Positives: Has good size, athletic ability and impressive strength. He rarely gets pushed off the ball even against double teams, and stands up well versus the run. Shows consistent ability to stack and shed versus the run and regularly makes stops at or near the line of scrimmage by doing so. He also gets off the ball well, especially for a man his size, and can beat an offensive lineman just by getting off the ball and getting upfield quickly. He flashes a bit of a swim move in this instance, but often he will just drive his man into the backfield either when locked onto him or when dipping his shoulder under the pads of the offensive lineman. He penetrates very well against the run for this reason, and flows well against the run and moves well laterally down the line of scrimmage as he flows to the ball. He shows some wrap-up ability and also has some pop as a hitter, and also has some closing speed. He has a good bull rush because of his great strength and collapses the pocket that way, and draws a lot of double teams as a pass rusher because he can dominant one on one blocks with his brute strength. He has a very good motor which is how he gets a good deal of his pressure, and chases almost every play downfield from the back side and often makes a stop, eliciting surprised comments from announcers. He has a strong initial punch which is indicative of his overall strength, and more than once I have seen him punch an offensive lineman to initiate contact and just knock them down.
Negatives: While Liuget really burst onto the scene this year his hand usage still needs a good deal of developing. He can stack and shed well and can get off blocks given time against the pass, but he really has no pass rush moves and needs to continue to develop his occasionally used swim move as well as other pass rushing moves. Once he bull rushes and pushes his man into the backfield against the pass he doesn’t have any secondary moves to get off blocks and either has to wait until the blocker eases up or he has to back off and try to go around instead of just using his hands effectively. He just stays blocked too much as a pass rusher, largely because all he has in his arsenal is a bull rush and a good motor. This probably has something to do with him dropping a lot of weight from 310 pounds to 285 or 290 this year, making him a more disruptive player versus only an effective run defender. He also doesn’t seem to read and react well, and doesn’t seem to have very good instincts. His good motor overshadows this a bit, but he bites on a lot of play action fakes and as a result runs himself out of plays. He just doesn’t seem to locate the ball well. He shows some closing speed, but it definitely isn’t good or great.
Overall: I like Liuget as a prospect and he really came on strong this year. There have to be concerns about him being a one year wonder, but having the work ethic that it takes to lose the kind of weight that he did as well as hustle on every play as far as 15 or 20 yards downfield to make a tackle reassures me that he will continue to improve. His pass rush moves are more or less non-existent at this point aside from his bull-rush. I tend to believe these could develop with some coaching up, but obviously he is going to be very limited as a pass rusher until he develops his swim move further. He also should learn rip and club moves because with his brute strength they could be devastating weapons. However, he is a quality run defender and can collapse the pocket thanks to his brute strength, so while he may not be the dominating force some believe him to be I think with time he could be a very disruptive force versus the run and the pass, he just needs time to learn and develop before that can happen.
Projection: Late 1st, early 2nd. I was high enough on him to project him as a mid-1st round pick for a while, but given the fact that he won’t have a significant impact as a pass rusher until he develops pass rush moves I think that while he may go earlier in the draft than this his limited initial impact may, and probably should, push him down draft boards. I still like him as a prospect but his pass rushing is still very raw and undeveloped at this point. How hard he works at developing his hand usage and pass rush moves will dictate how good of a NFL player he becomes.
1-poor, 2-weak, 3-above average, 4-very good, 5-elite
Point Of Attack: 3.5
Pass Rush: 2.5