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This year’s draft is full of pass rushers.  Outside of the top six of Vic Beasley, Shane Ray, Dante Fowler, Bud Dupree, Randy Gregory, and Leonard Williams, there is a lot of debate who should be eliharoldnext.  One of the names that get mentioned is Virginia’s Eli Harold.  He is a bit undersized for a typical defensive end role, but has some good tape out there.  I reviewed five of his games against UCLA, Louisville, Pittsburgh, Miami, and Maryland to get a better idea of what he can bring to the NFL.  Here is what I saw:

OLB/DE Eli Harold, Virginia 6’ 3” 248 lbs.

Cons: The defender does not have any specialized skills in trying to get to the quarterback.  Most pass rushers use spins, swim moves, dips, and bull rushers in some sort of concert to create separation between themselves and their blockers, not him.  Harold shoves and pushes with only a glimpse of a spin or swim move, despite having quick hands.  He tends to lunge and get off-balance, which makes it easier to get him on the ground or out of the way.  Too many times the defender let the offensive lineman into his body which makes him easy to pass or run block against.  Harold needs to use his punch more often and anchor himself forcing the ball back inside.  He also fell for a few too many fake handoffs from UCLA’s Brent Hundley; the first time understandable, but to fall for it multiple times…

Pros: He mostly lined up on the outside shoulder of the offensive tackle in a two point stance, but occasionally in a four point as well.  Harold has a quick first step with good initial penetration.  When rushing the passer, he was more successful when switching gaps with the defensive tackle, as he can get better leverage against guards and centers. When he couldn’t get to the quarterback in time, Harold gets his arms up to disrupt the passing lane and placed his mitts on a few.   The defender moves well laterally and keeps his head on a swivel finding the pigskin quickly.  Harold has a good motor and chases ball carriers down the field, still attempting to force a fumble.  He likes to maul tight ends when they are trying to block him or catch on his watch.  Although the defender doesn’t drop back into coverage much, he looks comfortable doing it.

Overall thoughts: I see Harold as more of an outside linebacker with his size and quickness.  He would be a good target for 3-4 defensive teams like Pittsburgh or Baltimore that would rush him for much of his snaps.  The outside backer needs to get better at the point of attack though.  Dynasty owners should be able to get him in the third or fourth round of your rookie drafts.

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