If you’re a team looking for defensive talent in the 2019 NFL Draft, then you’re in luck; that’s been no secret. There’s one player that might be one of the best-kept secrets, though. Montez Sweat has been really consistent for the Mississippi State Bulldogs over the last two seasons. He’ll get overlooked because of players like Nick Bosa and Brian Burns, but there’s a good chance that we could see Montez Sweat’s name called in the first round of the 2019 NFL Draft.
Before he became a potential first-round pick and a Mississippi State Bulldog, he played at Copiah-Lincoln (Co-Lin) Community College for one season. This was after two seasons at Michigan State, where he only played two games against Jacksonville State and Eastern Michigan.
Coming out of Stephenson High School in Stone Mountain, Georgia, Sweat was a three-star recruit who had offers from Michigan State, Vanderbilt, Cincinnati, and Duke. After his two seasons at Michigan State and his one season playing at a junior college, he could have transferred to LSU, Texas A&M or Mississippi State. His road through college has been different than most of the prospects in the 2019 NFL Draft, but he’s officially here, and I think he’s here to stay. Before he gets drafted, he will compete in the 2019 Senior Bowl. Let’s take a look at some film and see what the talented edge rusher provides.
Great Bend and Discipline
If this is your first time studying an edge rusher, you really want to pay attention to how disciplined they are coming off the edge. Meanwhile, how do they bend down the LOS and pursue to the football? If you see a lack of effort or an edge rusher that gets too deep in the backfield, you might want to reconsider how talented the prospect really is.
On the play above, you can see how Montez Sweat reads the right tackle. As the right tackle blocks down, he gets a feel for where the ball carrier is going. You can see him get to the heels of the offensive line, which is so crucial, and then he bends down the LOS. While in pursuit, he gets his head across, wraps and finishes with a nice tackle. When left free, he can certainly become a factor in stopping the run.
Montez Sweat plays the play above (against Auburn) to what the play against Alabama looked like. The right tackle blocks down and Sweat stays home. In the process, he turns his lower body in the direction of the quarterback, which puts him in a better position if the quarterback keeps it. However, it’s given to the running back and Sweat bends and makes the tackle. It’s always good to see an edge rusher stay home and not play out of control. His base is wide, and he’s ready for the quarterback to keep it or for the running back to get the ball.
Here it is again, but this time he’s playing as the right end rather than the left end. This shows the versatility that Sweat provides a defense. He can play on either side and will play with his hand in the dirt or standing up. As for the play, he plays it identically to what we saw from the previous play. Wide base, good pad level, and comes in under control. Once the exchange is made, he reads and reacts with a good bend and a tackle.
Wrong Arm Technique
Whenever you see a defensive lineman put in the effort to take on a block and do it the right way, put him atop your depth chart. The wrong arm technique is a selfless way to play defensive line, and it’s a tough technique to execute. Montez Sweat shows his ability to play selflessly and execute the wrong arm.
This is perfection. During the play above, the right guard and the H-back pull down the line and into the direction of Sweat. He takes on the right guard and rips through his block with his right arm. While ripping and coming up through the block, he turns upfield and opens the door to the ball carrier. This puts him in position to assist on the tackle, and he actually makes the initial contact on the running back.
Don’t Sleep on Power
It won’t happen on every rep and maybe not during every game, but don’t sleep on the power behind Montez Sweat. At 6’6″ and 241 pounds, it’ll get overlooked, but Sweat can bring it. On the play above, he’s matched up against Kansas State offensive tackle Dalton Risner. He explodes off the ball and gets underneath Risner’s pads. Once he extends, he rolls his hips and powers through. He powers him to the ground and into the rushing lane of the running back.
Countering Inside – Rushing Inside
We never want our edge rushers to be one dimensional. We want them to be able to rush outside and inside. But when they can’t rush outside, what do they do? We want them to be able to counter back inside. Your hands are your weapons and we want to see how they’re utilized.
If you want to see a perfect example of how Montez Sweat counters back inside, check the play above. His initial rush is on the outside, and once he can’t get the corner on the offensive tackle he plants with his outside foot and counters back inside. He doesn’t have a plethora of moves with his hands when doing so, and that’s one of his downsides as a pass rusher. However, he uses momentum to counter back inside, which puts some pressure on the quarterback. It’s disappointing to not see a sack made, but the upside is there.
Against Kentucky, Jeffery Simmons and Montez Sweat were all over the field. Plays like these are what make Sweat so fun to watch. Once the ball is snapped, he plants hard with his left leg (outside) and rips inside the right tackle. He gets in so quick that the right tackle falls over, which allows him to have a clear path to make the tackle. Having the ability to get inside on an offensive tackle will lead to a ton of success.
One thing that will constantly stand out when watching Montez Sweat is his long arms. At 6’6″, his arm length and wingspan will certainly be longer than most, and he puts it on display here. The long arm technique is when you use your inside hand to create separation but also put yourself in position rush the passer.
Once the ball is snapped, you can see the burst from Sweat, and he hits the right tackle with a long-arm. As he continues to get the edge, he uses his speed but also some power by pulling the right tackle down. This allows him to flatten much easier to the quarterback and bring him down for the sack. Not only will he terrorize quarterbacks with this type of ability, but he’ll also embarrass plenty of offensive tackles on Sundays.
One of the most common pass rush moves is the speed rush. It’s simple; burst, outrun the offensive tackle, and flatten to the quarterback. More often than not, Montez Sweat doesn’t have any issues with it. It’s a big part of why he finished his Bulldog career with 101 tackles, 30 tackles for loss, and 23.5 sacks.
On the play above, you can see his burst off the ball. He uses his speed to get the edge and flatten to the quarterback. His burst really puts him in position to make this play, and once the offensive tackle extends, he rips through the block.
During the early stages of the draft process, Montez Sweat is one of my favorite players in the 2019 NFL Draft. He’s certainly got first-round potential, and teams are going to covet his pass rushing skills. As for his ability to stop the run, it’s not as consistent as you’d want it to be. He needs to become more consistent with his hands and a do a better job at developing a pass rush plan. But he does the little things right as a pass rusher and finds himself consistently in the right position to make a play.
Montez Sweat got after the passer this season pic.twitter.com/JReqF5y6gc— PFF College (@PFF_College) December 31, 2018
Despite those flaws, he’s shown consistency setting the edge. Even though his college career is over, he’s still going to get to compete against some of the top offensive players in the country. In less than two weeks, Sweat will be competing at the 2019 Reese’s Senior Bowl. He’ll compete against offensive linemen such as Andre Dillard from Washington State and Chuma Edoga from USC. While he has a first round grade on my board right now, he can absolutely solidify it with a good week in Mobile at the Senior Bowl.