NAME: Rashad Weaver
POSITION: Defensive End
WEIGHT 270 pounds
Rashad Weaver was a standout defensive end and tight end during his high school career. He attended Cooper City High School in Cooper City, Florida for high school football. Following his days there, Weaver originally committed to Michigan for football. However, when Wolverines head coach Jim Harbaugh could not guarantee him a scholarship, Weaver flipped his commitment to Pittsburgh.
After redshirting in 2016, Weaver became an instant factor in the Panthers defense in 2017. He played in nearly every game and started to show glimpses of the stops he could make in the backfield. 2018 saw Weaver put it all together, as he started all 14 games. Finishing with 14 tackles for loss and 6.5 sacks, the defensive end was only beginning to ascend. Unfortunately, he missed the entire 2019 season with a torn ACL. He came back with another productive season upon returning in 2020. He again totaled 14 tackles for loss and had 7.5 sacks in nine games. After declaring for the 2021 NFL Draft, Weaver was named both First team All-ACC and Consensus All-American for 2020.
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Weaver has a tremendous get off when rushing the passer. He appears to be more explosive when he has two hands in the dirt. As a result, you can see his hot motor and effort stand out. Weaver takes long strides during his pass rush reps. This can provide trouble in multiple ways for opposing offensive tackles. There is a lack of long speed for sure. But, his short area quickness creates plenty of havoc in tight areas of the field. Quarterbacks can become caught off guard by Weaver in a couple of different ways. First, his jump cuts used and whips around blockers allow for the pocket to collapse quickly. He is able to provide this more often, when he is rushing from wide angles. Additionally, Weaver can surprise with his straight line speed when chasing passers up the field outside of the pocket.
Obviously, Weaver’s long arms and height stand out. This has aided him in becoming more technically refined as a defender. Opposing passers must be aware of his timing to bat down passes at the line of scrimmage. If they do not, chances at turnovers increase. Quarterbacks that are aware of those instincts know they have to place passes in a direct window to keep the ball out of harm’s way. Weaver also shows off this length in run defense attempts. Being able to set the edge and clog up lanes like he does, leads to quick tackle opportunities when teammates are pursuing. This comes in handy for Weaver when going up against more patient ball carriers.
What sticks out the most for Weaver in this area, is how quickly and swiftly he can flip his hips. For a longer defender, he sure knows how to use his leverage. When turning the corner, Weaver finds a way to stick close to the ground. He recognizes when to play higher than opposing blockers when he needs to, though. He is able to cut off angles that appear open for offense’s playmakers due to his hip flexibility. The biggest question is, will Weaver be able to field that bend more naturally and more consistently? His torn ACL injury from 2019 took a bit of that away.
Read and React Ability
As we mentioned earlier, Weaver has a fair share of pass deflections at the line of scrimmage. This issue has more to do with his processing. He shows avid instincts with his eyes. However, one would like to see him keep his feet and body rolling downhill, rather than becoming stagnant. Read options gave him a good amount of trouble. And that is not just with attempting to set the edge. More importantly, Weaver will have to be able to identify where the ball is going more rapidly.
Hand To Hand Combat
Weaver can become a savvy pass rusher at times. With his prowess in jump cuts and spin moves, Weaver is able to out think blockers. Yet, he is extremely limited in hand fighting. Keeping his hands more active and continue to keep them rolling will be a large area of improvement. Weaver attempts to overpower, run through or run around opposing offensive linemen too often, rather than trying to deconstruct the blocks. Possibly, his strength and power could hide some of this.
The hustle is there, as is the effort. As we mentioned earlier, Weaver lacks long speed. Being able to pursuit and finish on extended plays are a question mark. Another big query that teams will have to figure out, is what role will he play. Weaver has the early tools needed to be a situational pass rusher. Can he become a three down lineman, however? Weaver may have to rely more on his technically sound counters and power while developing early on. Some of his natural athleticism is also still coming back into form following that ACL injury.
Even without a stellar athletic profile, Rashad Weaver has a sort of craftiness that mixes in well with power and being technically sufficient. This provides some versatility in which teams can employ him as. Even Pittsburgh took chances once in a while, to move Weaver to the inside of the defensive line. Given his length and size, a team like the Kansas City Chiefs would be perfect for him to test his skills both out on the edge and inside. They have done this at certain times with 2020 UDFA Tershawn Wharton. He has now found a home more at tackle. Nonetheless, Weaver can provide a plethora of options in obvious passing situations. He can set the edge against more mobile quarterbacks, rush the passer from wide alignments, or even bat down passes routinely.
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– Braden Holecek is the Kansas City Chiefs managing editor for Full Press Coverage. He covers the NFL. Like and follow on Follow @ebearcat9//platform.twitter.com/widgets.js Follow @FPC_Chiefs//platform.twitter.com/widgets.js and Facebook.