Friday, May 16, 2014

Scouting The 2014 NFL Draft: Chicago Bears Selection Will Sutton

It is now round three of my look at the Bears draft. After looking at the Bears first two picks, I was less than enthused, but the third round brought a guy that had impressed me in limited looks, so I was pretty excited to take a closer look. Will Sutton is a classic 3-technique defensive tackle and will hopefully have a similar impact to healthy Henry Melton and early career Tommy Harris (although I do have dreams of Warren Sapp and Geno Atkins). Below are links to the Bears first two picks scouting reports:

Round One - Kyle Fuller - CB - Virginia Tech
Round Two - Ego Ferguson - DT - LSU

Now it is time to take a look at Arizona State's Will Sutton. If there is one thing I always want my teams to acquire, it is undervalued assets. One way that teams consistently undervalue players is when a prospect's production drops off. Will Sutton was an absolute monster in his Junior year, and his Senior year simply did not meet expectations. His numbers dropped across the board, but the good news is that he had multiple reasons for this. Like Jadeveon Clowney, offenses geared their game plans towards limiting his impact. Along with that, he gained weight to help his chances at the next level, and the weight did not suit him well. Because of those factors, I wanted to take a look at games from both years by watching his 2013 Holiday Bowl performance against Texas Tech and his 2012 performance against Oregon State.

More important than numbers on a stat sheet is the impact that he has on a team's game plan. This is a nice look at how Texas Tech minimized Sutton's impact.

The latter is not as important as Texas Tech uses the wide splits to nullify all defensive linemen, but the first part was important as they made a point to put multiple blockers on Sutton as they knew he had the talent to blow up a play in the backfield.

Here are examples of what Sutton's ability to penetrate can do to a running game.

Even with his extra weight, he showed quickness off the line to cause problems for the offense. With the first play, he doesn't let the lineman get between him and the back and swallows up the back immediately. On the second play, he knifes through the offensive lineman, and gets to the running back before he can make it to the line of scrimmage. The gist of this is that the reports of his demise were greatly exaggerated.

With that being said, the second and third play of the Oregon State game in 2012 made my eyes get misty from tears of joy. Him at a lighter weight is a different animal. The first play is a nice job of reading a play and realizing that the best option is not just charging forward.

He drops back in a zone as he recognizes that they are setting up a screen and absolutely obliterates the running back.

I know that I said he obliterated the running back, but I'm struggling with that now. He definitely did obliterate the back, but now I don't know what to call what he does to the quarterback on this play.

Murder? Murder feels like the closest word to describe what happens on that play. Maybe a tad strong, but he basically made the quarterback look like a GI Joe action figure where the torso gets stretched from the middle groin part, but luckily the rubber band springs him back together. He hit him so hard that the quarterback dropped the ball before he got there. This may be evidence that Will Sutton has broken the space-time continuum.

Here is a play that Sutton does not make, and yet I love it almost as much as his highlight plays.

He could stand and let the play in, he could jump in on the pile, but instead he goes for the strip from the outside. He doesn't get it, but I love where his head is at on the play, as it's the kind of effort that could lead to a turnover.

From watching his play in 2013, two things became abundantly clear. The weight he added did not do him any favors either in performance or aesthetic appeal. The second thing was that even if he hadn't been circled in this cut-up, he still would have been the guy that jumped off the screen. He had four tackles in the game, but he was almost always the guy who got by far the most penetration out of all of the defensive linemen. He displayed good quickness and a nice club move that caused issues for the Texas Tech line. If the Bears drafted this player, it's a solid pick for them.

Meanwhile, watching him in 2012, he's Geno Atkins good (that is absolute ceiling, but ceilings for 3-techniques don't get much higher than that). Like, it's scary watching him, because there are plays where it looks more like a high school highlight tape where the guy is just outclassing his competition. If the Bears got this guy, they may have gotten the steal of the draft. I was happy when the Bears drafted him, but I am now elated. Thanks, Phil.

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