusher who plays a variety of positions. He will generally line up as a left defensive tackle, but has seen action at both end positions. He can even stand up and come off the edge at times when asked to blitz. He is also used to cover the running back in the second level, but lacks the foot speed to be effective doing that. When he is used as a drop end, he shows good awareness. He can make plays working down the line, but lacks overall hand usage

Football Sense... Hand picks things up quickly, evident by his ability to play any position on the front wall. He has decent instincts, but needs to play with better consistency, as he will disappear for stretches. He appears to have the ability to read and react to the play in front of him. He shows strength in his anchor vs. double teams, but there are stretches in games where his face should be plastered on a milk carton. He picks things up quickly in practice and then performs them well in the game.

It is not as if Hand is not competitive, as he does show good urgency closing when he locates the ball, but his motor runs hot and cold. Perhaps due to stamina issues, he does disappear for stretches. When the “light goes on” upstairs, he can completely dominate a game, but he really never put it all together until the second half of his senior season. He needs to show more consistency, as he does get washed out when he leaves his chest exposed (usually happens when he tires late in games) and does tend to play at a high pad level, needing to do a better job of sinking his pads.

Explosion/Pursuit...Hand has adequate explosion off the line of scrimmage to cause trouble in the backfield, but can be inconsistent. He flashes good quickness working in-line and has enough strength to win the battle at the point of attack. Offensive tackles generally have their work cut out for them, as Hand can be explosive when he stays low in his pads, but late in games, he seems to have stamina issues. Even when he plays at full speed, he might lack the suddenness to play on the edge. He does a much better job of getting to the quarterback shooting the gaps than when having to loop around the corner.

Strength at the Point of Attack...At his primary position, defensive tackle, Hand might lack ideal bulk, but he has a developing frame to add the necessary pounds to play inside. He has the long arms and the strength to control his side of the football, can hold ground at the point of attack and clog rush lanes, when he does not play high in his stance. He shows good ability to stymie double teams, with a strong base to anchor. When he gets too high in his stance, he will yield ground, though. He will generally play with leverage, but gets frustrated when his initial move fails (will give up and get absorbed by the offensive tackles). When he recovers off blocks, he can be very disruptive.

Use of Hands...While Hand has good hand strength, he sometimes fails to recoil and reset quickly, causing him to get tied up too long. He is best when using his hands to contain rather than shed. He leaves himself exposed quite a bit, giving up body surface coming off the snap. His best hand move is his swim move to slip past blocks on the pass rush.

Lateral Pursuit/Effort...Hand has the ability to slide down the line and make plays at the Xs. He has the balance and change of direction agility to work back to the cutback lanes, but is better playing between the tackles that trying to get out and make plays along the sidelines. He shows good lateral movement down the line of scrimmage and is effective chasing from the backside. He was inconsistent in this area for most of his career, but showed great improvement the second half of the 2017 campaign. His problem arises late in games when he has his usual shutdown of his motor.

Tackling Ability...Hand is a strong tackler delivers a solid block to blockers with his hand swipes. He is an effective short area hitter who delivers a punishing blow and shows power making the wrap-up tackle. When he hits a ball carrier or quarterback, he does it with force and you can hear the impact.

Run Defense...Hand needs to use his hand punch more often and must do a better job of keeping those hands inside his frame. He has the upper body strength to impact a ball carrier with a good thud. He will drop his hands quite a bit, which lets blockers get into his chest. This is an area that I feel will see him be a better fit at tackle in a 4-3 defense or align outside as an end in a 3-4 formation. He plays at a high pad level, using his strength effectively to push the blockers back through the rush lanes. He has the short area burst to string plays wide. When he stays at a good pad level, it makes it very difficult for defenders to move him off his anchor.

Pass Rush...Hand is not a consistent pass rusher, but during his senior year, he finally started using his hands better, developing better bull rush skills. He might be better served as a tackle, as he does a good job of working on the offensive guard’s edge. He has that short burst needed to penetrate, but until the second half of the 2017 season, it was too inconsistent. The light might be finally coming on here.

Closing on the Quarterback...In the short area (shooting the gaps at tackle), Hand has a good burst to close and can accelerate in the backfield, but usually does this best vs. a stationary blocker. He does not have the suddenness or blazing speed to take a wide loop coming off the edge and still seal the deal on the quarterback, making him a better fit inside than at end. What he excels at is getting his big body in the passer’s face and using his reach, wingspan and leaping ability to deflect quite a few passes at the liner of scrimmage.

Instincts/Recognition...Hand is athletic, using his size and speed to close down the backside with the strength to control. He is not the type that can explode off the edge and get into backfield to push the pocket as an end, but lining up inside, he plays with better leverage. He has the ability to locate the ball once he gets free from his initial blocker. He is better at the line of scrimmage than when on the move in attempts to locate the ball. He wins the initial battles, but sometimes will shut down when his first move fails.

Compares To...Allen Bailey-Kansas City Chiefs...Hand won’t turn heads with flashy athleticism, but does have imposing strength and a good build. He generally lined up as a left defensive tackle, but has seen action at both end positions. I see Hand more as a 3-4 defensive end rather than an edge rusher in a 4-3 alignment.

Ogbonnia Okoronkwo - Oklahoma

Finding the right position for this Sooner will be key to his draft stock.

Body Structure...Okoronkwo has a well-built, muscular frame with a tight waist and hips, long arms, good bubble, thick thighs and room on his frame for additional growth, if he is to stay at defensive end.

Athletic Ability...Okoronkwo has the sudden burst and straight-line speed to be an impact edge rusher at the next level, but seems to have hip stiffness, looking sluggish when having to change direction and work down the line (see 20-yard shuttle/three cone times), which could make a move to linebacker difficult, as he will need to drop back in pass coverage often and does not seem to have the ability to do so. He runs easily into the backfield and is quick to accelerate when he sees a chance to get to the quarterback. He is an explosive athlete that has all tools you look for in an edge rusher (excellent speed, sudden burst). He generates an explosive first step and and is very active using his hands to defeat the bigger blockers with good cross over action. He lacks fluid hip flexibility and movement coming off the snap, but has good strength and knee bend. He does tend to get a bit high in his stance when on the move. He is effective extending his long arms to keep blockers off his chest.

Football Sense...Okoronkwo has a good feel for backfield movement and is quick to react to plays in front of him. He is the type that can take what he has learned from the playbook and use it on the field. He is a smart, instinctive player who does everything the coaches ask and more. He is reliable, works hard in the weight room and a self-starter. He does get a bit reckless in his play, leading to a few costly penalties and needs to do a better job of anticipating the snap cadence.

Explosion/Pursuit...Okoronkwo has sudden quickness off the ball and does a very good job of getting on the edge and keeping advantage. He is sudden coming out of his stance and has a good feel for knowing when to burst. He has above average instincts coming off the snap, having the ability needed to fly past offensive tackles coming off the edge. He shows no hesitation getting to top speed when moving up field. Even when he gets engulfed by the larger blockers, he will fight hard to escape and has the hand usage to get the offensive tackles up on their heels and off-balance.

Strength at the Point of Attack...Okoronkwo has good, but not great field strength to consistently split tackle. He shows very good ability to knife through the gaps. He just lacks the body mass and brute upper body strength to be an every down first level defender. He has just adequate hip roll, but plays with leverage when he uses his hands to work the blocker (keeps his arms extended and can squeeze the lane). He struggles to disengage when working in-line, but has the speed to defeat tackles coming off the edge. He plays stout, but when working around the pile, he does not have the bulk to prevent the bigger blockers from absorbing him. Even with his strength and long arms, if a blocker gets into his chest, Okoronkwo will fail to shed (has good crossover moves, but has to get the blocker up on their heels to be effective).

Use of Hands...Okoronkwo has very good natural hand usage, as he constantly keeps working a blocker and because of this, he is able to compete vs. bigger opponents with leverage, combined with his quick feet and hands. His pad level can get high at times, but he has a very good punch and extention to defeat the blocks. He uses his hands well with good placement, but does struggle to shed and escape at times, especially when working in-line. He has very good rip and pull moves and is very active with his hands when attempting to separate vs. the blockers on running plays.

Lateral Pursuit/Effort...Okoronkwo has just adequate lateral agility, as he tends to be high in slants and at times gets washed out when a blocker is able to lock on. He has the functional lateral range to avoid blockers, but just seems to struggle when he has to suddenly redirect or drop back in pass coverage (usually taken out on obvious pass plays). He has outstanding closing speed to chase and move through traffic. He plays with very good effort, especially when closing from the back side.

Tackling Ability...Okoronkwo is a physical backside tackler with enough strength to jolt on contact. He shows solid wrap-up tackling technique and drives hard into the ball carrier, rarely softening in his approach. He plays with great intensity and does not want the ball carrier or quarter-back to get away. He has enough agility needed to adjust and finish the play when working in space, but appears to be too stiff in his hips for a possible move to the linebacker unit.

Run Defense...Okoronkwo shows strength to hold his ground, but is better working off the edge, as he struggles at times vs. blockers lined up over his head. He plays with good leverage, but will struggle at the point of attack, as he lacks the bulk and lower leg drive to prevent the much bigger blockers from pushing him back. His excellent speed helps him string plays wide and he does play with good leverage.

Pass Rush...Okoronkwo comes off the snap with a sudden first step. He shows very good dip and body lean on the edge and has the burst to get by a lethargic blocker in an instant. He is very active using his hands and is constantly running his feet. His spin move is very fluid and he can squeeze through tight areas, but must do a better job of protecting his feet from low blocks. His knee bend allows him to redirect and dip under blocks in his back side pursuit. His best asset is when he comes off the edge to collapse the pocket. His quickness allows him to run past offensive tackles to make the play behind the line of scrimmage.

Closing on the Quarterback...This is where Okoronkwo’s closing speed comes into play, as he shows a good burst and an array of finishing moves. He does not hesitate in his pursuit of the quarterback (some call him relentless) and he has a great short area burst to close coming off the edge. His lateral agility is adequate, but he quickly works down the line of scrimmage. The strange thing is his lack of QB pressures, though.

Instincts/Recognition...Okoronkwo is an explosive athlete with good tools and skills to be an elite NFL edge rusher. He might be limited playing every down in the NFL due to size limitations, but he has the speed and ball recognition skills that might see him perform much better on the edge than as an outside linebacker. He is quick to locate and track the ball and has the burst needed to quickly reach the play. He is a smart player who won’t bite on misdirection or play action and if he does, he won’t make the same mistake twice.

Compares To...Jordan Willis-Cincinnati...With marginal pass coverage skills, Okoronkwo will be limited to just edge rushing duties at the next level.

Breeland Speaks - Ole Miss

Speaks is a bit of an enigma, as scouts are impressed with his athletic talent, but in addition to being concerned about a lack of great production, they also need to see him mature on the field. His wild emotions led to two ejections in 2017 - for targeting vs. Kentucky and he was ejected again vs. Mississippi State for two unsportsmanlike penalties.

Body Structure...Speaks has a thick body frame with room for additional growth. He has smooth muscle development, good-sized legs and calves, big bubble and adequate arm length and shoulder width.

Athletic Ability...Speaks has the size and strength to be a dominant force in the middle of the field, but his inconsistent motor is his biggest culprit. The coaching staff claimed he was a workout demon, but based on his mediocre Pro Day and questionable Combine, it is obvious that he does not have the speed and initial quickness you look for in someone to consistently penetrate the gaps. He seems to have better success when he tilts over to play under tackle or as an undersized nose guard. He is an adequate athlete with adequate quickness off the snap, but does not have the acceleration for long pursuit. He has adequate agility to adjust on the move, but plays better in a stationary position at the point of attack. He has the functional strength to hold ground when he plays at a good pad level. He looks stiff working his way down the line, and it is rare to see him play with a high motor and good effort.

Football Sense...On the field, Speaks has just adequate instincts and an inconsistent motor. He gets excited about making a big play, which rarely occurs and is not alert to the snap cadence, generally guessing where the flow of the ball will go. He is not alert to cut blocks and while he is a force to try and move out when he plants and anchors, the low blocks will generally cause him to be neutralized. He’s struggled throughout his academic career and that brings up major concerns about his ability to grasp the mental aspect of the game. He can sometimes recognize blocking schemes, but does get fooled by play action. He also needs to learn how to keep his emotions in check, as there was an issue with flagrant fouls that led to several ejections last season. Speaks has a lot of “Warren Sapp” in him, as he will shoot from the lip, rather than let his play speak volumes for him. When his head is in the game, Speaks is a load to handle. The problem is, those plays are far and between. He plays with an inconsistent motor and while he can do a good job of tossing and shucking blockers out of his path, he lacks technique and any semblance of pass rush moves. He needs to show better urgency chasing down plays and must become more alert to cut blocks.

Explosion/Pursuit...Speaks flashes good initial quickness on ball movement and some suddenness to gain advantage. He plays with an inconsistent high motor, but has very good strength and a punishing hand punch, making him a terror to contain in the short area. While he likes to loop and twist, he is best staying in run containment, as he lacks ideal pass rush moves. He needs to stay lower in his pads, but even when he rises out of his stance, he has enough power to generate a good bull rush. He lacks sideline range and looks sluggish moving in pursuit, but does a good job of clogging the rush lanes and his first step explosion lets him get leverage and be very efficient shooting the gaps.

Strength at the Point of Attack...Speaks has above average overall strength. He is a force to be reckoned with when he plants himself in the middle of the line and is very combative with his hands. He strikes with suddenness and force, easily walking back a blocker once he gets under the opponent’s jersey.

Use of Hands...Speaks has a very strong punch. He does a good job of keeping his hands inside the framework and will dominate and shed blockers with them. Even though he can use more bulk, when he is alert to double teams, he has the ability to destroy them. He gets good leverage pushing the pocket on the bull rush.

Lateral Pursuit/Effort...Speaks has adequate lateral agility, but his feet just die when having to move long distances. He does not always use proper leverage on the move and does too much guessing coming off the snap rather than developing a feel for the flow of the ball. He has decent linear speed, but can’t move with the same efficiency when going laterally.

Tackling Ability...When Speaks brings his hands up to wrap and secure, he will generally make contact with the ball carrier. But, when he tries to take a side, runners will slip off a more than a few of his tackle attempts. He has the strength to face up strike and wrap, but needs to improve his awareness to get himself into position to make the play in the short area (fooled by play action). When he plays square at the Xs, he can stack and control with force.

Run Defense...Speaks uses his hands with force to shed blocks and impact the rush lanes. He is best served in the trenches than on the move, as he lacks the sustained speed to give good chase on the perimeter. He has a tendency to leave his feet and plays high too often, resulting to him succumbing to cut blocks. He also needs to show better knee bend in order to sink his pads better. While he had good success as a freshman, perhaps it was due to his groin injury, but double teams in 2008 gave him fits when he tried to hold his ground.

Pass Rush...Speaks has a penchant for getting tall in his stance and needs to play with a lower center of gravity. He gets too combative with blockers at times, perhaps getting too over confident in his power, but this results in him being engaged too long to make much of a pocket impact. He needs a clean lane to get to the quarterback, as his feet are not going to get him to the passer in a hurry. He is more of a bull rusher and should be limited to three-technique work rather than be utilized on the outside, even in a 3-4 alignment.

Closing on the Quarterback...Speaks has just an adequate burst into the backfield and is not going to have much success if he has to go long distances to get to the quarterback. He guesses too much with the snap cadence and relies more on his strength to get past blockers rather than develop an array of pass rush moves to help him elude. He just does not have the valid burst needed to close.

Instincts/Recognition...Poor class room habits and slow reactions to play action and misdirection are a big concern when looking at film of Speaks. He plays with an inconsistent motor and seems to lose sight of the ball when moving laterally. He needs to play the three-tech, where his lack of play recognition will not be as exposed as it would on the edge.

Compares To...Ricky Jean-Francois...Speaks has exceptional playing strength, but has failed to live up to his lofty press clippings. He has on-field emotional issues and an overall inconsistent performance on the field. He can easily shed blocks and power through the line, but lacks focus. He runs his mouth more than Warren Sapp, which has led to several ejections due to dirty tactics. He seems to have better success when he tilts over to play under tackle or as an undersized nose guard. He is an athlete with adequate quickness off the snap, but does not have the acceleration for long pursuit. He has good agility to adjust on the move, but plays better in a stationary position at the point of attack. He has the functional strength to hold ground when he plays at a good pad level.