From now until the 2020 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.
#6 Josh Uche/EDGE-LB Michigan – 6’2 250
– Twitchy, excellent athlete who is an easy-mover in space and covers a lot of ground
– Explosive first step who will stress tackle’s set off the ball in the pass game
– Fluid and as comfortable going backwards as he is forward, gets depth in zone coverage and can carry the seam against #3/tight ends
– Terrific bend and ability to corner when he wins the edge, capable of ripping and bending through contact, great hip and ankle flexibility to win as a pass rusher
– Varied pass rusher who tries not to win with just speed, smart player who reads tackles set and attacks half-man
– At his best, serious playmaker and impact pass rusher
– Played with hand up and down and left/right end spots, along with seeing time kicked inside and in an off-ball role
– Productive despite limited playing time, still put up impressive sack totals
– Slight build, offensive tackles tower over him
– Lacks functional strength as a pass rusher, tackles aren’t afraid of his speed to power and can sit on outside rush, rendering him ineffective
– Too easily overwhelmed and overpowered at the point of attack, ends up on the ground too often because of it
– Struggles to disengage from blockers in the run game once tackles lock on
– Rotational player who wasn’t used in an every down role, allowed to play fresh and primarily in a third down/obvious pass role
– May require position switch to have most NFL success
– Only nine career starts in 38 games
– Career: 56 tackles, 20.5 TFL 16.5 sacks, 3 FFs
– 2019: 35 tackles, 11.5 TFL 8.5 sacks, 2 FFs
– Three-star prospect out of HS, chose Michigan over Alabama, Auburn, and Florida
Uche got my attention last year in watching Devin Bush and the number of draft prospects the Wolverines had coming out last year. It was this play in particular that made me go “wow.” At the end of their win over Northwestern, Uche had the key playing, turning this corner like so few can, beating the left tackle and taking down the quarterback.
Prospect to keep in mind for next year – Michigan's Josh Uche. Seven sacks in '18. Look at him turn the corner here. pic.twitter.com/ehVtWs8bSl
— Alex Kozora (@Alex_Kozora) April 19, 2019
That angle and hip/ankle bend is just plain rare. And when you see a guy who can do it on a Von Miller level, Uche can, you want to take a closer look. And you see those plays all over his tape.
Uche is a twitchy, energetic pass rusher who wants to fire off the ball, so much so he has to catch himself from jumping offsides from time to time. I also like how fluid he is moving backwards. As comfortable in his pedal and change of direction as he is attacking the quarterback. Watch him carry the seam here.
As a pass rusher, he tries not to be a one-trick guy because he wants to attack the tackle in different ways but he really only wins by bending through the corner. His lack of size is often an obstacle, he lacks power, and is too often controlled and overwhelmed by tackles. Two examples.
And he simply wasn’t an every-down player. Even this year, he was often used as a rotational, third down pass rusher. That let him play fresh and play in situations best suited to him. Having a wide alignment, dropping into coverage, not needing to be a down-to-down player.
His best fit in the NFL probably comes more of an off-ball WILL linebacker in an aggressive, versatile scheme that can situationally have him kick down to defensive end. Hard to offer a comp for that but I kinda envision a more athletic Devon Kennard, who has played that role with Detroit for the past couple of years. Make Uche a pure pass rusher and he’s going to be too soft on the edge to win consistently.
Projection: Early Day Three
Games Watched: vs Wisconsin (2018), at Ohio State (2018), vs Middle Tennessee State, vs Iowa