Pass Rusher Profile: Vic Beasley
Our Pass Rusher Profile series gives you a deeper insight into the repertoire of pass rushers in the NFL. When and where do they excel? How do they win against opposing blockers? It’s a level of insight that we are proud to bring you and for the first time this season, with our college data in hand, we can give you a similar snapshot of this year’s rookie pass rushers before they play a down in the NFL.
Now college production is by no means a guarantee of NFL production but this data can still give a glimpse into the pass rusher that the player was in college. How developed are they are as a pass rusher, do they win only to one side of a blocker or can they win in multiple ways? Do they boost their pressure production with plays in pursuit or do they just win on their first move? All this data and more is going to be available to you this week for the first time as we take a look at the rookie edge defenders taken in the first two rounds of this year’s draft.
The second edge defender off the board this season is our first player in the spotlight with Dante Fowler’s unfortunate injury in minicamp wiping out his rookie season before it began. The former Clemson Tiger will be charged with giving the Falcons’ anemic pass rush a boost in 2015 under new head coach Dan Quinn. His pass rush grade was our fourth-highest among draft-eligible edge defenders as he collected 40 pressures on only 300 rushes.
A speed rusher, Beasley’s profile is of a player who was able to win to the outside but also one of a player who will have to prove that he can win in more ways if he is to fit the billing of a Top-10 pick. More than two-thirds of Beasley’s pressures came to the outside of opposing pass protectors and in the NFL only two edge defenders who recorded more than 30 pressures last season (Elvis Dumervil and Lamarr Houston) recorded even more than 50% of their pressure just to the outside of opposing blockers. Beasley showed glimpses in his final season at Clemson and, with seven of his pressures that beat pass protectors inside turning into sacks, he has shown he can convert countering off of his blistering outside moves, but he will need to do that more consistently at the pro level.
Strangely for a speed rusher, Beasley was under productive on third downs, his production peaking on first and second downs. Rushing the passer 103 times on third downs Beasley did record three sacks but only nine other hurries… and that trend is all the more puzzling by his relative lack of production in 3rd-and-extra long situations where he netted a mere five pressures on 46 pass rushes.
A similar trend can be seen by quarter with Beasley’s production peaking before half time. This can partly be explained by lower playing time in the second half of games but even considering that, Beasley’s production on a per-rush basis is far lower in the second half than his production in the second quarter, in particular. If this is a matter of conditioning, the Falcons will need him to buck this trend if they are able to establish leads in games on the arm of Matt Ryan and then set Beasley loose to try and hold those leads.
What will be reassuring, however, is Beasley’s ability to be productive rushing against all depths of dropbacks. Though he is most productive against seven-step drops (as you would expect), Beasley also racked up 20 pressures against five-step drops and two sacks even against three-step drops. Combine this with an ability to threaten both quick release passes and longer holds and you can see Beasley’s raw potential to contribute to the Falcons’ pass rush immediately.
The big question for Beasley to answer is whether he can prove that he can win more consistently by countering off of his outside speed. His reliance on it is unlikely to translate into consistent success in the pros, he needs to turn those glimpses from the college ranks into consistent production in the NFL.
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