Jaylon Ferguson has been an extremely productive pass rusher through his college career. He had 45 total sacks over his four years at Louisiana Tech, including 17.5 in 2018. However, college success, particularly at smaller schools, does not always translate to the NFL. So is Ferguson a big fish in a small pond or a legitimate next level prospect? Here’s what I see.
First, let’s start with his run defense. Despite having 26 tackles for a loss last season, Ferguson doesn’t impress me as a run defender. Even at 6’5, 265 lbs he lacks the strength needed to consistently hold up in the trenches. Ferguson can be driven back off the line of scrimmage as show in the video below.
Additionally, Ferguson doesn’t have the constant hand usage to get off blocks. This hurts him as both a pass rusher and a run defender. He isn’t consistently good with things like the club and rip to keep blockers out of his chest. As a rest he stays engaged with blockers too long and this allows them to run passed him as seen below.
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Pass Rushing Ability
Okay, so Ferguson isn’t a great run defender. No the biggest deal, right? After all, no one is drafting him because he can blow up the run. He’ll be drafted because of his ability to rush the passer. That’s what you expect from the NCAA all time leader in sacks. Well to quote Lee Corso, not so fast my friend.
I have significant questions about how his skills will translate to the next levels. Particularly since he isn’t completely polished with his pass rush repertoire. With that being the case, he has to have a great jump off the line of scrimmage (like a Gerald McCoy) and the ability to bend the edge.
Ferguson is again inconsistent in this area of his game. In fact, I’d say he’s consistently average more than anything. This was most obvious when Ferguson played higher levels of competition. Better offensive tackles will be able to handle his speed and shut him down in his attempt to rush the quarterback. This is show in the clip below.
I don’t want to make it sound like I hate Jaylon Ferguson. He was a great college player and he has some flashes that indicate he has potential. However, his flashes aren’t nearly consistent enough. Adding to that, he has underwhelmed against better competition.
I would be lying if I said I want to see the Bucs draft Ferguson. Even in rounds four or five, I think the Bucs could find better options at that point in the draft. Let another team buy into the greatest pass rusher in NCAA history because I don’t think he’ll translate as a very good pro.
Video clips one and three from Youtube username Michael Mckibben
Video Clip two from youtube username DeludedYinzer