However, as a pass rusher he has the ability to get after the quarterback in a variety of ways off the edge. Isn’t the most natural of benders when sitting in his stance, and as he tires his butt seems to get higher and higher, but he has the first step and balance to reach the corner and at least threaten to flatten around the edge. Uses his violent hands well to chop himself free once he gains a step and loves to work the rip once he gets himself to the edge.
Also, does a nice job of working the arm over as a counter move back inside and plays with enough leverage to win as a bull rusher as well. He’s a pretty technically sound pass rusher at this stage, but he needs to do a better job of getting off the snap count more consistently. And he needs to do a better job of playing with leverage, as he can be stalled by opposing tackles when fighting his way through blocks even once he gains a step.
Impression: Isn’t quite the long, sudden athlete that Greg Romeus is, but he’s a more technically sound pass rusher who can certainly get after the quarterback in his own right. After watching him on tape, I really think the guy has the ability to mature into a solid NFL pass rusher who can reach the QB in a variety of ways and play the run."
Run Defense: Not the largest strong-side end but maintains leverage to hold the line of scrimmage. Crashes down hard on inside and short-yardage runs, lowers his pads to get leverage against approaching linemen. Tight ends have a difficult time controlling him on the edge, uses strong hands or quickness to contain on his side of the line. Works hard to stay on his feet, get off blocks to stay active and keep containment on plays run towards him.
Explosion: Is not elite in this category, but has adequate speed off the snap for his size when his ears are pinned back on the pass rush. Good pop into his man's numbers on bull rushes. Uses violent hands to knock aside blockers on run plays.
Strength: Plays stronger than his height/weight numbers indicate. Knows how to keep his pads low to get leverage on the edge against the run and bull rush his man into the pocket. Stacks his man and can disengage using violent and strong hands to move inside or outside.
Tackling: Solid, if not explosive, tackler on the edge who makes it difficult for teams to run inside or outside of him. Closes well when coming straight toward the ball, but his stiff hips do not always allow him to break down in space or change direction quickly. Good hustle-and-chase type, makes plays down the line and downfield.
Intangibles: Team leader and captain because of his work ethic and intensity. Worked through a knee injury suffered in the summer of 2009 to play every game last season. Had minor elbow surgery in December 2010 that caused him to miss the team's bowl game. Helped an elderly woman escape from her burning home and received a bravery award. Good student, majoring in forensic sciences. Arrested in July 2010 for involvement in fight; continued to punch the man after police called for him to stop and threw the man through the glass door of a business. Pled guilty to disorderly conduct (originally charged with felony aggravated assault and resisting arrest), was order to apologize, pay medical bills. He was suspended for two weeks and faced internal discipline."
Pursuit: Sheard has good quickness and the ability to close the back door down the line of scrimmage. When chasing the ball carrier, Sheard takes good angles that help him close quickly. At times, he appears to be uninterested in chasing plays away from his side of the field. It doesn't appear to be a major concern because he shows good hustle in other areas of this game but its definitely worth noting.
Run Defense: A poor power base and linear build contribute to Sheard's struggles in run defense. However, several other issues are present that impact his ability to hold up against the run. His limited power base is exaserbated by his poor hand usage. Sheard looks to avoid his blocker rather than holding strong and disengaging. This often leads to Sheard rushing up the field to often and taking himself out of the play. Where he is successful is his ability to locate the ball and use his closing burst to make a play.
Strength: Sheard doesn't play with a lot of strength and that impacts his versatility. He is thin through the hips and waste which impacts his ability to anchor through contact. He also doesn't have heavy hands that limit his ability to stack and shed.
Tackling: There is an explosiveness to Sheard's game especially when he lays devastating hit. Sheard does a good job of breaking down and rolling his hips through the ball carrier delivering a thump. He keeps his head up and is under control as he approaches the football.
Technique: Coaching his going to be a key when it comes to developing Sheard. He has the athletic ability and potential to develop into an effective pass rusher in the NFL. However, he needs to work on keeping his pad level low and using his hands to keep blockers off his frame. Improving both of those areas will have a great impact on his ability to create pressure.
Games Viewed: West Virginia, Miami, North Carolina, Utah
Final Word: Sheard is going to be a developmental player with a chance to help out on passing situations early. He is likely looking at the tweener label due to his lack of bulk and limited experience dropping into coverage. Sheard might be best suited to play the outside linebacker position. On tape, he showed good quickness, balance, and coordination which make me feel he can make the switch. However, that switch is going to take some time and coaching. NFL teams are going to look at Sheard's athleticism and production and fall in love. I wouldn't be surprised to see him go in the late 2nd round."
Sheard has a great combination of size and athleticism.
Sheard started receiving more playing time as Pittsburgh defensive ends, most specifically Greg Romeus, started missing time due to injury. Sheard didn’t look back, and claimed a defensive end spot, harassing opposing quarterbacks for 60 minutes.
Sheard is very explosive off of the ball. He jumps off the snap quite quickly, doing an excellent job with his timing. He excels in keeping contain, and utilizes his speed against slower tackles, and bullies the weaker ones with his strength. Sheard’s athleticism is second to none. He has an excellent blend of size and speed, making him an ideal fit for the 3-4 outside linebacker position. He gets a good push against the run, and moves well laterally on the defensive line. He’s excellent in pursuit and he plays with a very high motor, and a lot of aggression. He’s every coaches dream in terms of desire and aggression, and he’s a much more intelligent player than he gets credit for.
From a physical standpoint, Sheard needs to prove that he can play in space if he wants to make the outside linebacker transition. He could afford to improve his ability to make a form tackle, as well as tackle in the open field. He gets out of position when he drops in coverage, at times looking lost. He tends to wear down as the game goes on, which brings up conditioning concerns. His high motor sometimes comes back to haunt him. He lacks a true inside move, which makes him a liability in a 4-3 against the run at times, and makes him predictable on his pass rush. Some character concerns will be brought up as a red flag. In July of 2010, he was arrested on assault charges after throwing a person out of a window. He claimed that it was out of self defense, as one of his friends was jumped, but he still put himself in that situation, which is questionable.
I have Sheard higher than most, and for good reason. Sheard is undoubtedly going to be the next big pass rusher to move up high in the draft, a la Kamerion Wimbley, Jason Pierre-Paul, and Derrick Harvey. Sheard’s combine will be huge, especially if he runs the forty sub 4.65. I look for Sheard to be taken in the 18-30 range. Teams like San Diego, Kansas City, Green Bay, and Baltimore will take a big look at him, with my best guess being the Ravens at the end of the first round.
NFL Comparison: Brian Orakpo"
Positive: Athletic college edge rusher who improved his game as a senior. Breaks down well, effectively uses his hands to protect himself, and rarely gets knocked off his feet. Possesses good first-step quickness, fast off the edge, and fluid moving in every direction of the field. Deceptively strong, uses hand technique to get off blocks, and stays with the action. Displays the ability to pursue down the line and make plays out to the sidelines. Fast and effective if asked to twist or stunt.
Negative: Slow shedding blocks and can be controlled by a single opponent. Lacks great bulk and will be knocked from his angle of attack rather easily.
Analysis: Sheard has quietly been one of the better pass rushers in college football the past three seasons and is a defender who continually makes plays behind the line of scrimmage. He's displayed constant improvement on the field and should be very productive as a one-gap end at the next level."
Negatives: Can be run at... Does not get off blocks especially quick... Not real strong... Loses ground at POA... Will play too upright at times... Is not the most physically gifted athlete... Undersized, may not fit in a 4-3 defense... Best fit would be as an OLB in a 3-4... Will be a bit of a developmental project with tight hips when changing direction... Little experience dropping back into coverage... Can appear tentative as a pass rusher... Is somewhat limited in space... Will have games where he hardly has an impact in the run game... Will sometimes give up in pursuit of running plays... Will miss some tackles... Was charged with aggravated assault, resisting arrest, criminal mischief and disorderly conduct after throwing a man through a glass door during a street fight prior to the 2010 season."
Weaknesses: Not a great sell-out tackler v. the run. Gets rocked back in SY and goal-line situations. Limited to weakside 4-3 DE only, and lacks versatility. Not very physically imposing. Comes straight up out of his stance too often and provides a nice blocking target. Despite his ability to get upfield, he is not a great corner turner.
Projection: Solid late 2nd, or early-to-mid third rounder."
In 2008 he tallied 45 tackles, 10.5 tackles-for-loss and 5.5 sacks. A year later (as a junior) he totaled 42 tackles, 10.5 tackles-for-loss and 5.0 sacks. The problem was Romeus took away most of the headlines and Sheard was the unheralded complimentary player who benefited from Romeus being on the other side of the line. That changed in 2010 when Romeus went out with an injury. Sheard stepped up his game and helped turn around the defense. Through seven games he already has 30 tackles, 10.0 tackles-for-loss and 7.0 sacks.
Sheard is now considered by many as a better NFL prospect than Romeus. He is not as big, but he is just as strong and he is much more technically astute. What he may lack in pure skills, Sheard makes up for with intelligence and technique. If he keeps producing and has some decent workouts leading up to the draft, Sheard should not fall past the third round. If he physically performs better than expected, he could possibly even sneak into the first round."
Jabaal Sheard has the potential to develop into one of the top 3 Pass Rush Forces in this entire Draft Class. He has tremendous Burst, powerfull Hands, and excellent Speed.
He's not particularly good against the Run, as he's not the biggest guy in the world, but he plays good Contain.
OutStanding Processing Speed to Read and React.
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