From now until the 2023 NFL Draft, we will scout and create profiles for as many prospects as possible, examining their strengths, weaknesses, and what they can bring to an NFL franchise. These players could be potential top-10 picks, all the way down to Day 3 selections and priority undrafted free agents Today, we’ll be profiling Michigan State DL Jacob Slade.
#64 Jacob Slade, DL, Michigan State (R-Sr.) — 6031, 285
|Player||Ht/Wt||Hand Size||Arm Length||Wingspan|
|Jacob Slade||6031/285||9.5″||32 3/8″||81″|
|40-Yard Dash||10-Yard Dash||Short Shuttle||3-Cone|
|Broad Jump||Vertical||Bench Press|
— Disciplined run defender that holds his gaps and has good ball awareness
— Strong lower half that can anchor and hold ground versus double-teams
— Consistently gets hands up in the passing game
— Possess a powerful punch that can stun blockers and give him space to operate in the run game
— Nice swipe move as a pass rusher
— Good first step off the snap
— Can generate enough power with bull rush to collapse pocket
— Undersized for the position at only 285 pounds
— Average length and can struggle to separate from linemen
— Lacks juice as a pass rusher, very limited repertoire
— Doesn’t have the short area quickness to shake linemen with his feet
— Play speed is below average and worse than he tested
— Battled injuries all through 2022 and had better tape in 2021 because of it
— Misses more tackles than he should due to ducking his head
— 17.5% career missed tackle rate, per PFF
— 88 tackles, 11.5 tackles for loss, 4.0 sacks, and 4 pass deflected in 42 career games
— 26 career starts
— Participated in the NFLPA Collegiate Bowl
— 2021 and 2022 Honorable Mention All-Big Ten
— Missed four games in 2022 due to injury
— Was an All-State left tackle in high school (Ohio)
— Selected by the Pittsburgh Maulers with the second pick of the ninth round (No. 65 overall) in the USFL draft
— Twin brother, Zach, also plays defensive line for Michigan State
— Turned 23 in February
— Graduated with an economics degree in May 2022
In the upcoming draft, teams may be searching for value in the later rounds due to the relatively thin defensive tackle class. One player who could be a potential late-round selection is Jacob Slade from Michigan State. While he may not have been the most productive player in East Lansing, only having over 20 tackles in one season, he possesses certain qualities that could appeal to teams. So much so, that he’s actually already been drafted this year as he was selected by the Pittsburgh Maulers in the USFL draft back in February.
Jumping into the tape, Slade is a throwback run-stopper with good overall strength and power. At 285 pounds, he’s not a traditional 0-tech run plugger but he gets the job done.
Here are two examples where he’s able to use his powerful initial punch to bench press lineman off of him and get in on the tackle.
While he doesn’t have phenomenal length, Slade still possesses the ability to stack and shed.
Shifting more to his lower half, Slade also has the functional lower body strength to hold his own vs. double teams and not give up ground.
While Jacob Slade has demonstrated his strength and power as a run-stopper, one area where he needs to improve is his tackling ability. According to PFF, Slade has missed 20 tackles throughout his career, resulting in a missed tackle rate of 17.5%. This is a concerning issue that Slade will need to address as he transitions into the professional ranks.
The primary reason behind Slade’s high missed tackle numbers is his tendency to lower his head into contact, leading to him frequently missing his target. This is evident in the following play, where he ends up tackling the opposing offensive lineman’s leg instead of the ball carrier,
Regarding his pass rush, Jacob Slade is not expected to provide significant contributions in this area. In a game against Penn State, he faced NFL-level talent in Juice Scruggs, and was largely outmatched on most of his pass-rushing attempts. His lack of short-area agility and flexibility limits his potential to consistently pressure the quarterback.
As a result, Slade has recorded only 4.0 career sacks, with only 0.5 in the entirety of the 2022 season. While his pass-rushing limitations may not be surprising, teams may need to consider this aspect when evaluating him in the draft.
While Jacob Slade’s pass-rushing ability is limited, there are some positive aspects to his game that teams could potentially build upon.
For instance, he has demonstrated the ability to generate decent power with his bull rush, as shown in the following play where he forklifts the left guard back into the quarterback’s lap. This prevents the quarterback from stepping into his throw, ultimately leading to an inaccurate pass.
With proper coaching and development, Slade could potentially refine his bull rush technique to become a more effective pass-rusher at the next level.
Slade’s most effective pass-rushing move appears to be his two-hand swipe.
Here are two examples of him utilizing this move to beat his opponents in a game against Michigan in their 2021 matchup.
As seen in the second clip above, Slade does a nice job consistently getting his hand up in the passing lanes to try to deflect passes.
Here’s another example of him doing so against Western Kentucky.
Jacob Slade may not have the most impressive stats, but he’s got some qualities that could make him a pick in the later rounds of the upcoming draft. He’s a disciplined run defender who holds his gaps and has a strong lower half that can anchor and hold ground versus double teams. Slade also possesses a powerful punch that can stun blockers and give him space to operate in the run game. While he lacks quickness and a diverse set of pass-rushing moves, he can generate enough power with his bullrush to collapse the pocket.
However, Slade’s undersized for the position, and his play speed is below average. He also has a high missed tackle rate, which is a concern due to his tendency to lower his head into contact. On the bright side, Slade battled injuries throughout the 2022 season and had much better tape in 2021, which could mean his best football is still in front of him once he’s healthy.
Overall, Slade may not be a game-changer, but he’s worth considering for teams looking for depth in the later rounds. While he would likely be an undrafted free agent in a deeper class, the relative lack of depth this year may lead to a team taking a flier on him late on day three.
Projection: Late Day 3
Depot Draft Grade: 5.8 – Undrafted Free Agent
Games Watched: Wisconsin (2022), Penn State (2022), Michigan (2021), Western Kentucky (2021)