The Jacksonville Jaguars will be looking for a pass rusher in the 2014 NFL Draft and one of those players could be Auburn defensive end Dee Ford, who the Jaguars got a first-hand look at. Ford was coached by the Jaguars in the Senior Bowl, at which they were able to throw him at the LEO position and get a look.
Ford ended his Auburn career with 20.5 sacks and 27.5 tackles for loss. He measured in at the Senior Bowl at 6'2", 245 pounds with a 77"+ wingspan. He fits the mold of what we believe a LEO looks like and possess the type of physical ability we believe the team looks for.
Where Dee Ford Wins
The first area that stands out with Dee Ford is his explosion off the snap. His first step is extremely quick and this allows him to get offensive tackles into a reactionary position almost immediately off the snap, especially when he rushes the edge.
Ford also exhibits the bend and dip NFL teams look for in edge rushers. When he comes off the edge he fluidly gets low to the ground and can dip under the offensive lineman to turn the corner and get to the quarterback.
He also has long arms, which is something we believe the Jaguars look for, and uses that length to functionally create space and get off blocks when rushing the passer. Ford also appears to know how to convert his speed to power and get offensive lineman on their heels and walk them into the backfield.
Where Dee Ford Needs To Improve
Ford's size is going to concern some teams and will likely have him viewed as a 3-4 outside linebacker by most, but he actually fits the bill of a LEO end for the Jaguars nicely, which is a bit of a hybrid outside linebacker and defensive end.
Ford can struggle holding the point of attack in the running game and isn't going to set the edge for you as a traditional 4-3 defensive end, which is part of the reason why some teams will view him as 3-4 outside linebacker.
While he has shown fluidity in space, taking reps both with his hand on the ground and standing up, he's mediocre at best dropping into coverage and will need to improve in that area, even if he's asked just to play short and flat zones.
While Ford uses his hands well, against more athletic offensive tackles he can struggle to counter inside and get stalled in his tracks. He doesn't have a wide array of pass rush moves quite yet, but that's to be expected with most college pass rushers who rely on their speed more often than not.
Ford is an explosive undersized pass rusher off the edge who can struggle with stronger offensive tackles, especially in the run game, but he fits what we believe the Jaguars will be looking for in the LEO position almost to a "T". He should be a player who can contribute right away on passing downs and in the rotation rushing the passer standing up or with his hand in the dirt.
Grade: 6.3 - Second rounder