The draft season is over, and most of the 2017 NFL Draft prospects have signed their rookie contracts. That means that scouting departments across the nation are moving on to the next draft class. A big name in that 2018 NFL draft class is senior defensive end from Ohio State, Tyquan Lewis.
According to NFL Draft Scout, Lewis is 6’3″ and 265 pounds, so he is on the big side, as far as defensive ends in today’s NFL are concerned.
Lewis has appeared in 33 games in his three years in Columbus. In 2015, he was just seen as a running mate to future NFL superstar Joey Bosa. When you turn on the film, that is evident.
The first game of this series profiling Lewis is a game from 2015 versus the Maryland Terrapins. It was a multiple sack game for Lewis, in which he registered two sacks and essentially played the game in the Terrapins’ backfield, en route to 2.5 tackles for loss and a total of five tackles.
The first thing you notice when you turn on film is his size, especially in his lower body. He harnesses a lot of power in his lower half. His size allowed former Tampa Bay Buccaneers head coach and now Buckeyes defensive coordinator, Greg Schiano, to move Lewis around.
That included moving him inside on third down passing situations. Schiano kicked Lewis inside, where he could use his short area quickness and power to create pressure. On the first play, Lewis is aligned as a three technique defensive tackle. Post-snap, he loops outside to attack the outside shoulder of the guard. With his speed, the guard must help the tackle protect his gap, and that split second gives the looper the A gap to immediately put pressure on the QB.
On the second exotic look, Lewis is again aligned inside. He crashes hard inside to set up the linebacker blitz. What I like about this play is how he leads with his hands, utilizes good hand placement, and brings power behind his strike.
In the third play, Lewis is lined up at defensive tackle, side-by-side with Joey Bosa. Based on the rushing attack by Lewis, it looks as if his goal was to make sure that Bosa got a one-on-one with the tackle because post-snap, he attacks hard inside. As the QB is forced up into the pocket, Lewis changes his angle of attack and helps bring the QB down.
Here are the plays in full:
Not only did Schiano bump him inside, but he also put Lewis in a two point stance and had him drop to the flats. Lewis looked a little stiff and mechanical, which is probably why this was often done into the boundary. Unfortunately, the offense ran the ball on both occasions, so that is another area to keep an eye on in future film study.
In this game, Lewis definitely reaped the benefits of being on the same defensive line as Joey Bosa. One of Lewis’s strengths is his ability to key the ball on pass rushes. Schiano schemed most major pass rushes for Bosa, so Lewis’s role was often as a rush contain player. This isn’t a bad role for him because if he was unable to beat the offensive lineman with his initial rush, then he turned into a contain player with current Buffalo Bill Adolphus Washington. He is very good in that role, and that can be attributed to his ability to key the QB and his use of hands. His eyes are always up, and his hands are right over his eyes. This allows him to make plays once teammates forced the QB off the spot. Lewis was then there to disengage and pick up the sack. His two sacks were not quality sacks, but his overall role in this game as a rush-contain player is one prevalent in the NFL.
On to a few negatives I noticed in this game: As much as I like Lewis’s ability to use hand placement when rushing the passer, I was not impressed with his use of hands against the run. There were several plays, typically on the backside of runs, where he failed to use his hands to stack the linemen. He attempted to just protect himself, rather than to use his length and power to shed and stay on his feet. With the prevalence of zone runs in the NFL, where backside offensive lineman typically cut on the backside, this is something to keep an eye on. The technique and timing by offensive linemen to cut at the next level is much better, and if Lewis doesn’t improve on that skill, then running backs could have big holes to cut back into.
Finally, I was not impressed with Lewis’s pass rush. He didn’t jump off the screen with his upfield burst. In fact, it seemed below average. His speed, quickness, or explosiveness were never threats to Maryland’s offensive tackles. This was even more concerning, considering how he saw a lot of one-on-ones because of Bosa. Take the following 3rd and 8 play. He takes a good angle to the QB, who is utilizing a 5-step drop out of the shotgun. Then, as he engages with the tackle, he brings that aforementioned power and seems to have the tackle skating. But the tackle recovers, and Lewis doesn’t transition to a secondary move. It is completely unknown whether he was actually playing the contain role, as Bosa was aligned next to him at defensive tackle, but this occurred several times on film. He only flashed a good bull rush move in the game, and not once did he show a secondary pass rush move. This will be something to keep an eye on as we continue to analyze his film.
Overall, although he had a very good game from a statistical perspective, the quality of those plays versus average competition was very underwhelming. At times, it appeared to be due to the scheme and his role within it, but it will certainly be something we continue to study.
Strengths-Versatility (DE and DT), Use of hands versus the pass (hand placement, power), bull rush, timing and lateral movement on stunts and twists.
Weaknesses- UOH vs, the run, speed, quickness, explosiveness off the edge, pass rush moves/plan (failed to display), counter pass rush moves.