From now until the 2021 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.
#17 Rashad Weaver/EDGE/Pittsburgh/6’4”, 265 Lbs
-Impressive length overall for the position
-Wingspan is insane, allowing him to keep clean overall when he wants to
-Sound run defender who can shed and make plays quickly
-Able to gain good initial depth as pass rusher
-Good overall pass rush toolbox; flashed swipes, counters and good combinations to win
-Initial first punch flashes raw power
-Thinks he’s more of an athletic rusher, but isn’t quick-twitch and bendy
-Initial first step won’t challenge corner against most NFL tackles
-Tends to play with high pad level overall
-Needs to learn to utilize length much more to his advantage
-Motor isn’t great overall for backside defender, won’t chase down plays from backside
-Played in 35 career games at Pittsburgh, starting final 23 games of his career
-Missed all of 2019 season after suffering injury in training camp
-Finished three-year career at Pittsburgh with 110 tackles, 34.5 tackles for loss, 17 tackles, nine pass deflections, five forced fumbles and four fumble recoveries
-Garnered first-team All-America honors from the Associated Press, American Football Coaches Association (AFCA), Football Writers Association of America (FWAA) and Walter Camp Football Foundation
-Named First Team All-ACC
-Competed in the 2021 Reese’s Senior Bowl
-Semifinalist for the 2020 Bednarik Award (presented to the national defensive player of the year)
A guy who steps off the bus and scares opponents, Pittsburgh EDGE Rashad Weaver certainly looks the part of an NFL edge rusher. The production over the last few years is there too, but with his length, power and pass rushing repertoire, Weaver leaves a bit to be desired on tape.
Yes, Weaver was a semifinalist for the 2020 Bednarik. He was also a standout at the 2021 Senior Bowl and earned First Team All-American honors across the board. He really could be that much better if he learns to use his length and power to his advantage.
Weaver needs to get out of the mindset that he’s a quick-twitch, bendy pass rusher. He’s simply not. What he can be is a guy who overpowers linemen, creates a ton of separation with his freakish length, and utilizes his power to shed quickly to make plays.
His first step won’t consistently threaten the edge in the NFL, but he has the hand usage and length to be a solid rotational piece in a 4-3 or a 3-4 as a 5-tech.
As you can see in this clip against Clemson late in the 2020 season, Weaver’s first step won’t get him up the field quickly to win with speed.
What he does well though is use a swipe to keep himself clean and turn the corner, bursting back up the field to close in on Trevor Lawrence and pop the ball free.
When Weaver doesn’t initially win, he has the ability to use his eyes and counter against tackles, working back into the pocket to make a play on the quarterback who may be stepping up in the pocket.
Here on the road against Miami (Fl.) in 2020, Weaver does a nice job shooting a hand up into the initial throwing lane, before then wiping himself free on the counter to get in on the sack. While this sack was negated due to a facemask penalty from a teammate, Weaver showed good ability to counter and win on broken plays.
Weaver flashes good hand usage overall at times, but it’s a bit inconsistent on tape. When he wants to, he can beat some of the best tackles in the country. Here, he beats Notre Dame tackle Liam Eichenberg, hitting him with a quick club and wipe, causing Eichenberg to whiff on the punch, allowing Weaver to apply pressure on quarterback Ian Book.
Again, Weaver can really counter back inside. Here against Boston College tackle Tyler Vrabel (Mike Vrabel’s son), Weaver does a good job getting good initial depth on his outside rush, causing the BC quarterback to step up in the pocket. When Weaver sees that he’s able to quickly counter back inside, stripping the ball in the process for the splash play.
As a run defender, I like the way Weaver uses his length at times to keep himself clean, hold his position overall and then shed and make a play.
This was a terrific run rep in the red zone by Weaver on the road against Miami. His eyes never leave the backfield, and he shows good feel against the lineman to hold him at bay and find the football.
Weaver can win quickly when playing the run, but I want to see him get more consistent finishing in the backfield as a run defender.
That might be crazy to read considering he made 34.5 tackles for loss as a Panther, but he left a lot of plays on the field with missed tackles.
Overall, Weaver looks like a strong rotational defensive end who can thrive in a 4-3 or as a 5-tech in a 3-4. He really needs to tap into his strength, which is just that: his power and length. He needs to get a bit stronger for the next level, but he should be able to care out a career as a run defender and a decent pass rusher overall in a rotation.
Projection: Mid Day 3
Games watched: Syracuse (2020), Louisville (2020), NC State (2020), Boston College (2020), Miami (Fl.) (2020), Clemson (2020)