By Alex Kozora
Our focus has shifted to the offseason and for the next few months, I’ll be providing scouting reports on several draft prospects. Some of these players the Pittsburgh Steelers may look at and others will be top players that will be off the board before they select. All to make you as prepared as possible for the 2014 NFL Draft.
Breakdown of Oregon defensive end Taylor Hart.
Taylor Hart/DE Oregon: 6’6/ 281
– NFL looking frame with good bulk and possibility to add more
– Gets his arms extended
– Good athlete in space
– Does well to work his way down the line vs zone schemes, disruptive in the backfield
– Tremendous effort, one of the best motors I’ve seen in this class
– Solid upper body strength, holds POA well
– High football IQ, repeatedly snuffed out plays and gets his hands up to knock passes down
– Bull rush capable of collapsing the pocket
– Versatile, played all spots along the defensive line
– Tons of starting experience
– Strong senior campaign
– Shorter arms than expected for his frame (32 3/4)
– Struggles with his leverage because of height, must play with better pad level
– Leads him to getting washed, most evident versus power schemes
– Issue compounded by average burst off the line
– Some trouble staying square to his block, leads with his shoulder
– Hands a bit heavy and didn’t always flash ability to shed
– 39 career starts at Oregon
– 2013: 75 tackles, 6.5 TFL, 3.5 sacks, 3 forced fumbles, 5 pass deflections
– Career: 173 tackles, 22.5 TFL, 15.5 sacks, 11 pass deflections
– 2013 All-Pac 12 Second Team
– Two-time All-Conference Honorable Mention
– Broke bone in foot working out following senior year, missed Senior Bowl and did not work at the Combine
– Worked out at his Pro Day, running in the 4.8’s
Like I wrote in my scouting report on EJ Gaines, there are usually certain traits you first focus on when looking at a position. For corners, it’s speed and ability to play the ball. For defensive lineman, it’s about their strength, hands, and athleticism.
For Hart, I won’t start with those traits. Because it’s his motor that sticks out the most. Incredibly high-effort individual whose attitude will be infectious in an NFL locker room. Doesn’t quit on any play.
Sees the screen and despite falling down, quickly gets back up and helps chip in on the tackle. Hart is the left end in the GIF below, wearing #66.
The first clip is one of my favorite from Hart in the three games I watched. That’s him chasing down Brandin Cooks, one of the quickest-twitch players in this draft, from behind on a screen. Won’t see many defensive ends make that play.
In the second clip, there’s no compelling reason for Hart to track the receiver down. A lot of players would have taken the play off and no one would bat an eye. Maybe I’m indulging here and towing the line of objectivity, but I think for Hart, it’s a bit personal. It’s his field and he’s not going to let you run around on it. A trait that should be admired.
Bouncing off that, he has a great football IQ. Reads and reacts to plays quickly. Blew up screen after screen.
Hart struggles more in confined spaces but as those clips shows, he’s an athlete in the open field. Fluid and runs well. If his Pro Day were to be believed, a 4.8 result for his frame is excellent.
Like his upper body strength and it translates into an effective bull rush. Again, Hart the left end.
The clips may be misleading in the sense Hart was not strictly a left end. Moved all about Oregon’s defense. Originally a defensive tackle before kicking out. Saw considerable time at both end spots and some work at one tech. Also stood up and dropped into coverage a few times over the course of the three games. Worked out at linebacker by the Colts at his Pro Day.
Does have his flaws. Chiefly, with leverage. At 6’6, he has trouble getting his butt down. Can get washed and run out of the play. Know it isn’t a strength issues because he’s shown that on numerous plays. It’s a problem with his technique.
At right end in the below clip. Gets stuck, knocked back, and the runner sprints for a large gain.
Has difficulty staying square to his blocks. Can get turned and washed. Right end below.
As I noted, that issue is compounded by him not having a great first step. Won’t always get into the offensive lineman’s pads off the ball, not allowing himself to gain control.
I wrote this on Twitter and I’ll say it again. Hart reminds me a lot of Brett Keisel. Good, but not great, athletes who have quality strength and play like every snap is their last. If Keisel’s career is any indication, someone I wouldn’t mind having on my side.
Projection: 4th Round
Games Watched: at Virginia, vs Tennessee, vs Oregon St
Previous Scouting Reports:
Buffalo LB Khalil Mack
Illinois State T/G Josh Aladenoye
Penn State WR Allen Robinson
Stanford ILB Shayne Skov/a>
Florida State WR Kelvin Benjamin
North Carolina TE Eric Ebron
Auburn T Greg Robinson
Minnesota DT Ra’Shede Hageman
Notre Dame NT Louis Nix III
Auburn LB Dee Ford
Texas Tech TE Jace Amaro
North Dakota State T Billy Turner
Boston College RB Andre Williams
South Carolina DE Jadeveon Clowney
BYU OLB Kyle Van Noy
Pittsburgh DT Aaron Donald
Tennessee NT Daniel McCullers
Colorado State DE/OLB Shaquil Barrett
Alabama T Cyrus Kouandjio
Tennessee T Antonio Richardson
Central Florida RB Storm Johnson
Virginia Tech CB Kyle Fuller
Alabama S Ha Ha Clinton-Dix
West Virginia DE Will Clarke
Louisville S Calvin Pryor
Wisconsin ILB Chris Borland
Vanderbilt WR Jordan Matthews
Virginia T Morgan Moses
Notre Dame DE Stephon Tuitt
Mississippi WR Donte Moncrief
Central Florida QB Blake Bortles
Texas A&M QB Johnny Manziel
North Carolina DE Kareem Martin
UCLA OLB Anthony Barr
South Carolina CB Victor Hampton
Clemson WR Martavis Bryant
Fresno State WR Davante Adams
Texas DE/OLB Jackson Jeffcoat
Michigan State CB Darqueze Dennard
TCU CB Jason Verrett
Louisiana Tech NT Justin Ellis
Baylor RB Lache Seastrunk
Rice CB Phillip Gaines
Coastal Carolina RB Lorenzo Taliaferro
LSU WR Odell Beckham Jr.
Cincinnati TE Blake Annen
Alabama LB C.J. Mosley
Auburn RB Tre Mason
Duke CB Ross Cockrell
Missouri CB E.J. Gaines
Utah CB Keith McGill
Nebraska WR Quincy Enunwa
Penn State G John Urschel