NFL Draft

2019 NFL Draft Player Profiles: Mississippi State DE Montez Sweat

From now until the 2019 NFL Draft takes place, we hope to showcase as many prospects as possible and examine both their strengths and weaknesses. Most of these profiles will feature individuals that the Pittsburgh Steelers are likely to have an interest in, while a few others will be top-ranked players. If there is a player you would like us to analyze, let us know in the comments below.

#9 Montez Sweat/DE Mississippi State – 6’6 252

The Good

– Excellent size and tremendous length (35 3/8 inch arms, 84 1/2 inch wingspan)
– Shows upper body strength and ability to hold the point of attack, isn’t weak and pushed around like so many other “long” bodies on the edge
– Powerful initial strike in run and pass game, shows proper hand placement and uses length to create space between he and the blocker
– Ability to bend through contact, can string together multiple pass rush moves, bull to rip is his favorite
– Creates power on his bull rush, capable of walking guards back when he rushes the B gap
– Smart rusher who reads tackle and sets up well when given a two-way go
– Non-stop motor, high effort player who chases the ball sideline to sideline and downfield
– Big hitter who finishes his plays
– Surprisingly good leverage for his size, keeps his pad level down, especially against the run
– Versatile, played both defensive end spots, asked to stunt plenty in a defense with an NFL feel
– Highly productive career, many sacks came against quality competition
– Decent starting experience, time with his hand up and down

The Bad

– Will get a little tight turning the corner without contact, natural limitations of someone with his size/build
– While he shows hand use, can get stuck on tackles in pass game too often and for too long
– In some ways, length will hurt him when trying to go around, space created allows tackle time to recover
– Was not asked to drop into coverage, not confident in his ability in space to move backwards, likely limited to a 4-3 scheme
– In limited work, did struggle against top competition (Alabama’s Jonah Williams)
– Off the field concerns


– Two year starter (25 starts)
– Career: 29.5 TFL, 23 sacks, 1 FF
– 2018: 14 TFL, 11 sacks
– Second-team AP All-American in 2018
– Two time All-SEC First-Team selection
– Played DE/OLB hybrid in 2017, DE in 2018
– Committed to Michigan State in 2014, recorded half a sack, transferred to a JUCO in spring of 2016 for “personal reasons”
– Suffered “indefinite” suspension by MSU in September, 2015 for violation of team rules, didn’t play rest of the year

Tape Breakdown

Sweat is a good prospect. Not a great one but a well-rounded dude I think will have plenty of success at the NFL level. Just not in that elite tier. And unfortunately for Pittsburgh, probably not a scheme threat.

His length, size, and power he matches up with both is impressive. Potent one-arm stab when he wants to use power against tackles. Proper hand placement on his punch creates leverage and force, like he does against the Florida LT in the below clip.

I also love this dude’s effort. I know when we’re talking about potential first round picks, effort isn’t going to be the main thing, but it’s such a defining characteristic of any player to go from fringe to roster, good to great, great to elite. From Tyler Matakevich to Vince Williams to Antonio Brown, you find those stories along the Steelers’ roster. Sweat is that dude. He’ll chase the ball all over the lot. Two examples.

Get him matched up on a tight end and he’ll dominate in the run game. Watch the power he has to walk back the tight end here.

Despite the gaudy sack numbers in just two seasons of top flight SEC play, I don’t consider Sweat a natural pass rusher. He’s good but not a 10+ sack guy in the NFL at defensive end. He works hard with his hand use and it’s relatively developed but can still get stuck on rushes and isn’t quite fluid enough to quickly disengage. The length he has as a pass rusher can actually be a problem – in the run game, you want to create pass to stack and shed, in the pass game, you want to reduce that space to quickly shed and swap hips. On his power rushes, it works well. When he tries to go around though, you’ll see it work against him. Watch left tackle Jonah Williams’, one of the better offensive linemen in this class, school him here.

For Pittsburgh, he didn’t drop into coverage and like I mentioned in the above paragraph, I don’t see him quite fluid enough to drop and move around, even though the Steelers reduced their linebackers to covering only about 20% of the time this year. Still an element of the position.

Ideally, he’s a strongside 4-3 defensive end who can play the run, net you 5-7 sacks, and play with top effort and overall consistency. A good player I do like. I’m just not sure I’m sold on him as a first rounder. If you’re looking pass rusher with your top pick, you want someone with a higher ceiling. Middle class man’s version of Michael Bennett.

Projection: Early Day Two

Games Watched: at Kansas St, vs Florida, at Alabama, at Ole Miss

Previous 2019 NFL Draft Player Profiles
Devin White Dax Raymond Josh Allen Te’von Coney Germaine Pratt
Mack Wilson Amani Oruwariye Josh Oliver Devin Bush Trayvon Mullen
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