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Why NFL fans should watch Boston College DE Harold Landry

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Harold Landry has drawn comparisons to former first-round picks Vic Beasley and Dee Ford.

Virginia Tech v Boston College Photo by Tim Bradbury/Getty Images

Update: Landry will miss the game due to an ankle injury. But he is still one of top pass rushing prospects to get to know for next spring, so familiarizing yourself is still a good call.

It’s not often that Boston College has premier NFL draft prospects. The last first-round pick was more than five years ago when the Carolina Panthers took Luke Kuechly at No. 9 overall in 2012.

But Harold Landry has a strong chance at ending that streak for Boston College players and becoming one of the first pass rushers off the board in the 2018 NFL draft.

Eight games into the 2017 season, he has 8.5 tackles for loss and five sacks. That’s nothing close to the 16.5 sacks and 22 tackles for loss he recorded in 2016, but his body of work over four years in the Eagles defense will intrigue NFL talent evaluators.

On Friday, Boston College will host Florida State in a nationally televised game on ESPN that kicks off at 8 p.m. ET. But despite back-to-back wins over Louisville and Virginia, the Eagles are still 6.5-point home underdogs.

Not having Landry is a huge disadvantage for Boston College if it wants pull the upset against the Seminoles. Here’s what makes Landry so good:

1. The Florida State offensive line might have struggled to stop him

Typically you want to watch prospects face powerhouses.

But Florida State has given up 20 sacks in six games — the seventh-highest average per game in the FBS. It’s probably the biggest reason why the Seminoles are 2-4 and need to finish the season strong to even be bowl eligible.

And that means it could’ve been Landry’s chance to shine. No player would have been more important for Florida State to stop, and no player would’ve been better positioned to lead Boston College to victory.

Boston College already played Notre Dame, Clemson, Virginia Tech and Louisville. Yes, they’ll face NC State in a couple weeks — which may be the meeting of the two best pass rushers in the nation with Bradley Chubb on the other sideline — but it’s possible Friday night will be the last primetime game for the Eagles this year.

It’s a shame we won’t get to see Landry out there.

2. Landry is determined to be a first-round pick

After his huge 2016 season, Landry took a long, hard look at the possibility of entering the draft early. But after hearing that he belonged in the second- or third-round conversation, he decided to come back for one more year.

The Boston Globe detailed his reasoning and mindset heading into 2017:

“I feel like I’m in the NFL already,” Landry said. “I feel like in the NFL, guys are out there battling like that’s their life. Like that’s how they feed their family.

“And to be honest, that’s how I’m going to feed my family, is through football right now. So I’ve got to make sure that I produce on a daily basis so I can set my family up in the best way possible.”

His fiancée supported him fully.

“He can do it, definitely,” Rios-Roberts said. “And when those draft grades were coming out last year, he was like, ‘I know I can do so much better.’ So he felt if he stayed that extra year, ultimately, in the long run, our future would be better.”

With just a few more games and a potential bowl game left to prove his abilities on the field, you better believe Landry will be bringing it.

3. Landry has the athletic profile of an elite rusher

While Landry opted to return to Boston College after hearing his draft grade, Daniel Jeremiah of NFL.com wrote over the summer that he would’ve taken the pass rusher early.

“I was surprised Landry elected to return to Boston College for his senior season, and I'll be even more surprised if he's not a top-10 pick in the spring,” Jeremiah wrote.

Landry’s biggest strength is his ability to bend and turn the corner around offensive tackles to put himself on a path to the quarterback:

Jeremiah compared Landry to Vic Beasley and Dee Ford, a pair of former first-round picks for the Falcons and Chiefs, respectively, who each notched double-digit sack totals in 2016.

For fans of NFL teams in need of an edge rusher — and that’s most of the league — you’ll want to watch Landry at work at some point, even if it didn’t come Friday night.