One year after an athletic defensive end from a South Carolina based college went number one overall in the draft, another athletic defensive end from a South Carolina based college is trying to follow in his footsteps
Jadeveon Clowney out of South Carolina was a presumed number one overall pick from the day he stepped foot on a college campus, but Clemson's Vic Beasley is only a presumed first rounder at this stage. Dane Brugler, of CBS, recently had Beasley going 13th overall in his 2015 mock draft.
Beasley's first appearance of the season will come on Saturday against Georgia.
In their matchup last season, the 22-year-old put on a phenomenal display as he consistently got the better of senior left tackle Kenarious Gates. Gates couldn't handle Beasley's athleticism and now that he is graduated, John Theus is expected to take on that challenge this weekend. Theus played right tackle for Georgia last season, but the former five star prospect struggled.
Theus is a big body, listed at 6'6” and 313 lbs on the team's official website, but it's his quickness and balance that will need to be impressive if he is to contain Beasley.
Beasley's burst off the line at the snap is one of his greatest strengths. He is routinely the quickest to react to the snap and the furthest downfield amongst all of the defensive linemen on the field with his first step. On the above play, the arrows show that Beasley is already in position to attack the left tackle before the defensive end on the opposite side has even crossed the line of scrimmage.
This kind of speed puts an emphasis on the footwork of the offensive lineman. On this play, it's already clear that the left tackle is in trouble because his feet weren't quick enough at the snap. He doesn't effectively backpedal as his left foot never drops far enough away from the line of scrimmage to keep his body in between he and the quarterback.
Because his footwork was exposed at the start of the play, the left tackle is immediately put in a position where he must desperately try to recover. This means he loses all discipline in his technique. His shoulders become parallel with the sideline, while his feet are no longer backpedalling but rather turning to sprint towards his own endzone.
This is an awful position for a tackle to be put in because he overcompensates to try and stop the speed rush, giving up a wide lane to the inside. Beasley is able to punch him in the chest with his arms to knock him backwards, freeing the defensive end to run at the quarterback. If the quarterback hadn't got rid of the ball quickly on a throw to the flat, Beasley would have had a sack.
Gates was incapable of reacting to Beasley's speed at the snap during this matchup last year. That allowed the pass rusher to build pressure in different ways.
After that play, Beasley was able to dip underneath Gates while using his speed to penetrate the pocket past his outside shoulder before running right over the left tackle with his bull rush. Beasley routinely showed off excellent balance and good hand usage to get the better of the athletically inferior opponent.
Beasley was able to consistently get the better of those trying to block him because of his superior athleticism. His speed, fluidity and balance are very tough for college offensive linemen to match up to in space, while he has enough strength to beat your average starter at the college level on a regular basis. In short, Beasley is a physical specimen.
He is listed at 6'3” and 235 pounds, while carrying a lean, athletic body on the field. Beasley will likely need to bulk up a bit when he gets to the NFL, but at the college level his length and overall athleticism stands out.
That length and athleticism helped him to 13 sacks during the 2013 college football season. Those 13 sacks were good enough for the third most in the FBS. In the 13 games he played, Beasley had at least one sack eight times. Crucially, on one of the occasions he was shut out, he faced Morgan Moses, an impressive athlete who went on to become a third round pick in the 2014 NFL draft.
Moses, and the Virginia offense as a whole, put Beasley in the kind of situation that an NFL defensive linemen often finds himself in.
While being used to having an immediate advantage at the snap on pass rush attempts, Moses was able to negate Beasley's initial burst at the snap with his own quick feet. While he wasn't able to consistently shut Beasley down in fair competitions, he was able to comfortably establish a base beneath him after dropping into his stance at the snap.
This meant that Moses wasn't overplaying the speed rush and he was always in a good initial position to slow the defensive end down.