The 2021 NFL Draft doesn’t look like its going to be a particularly great one for pass rushers. But what this class lacks in truly clean top-end talent at the EDGE position, it makes up for with a breadth of players who should at least be contributors at the NFL level.
Oregon State’s Hamilcar Rashed Jr. looked to be well on his way to a first round draft selection after a break-out junior season which saw him rack up 22.5 tackles for a loss and 14.0 sacks. Unfortunately, lingering hand and ankle injuries, as well as a 2020 season which was anything but normal, saw him take a significant step back as a senior.
Nearly every prospect’s draft stock is going to be difficult to gauge this year. Could Rashed’s down senior season make him a sleeper and potential steal?
Prospect: Hamilcar Rashed Jr.
Games Watched: vs. Hawaii (2020), vs. Stanford (2020), vs. Washington (2020)
Red Flags: Ankle, thumb (2020)
Games Played: 35
Tackles For a loss: 37.0
Forced Fumbles: 3
Passes Defensed: 6
Games Played: 7
Tackles For a loss: 2.0
Forced Fumbles: 0
Passes Defensed: 1
Best: Quickness, first step, athleticism, pass coverage
Worst: Hand technique, play strength
Projection: A situational pass rusher with eventual starting upside in the right scheme.
Hamilcar Rashed Jr. is an intriguing EDGE prospect with a good mix of size, athleticism, and versatility.
Rashed Jr. typically aligned as an EDGE in Oregon State’s defense, playing from a two, three, and four-point stance and lining up as both the left and right sides of the defensive front. Rashed also occasionally lined up as an off-ball linebacker, rushing through the interior gaps as an inside linebacker in certain blitz packages.
Rashed has a very good get-off, timing the snap well from both the left and right edges. He shows an explosive first step, quickly and smoothly reaching top speed as he attacks into the backfield. Rashed has enough size and length to routinely play against offensive linemen at the NFL, with good height and arm length as well as enough mass. His acceleration gives him the ability to play as a speed rusher at the next level, and he is generally able to maintain good-enough leverage to make power a part of his game as well.
Rashed flashes the foundations of a pass rush arsenal, using bullrushes, long arms, swipe, and club/rip moves. He also shows good lateral agility looping inside on stunts and twists. Rashed has good lower-body flexibility, allowing him to effectively bend the edge and carry speed into the backfield, as well as change direction in tight quarters when switching from rushing to pursuit.
He also shows comfort dropping into coverage in zone blitzes. Rashed gets good depth quickly as a coverage player and has good mobility once in his coverage zone.
While Rashed flashes the foundation of a solid pass rushing arsenal, it’s still only that. He is inconsistent in using his hands to keep himself clean and doesn’t seem to have a clear plan in his rushes. Likewise, he doesn’t have much in the way of a feel for counter-moves, leaving him stuck when a blocker is ready for his initial rush. Rashed has a tendency to stay blocked once a lineman gets his hands on him.
And while Rashed has enough play strength to beat tight ends and stand up offensive linemen when playing with good leverage, he can be overwhelmed if he loses that leverage.
Overall Grade: 7.3 - This prospect should be a regular contributor as a rotational player early in his career, and has the upside to challenge for a starting job in the right system with some development.
Hamilcar Rashed Jr. projects as a pass rushing specialist early in his career, but he has the potential to become an every (or most) down player in a “multiple” defense with some development.
Rashed is one of the more athletic pass rushers in this draft class, with very good quickness, agility, and speed, as well as great acceleration off the line of scrimmage. But despite being a senior, he doesn’t yet have a fully developed set of pass rushing moves or a full understanding of how to use his tools.
But even so, he was able to be productive in his sophomore and junior seasons with just his athleticism and the basics. He took a step back due to lingering injuries as a senior, but he has the chance to be a legitimate threat off the edge in the NFL if he is able to polish the technical side of his game.
Rashed’s athleticism and versatility should be appreciated by a creative coach. Not only can he play both EDGEs and from a variety of stances and alignments, his lateral agility makes him useful in stunts and twists. Likewise, he can be useful in a variety of blitz schemes by moving around the formation or dropping into coverage to disguise pressure on zone blitzes.
Rashed is not yet a finished product, but the traits he already shows should allow him to be productive early in his career if he’s put in position to play to his strengths. Whether or not he blossoms into an every-down player will depend on coaching and his own work.