The third edge rusher on my list is Vic Beasley of Clemson. For the purposes of this breakdown, I went over to Draft Breakdown to watch Beasley play against Georgia, Florida State, North Carolina, North Carolina State and South Carolina. Those represented the first, third, fourth, fifth and 12th games of Clemson's season.
Let me start out with this: Vic Beasley is my top edge rusher in the draft. And by the way, it ain't even close.
Yes, over Randy Gregory. Yes, over Dante Fowler Jr. Yes to anybody else you come up with.
Let me also go ahead and confirm that the Combine had an influence on my rating him that highly, but probably not in the way you think. It is true that Vic Beasley had the fastest 40 time, the most lifts on the bench press with 35 and the third highest vertical leap in his position group at 41.5 inches, which is, let's face it, fucking impressive! Thing is, if you watched Beasley play and didn't realize he was more than capable of putting up those kinds of numbers, then I'm gonna go ahead and say you probably aren't very good at this whole evaluating thang. I'm just sayin'.
The numbers from last weekend that did influence me putting Vic Beasley at the top of my list were these: 6'3 and 246 pounds. Beasley's tape is so damn good that the only questions I had were about his height and weight. Look, guys get listed as all kinds of heights in college only to get knocked down an inch or more at the Combine. Thankfully for Beasley, he was every bit of the 6'3 he was listed as in Clemson's football programs.
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Not only that, unlike Randy Gregory, Beasley took seriously that teams would want to see him at a heavier weight in the NFL and showed up 11 pounds heavier than his listed weight at Clemson. Yes, Beasley weighing in at 246 pounds might still relegate him to a role strictly as a pass rusher right now in a 4-3 defense, but he at least showed he has the ability to put on more weight in just a few months. That means getting him up to around 255 pounds or so, which is about what he would need to be to play defensive end every down in a 4-3, shouldn't be all that impossible.
Before you object, let me tell you who I see when I see Vic Beasley, and I'll bet it hits you like a ton of bricks. I played with John Abraham for a season in 2002 with the Jets. After you look at all these GIFs and videos in this breakdown, go back and watch Abraham's film again and try to tell me I'm wrong.
Well, actually let me amend that.
Vic Beasley is John Abraham with a little better pass rush technique coming out. Yeah, I said it.
What I started to do was just fill the rest of this column with GIFs of all the sacks, pressures and other impressive plays Beasley had in the five games I watched. Trust me, that list is lonnnnnnnnnng, Jack. But I decided not to short-change him like that. I have given other guys the benefit of my endorsement with words and I shouldn't hold any back on him either.
But listen, this dude's film?
This dude's film ...
It's fucking pass rushing porn.
No matter how much I lump praises on the kid, it still won't trump what I've seen him do on tape consistently.
So y'all gone still get these videos and GIFs!!!
He's got it all, the total fucking package as a pass rusher. It's been a very long time since I watched a pass rusher who made me cuss watching him play. I sounded like a damn sailor watching this kid's film.
First off, he has what you always want to see from a pass rusher -- amazing get off. I haven't seen a college kid with Beasley's kinda peeeeeeeeewwwnnnnn since ... shit, maybe Von Miller. That's actually who I was going to compare Beasley to at first, but Beasley doesn't have Von's unreal ability to bend. Then again, few do. He's like the damn plastic man. But where they do compare is the explosion with which they get off the ball.
It was hard enough for offensive tackles when they had a tight end or running back trying to help them out with a chip, but when there wasn't any help coming? You would swear there was a damn rocket pack on Beasley's back. He not only beat them out of their stance, sometimes they wouldn't even touch the guy.
His run defense technique and intensity leaves something to be desired at times, but he still used that same crazy quick get off to make plays against the run as well. I mean, if you are an offensive tackle, just how in the hell are you supposed to block a guy on a draw whom you can't catch up to, no matter what you do?
The answer, according to the game tape, is you don't!
OK, there, I said a few token words addressing the fact that Beasley is not a monster against the run, fine. I am sure some folks will unfortunately focus on that and totally miss the forest for the trees. As a 4-3 defensive end or a 3-4 outside linebacker, you definitely want a guy to do his damn job and set the edge against the run, but if that mutha can get you double-digit sacks every year, you will live with him being mediocre or better against the run, trust me!
That's what I'm predicting for Vic Beasley ... as a rookie.
That's right, not only am I going against the majority of analysts' opinions right now in naming Beasley my top edge guy, I'm also calling my shot that he touches double-digit sacks as a rookie in 2015, barring injury. And it damn sure won't be his last time, either.
Write it down, take a picture, I don't give a fuuuuuuuuck!
I can be confident about that because the second element of Beasley's pass rush skills that impressed me was his technique rushing the passer. Here is a guy who was blessed with tremendous physical gifts, but he didn't just sit back and lean on that. He had to have put in a lot of work to get his technique to the point that he displayed this season. I can't tell you how many times I've lamented the fact that college pass rushers don't finish with a rip any more. I have no idea how so many defensive line coaches across the country have dropped the ball in instilling that basic pass rush tip into their players; it truly is an epidemic these days. This guy Vic Beasley, though? That was the move he used most often.
Because when you are that damn fast, if you can execute a good dip-and-rip, you make it damn near impossible for even the best left tackles to stop you from getting around the edge. And you know what? The fact that he continued to do it over and over because it continued to work over and over also impressed the hell out of me. So many times I watch guys dominate with one move only to see them try other crap that doesn't work instead of continuing to push their base move and dare the offensive lineman to stop it.
That wasn't the only move Beasley had that was effective. He was also very proficient at swiping the left tackle's hands before they could punch him. I almost stood up and Gronk-spiked my iPad one time as I watched him execute the move not only with his hands but also simultaneously having his left foot step over his right foot so he could gain leverage on the tackle and turn the corner on him. That's some shit that we worked on every day back when I played under the best defensive line coach (now one of the best defensive coordinators) in America, Rod Marinelli. Every day, going through the bags and doing that step-over move.
I'm sure it sounds easy just reading it here, but your goofy ass would tear both ACLs trying to do it. Real talk.
That's another thing you just don't see from most of these guys coming out of college today. I damn sure didn't see it from Gregory or Fowler Jr. when I did their breakdowns.
Oh, and you know what else? This Vic Beasley kid never settled for just getting a sack. Like he expected to get sacks (although he did miss two of them in the games I watched), so when he got to the quarterback he wasn't just going to tackle him, he was also going to chop and get that damn ball out. One time, he even executed his pass rush move and chop so well that the ball came right back to him and he was able to run it back the short distance into the end zone for a touchdown.
That was against NC State, and the victim that time was a tight end. Guy was just minding his business. I'm sure he thought he was going to get help from the offensive tackle at some point because it was a play action pass. Beasley was around the corner so damn fast, the left tackle couldn't have helped even if he had turned around and sprinted back 7 yards at the snap of the football.
Beasley made light work of the tight end, turned on the jets, then just pantsed the quarterback. You know how many college guys would have screwed that play up by getting too excited? Maybe they hit the quarterback but don't go for the ball? Or maybe they get so excited that they end up missing the quarterback because they overshoot him? You just don't see guys calmly come up behind a quarterback in that situation and have the wherewithal to go for the ball rather than the big hit, then turn around and score.
I hate the word "swag" with a damn passion, but that's the kind of swagGER I love to see in a player. It's rare because cats who can perform at that high level are rare. This year, teams have a unique opportunity to draft the most polished edge rusher and the most physically gifted edge rusher #AtTheSameDamnTime. They damn sure should.
Straight up, any team that needs an edge rusher would be a damn fool to pass on Vic Beasley. I said any and I mean any. I understand that everyone can have their own personal preferences, but I'm going to put it to you this way: You can't show me a guy with better 2014 tape than Vic Beasley. You also can't show me a guy who had a better overall Combine workout than Vic Beasley. Hell, you can't even show me another highly rated edge rusher who was as productive this past season than Beasley. His 11 sacks in the regular season are almost as many sacks Gregory (7) and Fowler Jr (5.5) had in the regular season ... combined.
I forgot to mention Beasley dropped into coverage some, both as a zone dropper and in man-to-man, so he has experience at that also if you give a shit.
Take out your calculator, add all that up and the readout is gonna say you should pick Beasley.
Don't blame me, the math don't lie!
So check this out, I know right now that I'm going against the flow having Beasley top my list of edge rushers, and I'm totally fine with that. But I say let's revisit this topic the day before the draft and see if my opinion is still outside the majority.
I'm willing to bet it won't be.
Ed. note: We couldn't fit all the great Vic Beasley GIFs and videos in one post, so be sure to click these links below to see more.