Defensive End #9
Junior, 6’4″ 250
Hailing from Virginia power Oscar Smith, Sweat was an Under Armour All-American and widely considered the top prep prospect in the 2015 class. He took the next step in 2016 and 2017 should be more of the same.
A serious knee injury derailed his prep senior season and required a slow healing process, but Sweat battled through it and was named a Freshman All-American Honorable Mention in 2015. He started 10 games this past season where he racked up seven sacks and 11.5 tackles for loss.
He’s operated as a stand-up edge rusher and a 5 and 7-Tech with his hand in his dirt on both sides of the ball. Sweat uncoils a tightly-wound, powerful punch that lands inside blockers’ breast plates as he latches on and extends to create separation. Furthermore, he’s skilled at the point of attack and can park along the edge with natural leverage to maintain control of his gap and keep that playside shoulder free. He’s a noticeably athletic edge defender with the blend of twitch and lateral agility to battle reach blocks and seamlessly change direction in short areas. While he’s still developing as a pass rusher, Sweat has flashed the flexion in his hips, knees and ankles to efficiently corner.
The area with the most growth potential is getting to the passer as Sweat remains raw and lacks the technical refinement to suggest he could immediately step in and thrive. He can become too tall as he enters his pass rush reps, intensifying his ability to beat tackles around the edge and win as a hands-rusher. While he has the explosion and leverage to survive as a speed-to-power rusher, Sweat will lose leverage on occasion which further leads to a wasted rep.
Between 2015 and 2016, Sweat’s growth was exponentially important and recognizable both against the run and the pass. I see a prospect who’s Jadeveon Clowney-esque: the South Carolina prospect noticeably lacked the pass rushing nuance early in his NFL career, but countered as a dependable run defender. With another season under his belt, look for Sweat to take that final step in his progression.