FAB 4. Pass Rushers Worth Watching At East-West Shrine Game
There will be plenty of pass rushers for the defensive end-needy Buccaneers to scout at next week’s East-West Shrine Game. The question is, are any of them good enough to have their sack numbers translate to the NFL?
Last year’s top pass rusher at the East-West Shrine practices was Florida Atlantic defensive end Trey Hendrickson, who was a third-round pick by New Orleans. This year the roster has plenty of intriguing defensive ends, including Missouri’s Marcell Frazier, SMU’s Justin Lawler, Central Michigan’s Joe Ostman and Slippery Rock’s Marcus Martin.
Let’s start with Martin, the guy you’ve never heard of. Martin had some crazy production at the small school level, recording 15.5 sacks and 26.5 tackles for loss this year to lead the nation in Division II. He’s the all-time NCAA career sacker at any levl with 56, and he finished first at the Division II level for career tackles for loss (92.5).
Martin has a great motor and a decent burst, but at 6-1, 255 with an estimated 40-time in the 4.8 range, he’s considered to be a late-round prospect or an undrafted free agent because of his limited athleticism and the quality of competition he faced. He’ll be interesting to watch next week, but the little tape I’ve seen on him shows me he can get pushed around easy, especially in the run game.
I haven’t been terribly impressed with Lawler on film although he was one of the better pass rushers in 2017 with 9.5 sacks and has 20.5 tackles for loss in his career. I don’t think he’s a great athlete. The 6-foot-3, 265-pound Lawler is expected to run in the 4.8 range and seems to get by on hustle and bull rushes. He doesn’t have a lot of pass rushing moves, which is a concern.
Ostman is similarly built to Lawler, but seems to have more athleticism and burst off the edge. He’s also been more productive in terms of rushing the passer and making plays behind the line of scrimmage, and he also creates more takeaways. Ostman had 220 tackles, 45.5 tackles for loss and 26 sacks in his Chippewas career. He also forced eight fumbles and recovered four.
Ostman has a relentless motor and knack for getting the ball, evidenced by his five forced fumbles over the last two years. Ostman had eight sacks as a junior and finished strong with 13 sacks, and a career-high 19.5 tackles for loss. I’m curious to see what Ostman can do next week in St. Petersburg, and if he could be worth a Day 3 pick by Tampa Bay in April.
Missouri has a long history of producing pass rushing defensive linemen, such as Ziggy Hood, Aldon Smith, Sheldon Richardson, Jacquies Smith, Kony Ealy, Markus Golden, Shane Raye, and Charles Harris from last year’s draft class, among others. The key was former Mizzou defensive line guru Craig Kuligowski, who coached all of those former Tigers stars and has been with the Miami Hurricanes for the past two years. Frazier spent two years with Kuligowski, recording two sacks and a forced fumble in 2015 before his departure.
Over the last two seasons, Frazier has recorded 25 tackles for loss and 15.5 sacks in addition to seven passes defenses, two forced fumbles and a fumble recovery as a full-time starter. Licht likes defensive linemen that have a good amount of passes defensed because it is an indicator about their alertness and awareness. If a defensive lineman can’t get to the quarterback to apply a hit or a sack, knocking a pass down on third down to force a punting situation gets the job done, too. Frazier is far from being a finished product, and like most of the East West Shrine Game prospects is viewed as a Day 3 pick.
I know less about the defensive tackles in attendance at the East West Shrine Game, but I am aware that USF’s Deadrin Senat will be there and I’ll be watching him closely. I have Senat going to the Bucs in the fifth round of PewterReport.com’s initial 2018 Bucs’ 7-Round Mock Draft.
You may remember my suggestion that the Bucs should deploy a 3-4 defense in a previous SR’s Fab 5 due to the fact that the team’s pass rush is severely lacking along the defensive line and Tampa Bay’s linebacker corps is the strength of the team. I haven’t heard anything about a possible scheme change, so I’m expecting the Bucs to still run a 4-3 base defense when not in nickel situations.
Some NFL teams view Arkansas State pass rusher Ja’Von Rolland-Jones as a 3-4 outside linebacker, but at 6-foot-2, 244 pounds, the Bucs could view him as an undersized 4-3 defensive end, as he’s the same size as Noah Spence. Rolland-Jones has had back-to-back seasons with 13 sacks and 19 tackles for loss, and finished his college career with 43.5 sacks, which is half a sack shy of tying Terrell Suggs’ career FBS sack record of 44.
In his Red Wolves career, Rolland-Jones has amassed 179 tackles, 63 tackles for loss, 43.5 sacks, 10 forced fumbles, two fumble recoveries and one interception. He’s one of the few East West Shrine Game prospects that could be drafted on Day 2 in the second or third round, depending on how he fares next week and how well he performs at the NFL Scouting Combine and his pro day workout.
The PewterReport.com staff will be in St. Petersburg, Fla. next week to cover the East West Shrine Game practices, and will then travel to Mobile, Ala. to cover the NFL Draft prospects at the Senior Bowl.