clock menu more-arrow no yes

Filed under:

Could Rashan Gary Take The Redskins’ Defensive Line To An Elite Level?

New, comments

Hogs Haven takes a look at 2019 NFL Draft prospects that could contribute to the Redskins

NCAA Football: Western Michigan at Michigan Rick Osentoski-USA TODAY Sports

Rashan Gary, DE/DT
School: Michigan | Conference: Big-10
College Experience: Junior | Age: 21
Height / Weight: 6-4 / 277 lbs
Projected Draft Status: Top-10
NFL Comparison: Julius Peppers (ceiling), Robert Nkemdiche (floor)

College Statistics

Additionally, here are some advanced stats, courtesy of Pro Football Focus.

Player Overview

The #1 HS prospect in the nation, Gary was just the third player ever to be named the top HS player in the country unanimously by all four major recruiting networks.

As a true freshman, Gary immediately became a part of a rotation on a defensive line consisting of Taco Charlton, Chris Wormley, Ryan Glasgow, Maurice Hurst, and Chase Winovich. He became a starter, and had his best season in 2017, fueling top-five buzz over the summer. Gary suffered a shoulder injury in preseason camp and played through it for the first three games of the 2018 season. He ended up missing three full games and parts of others while playing at less than 100-percent before declaring for the draft bypassing his senior season.

Gary has started up his own sports agency in Rashan Gary Sports. His mother, Jennifer Coney-Shepherd, is president of the agency.

Athletic Traits

Gary topped college football guru Bruce Feldman’s annual “freaks” list last summer, then proved it at the NFL combine. Gary turned in a 4.58 40-yard dash, a 10 foot broad jump, and a 38-inch vertical jump. Gary’s physical gifts are rare enough that he was already being considered a potential #1 pick overall as a true freshman.

At 6’4, 277 pounds, Gary’s 9.9 RAS (Relative Athletic Score) is good enough to rank in top-15 as either DE or DT. That is, top-15 overall relative to EVERY combine participant since 1987 from either the defensive tackle or defensive end groups.

The Film

Here is a film room session by Voch Lombardi

Here is a film room session by NFL Draft Geek

See more of his work.

Strengths

  • An elite athlete, Gary’s testing numbers rival that of Julius Peppers, Mario Williams, Myles Garrett, and Jadeveon Clowney.
  • Strong at the point of attack, and sets the edge very well against the run.
  • Despite playing around 280 pounds, he has shown the ability to turn the corner with good ankle flexion and decent dip.
  • Offers outside/inside versatility as both a run defender and pass rusher.
  • While the odds may be small, his upside is that he could become the top player to come from this draft class.

Weaknesses

  • Still relies too heavily on sheer athleticism and talent rather than technique and fundamentals.
  • Struggled often to disengage from blockers due to poor hand usage.
  • Hasn’t developed any counter moves and lack of agility/change of direction may hinder his ability to set up an effective inside move.
  • Being late off the snap partially negates any advantage he derives from his first step quickness.
  • His bend around the edge is not on par with other edge rushers, and he might need to move inside in obvious passing situations.
  • What is his true position?
  • As a pass rusher, he needs to develop a deeper repertoire. He also gets caught too far upfield on occasion.

What Others Are Saying

Michigan defensive coordinator Don Brown - “Best I’ve ever seen combining speed, strength, change of direction, and the mental curve. He’s unbelievable. The sky is the limit.”

Lance Zierlein - “Five-star defensive end prospect coming into Michigan who leaves with those same five-star traits and loads of potential but a lack of development in key areas. Gary is a face-up rusher who seems content to hit tackles with bull-rush attempts rather than working the edges. He’s explosive out of the blocks and in closing to the quarterback, and is just waiting for hand development and additional rush moves. His size, strength and motor could make him a plus run defender in short order. He has elite potential if a defensive coordinator can harness the energy and focus his approach.”

Rob Staton - “I watched Michigan vs Notre Dame on replay specifically to focus on Rashan Gary. The former #1 overall recruit has been highly touted as a future top-10 pick but so far he’s had a fairly underwhelming college career. He looks the part for sure — he’s big, physical and explosive. However, he doesn’t make enough plays. In this game he was solid defending the edge, controlled blockers in the run game and was able to provide a level of consistent stoutness despite the high number of snaps he played. Yet as a pass rusher he was a non-factor. He had two decent rushes at the start of the second half but the Notre Dame tackles sealed off the edge and he barely troubled the QB. Even on stunts he struggled to create pressure. Gary is a fine physical talent but I’m not sure he has the quickness, variation or bull rush to compensate for a lack of great get-off/speed as an EDGE rusher.”

How Will He Fit With The Redskins?

One of the few strengths of the Redskins’ team is their talent on the defensive line. While Gary may be able to take the line to another level, they already have invested their previous two first round picks on the position.

Gary has experience at DT and DE. If he reaches his potential, he will combine the flexibility to bend the edge with the ability to hold up against the run on the inside. However, he is not there yet. Viewed as an underachiever, given the hype that proceeded his arrival at Michigan, many feel Gary will be a better pro than college player.

Regardless of scheme, I view Gary as a base DE who will get around 30% of his snaps as an interior pass rusher. His quick first step will be an asset wherever teams choose to play him.

A conservative approach by NFL teams may see some unwilling to gamble early, but it is likely someone takes the cheese, and Gary will probably be gone long before Washington picks in the first round. Even if he is there, the Redskins are likely to prioritize either quarterback, OLB, or some sort of offensive weapon. Gary is just too fascinating not to profile him.