Before going to Boston College, Harold Landry was a three star recruit at Pine Forest High School in Fayetteville, North Carolina. Despite fielding offers from Tennessee, Syracuse and Clemson, he visited Boston College. One thing led to another and he enrolled early with the Eagles. Rather than redshirting, he contributed right away as a freshman. By the time he was a sophomore, he was starting and had a career high in tackles with 60 and tackles for loss with 16.5.
It was surprising last year when Landry opted to stay at Boston College for his senior season. After a strong junior campaign in which he had 50 total tackles, 22 tackles for loss and 16.5 sacks, there was speculation that he would enter the 2017 NFL Draft and become a first round pick. By staying another year, did it hurt his draft stock? Not necessarily, and it could have actually helped.
Last year he would have competed with Myles Garrett, Solomon Thomas and Derek Barnett to go within the top 15 picks of the draft. Obviously, there would have been a chance that he fell out of that group. That will remain unknown because he stayed for his senior season. However, something we do know is that it looks like he’ll be a lock to go within the top 15 picks this year. Let’s dive into some film and take a look at why he’s a top-15 pick in this year’s draft.
- Explosive pass rusher with great burst off the line of scrimmage (LOS)
- This explosiveness gives him the advantage in flipping his hips and getting after the quarterback
- Corners quarterbacks with strong rip move and bend
- Athletically gifted with long arms; creates separation
- Good pursuit to ball carrier, good motor
- Flashes ability to drop into coverage from hook/curl to flats
- Can stand up or rush with hand in the dirt; has experience doing both
- Consistently counter rushes with an inside move
- Lateral agility through traffic, bend down the line of scrimmage (LOS)
- Plays below pad level with good lateral movement
- Mentally/physically tough; played through ankle injury
- Will only be 22 years old when the season begins
- Consistent hand placement and leverage
- Most common moves off the edge:
- counter back inside
- long-arm rush
On the play above, you’ll see Landry (#7) rushing as the left defensive end (against right tackle). His explosiveness is clear and he does a nice job dropping his shoulder and giving himself the proper angle to create pressure on the quarterback. The quarterback does a nice job avoiding Landry, but if he flatlines at the heels of the offensive tackle, there’s a stronger chance the quarterback crumbles.
On this play, we’ll see Landry (#7) back at the left defensive end position. He’s tilted as a 7-technique and counters inside, which forces the right tackle to lunge toward him. Ultimately, this trips Landry up and takes him off his path to the running back. However, this inside pressure will be displayed by him consistently enough to create positive results on Sundays.
On the play above, we’ll see Landry rushing as a left defensive end again. He doesn’t get the angle on the outside shoulder of the right tackle, so he attempts to long-arm and counter back inside. However, the right tackle displays great lateral movement and Landry tries to rush the outside shoulder again. You’ll even notice him going for the strip sack, but the quarterback steps up into the pocket and avoids the sack. That doesn’t stop Landry, though. His motor continues and he stays with the play, and it still leads to a sack. This is great effort and an overall display of his arsenal of pass rush moves.
While we’re talking about Landry and his motor, let’s take a look at his pursuit. Once again, he’s rushing as the left defensive end but he pursues to the play. With the bubble screen being log jammed on the outside, the flow of the play is forced back inside and Landry is there to meet the receiver with contact. If Landry form-tackles on this play, he’s creating all kinds of noise among his teammates. Still, great pursuit by him and it’s something you want to see out of your players, especially edge rushers.
Rather than rushing from the left side, Landry moves to the top of the screen. This time, he’s the right defensive end, and he plays this read option really well. His first read should be the quarterback, and even though I think he cheats on the play and gets sucked inside, I’ll give him credit for this play. He’s prepared to leverage his gap (you can see with his post step) and then he bends down the line of scrimmage (LOS) and goes directly to the ball carrier. His ability in stopping the run isn’t his biggest strength, but on this play it’s a plus.
Rushing from the left defensive end spot, we’ll see Landry force pressure on the quarterback. Once again, he’s rushing as a basically a wide 9 technique which seems to be a natural fit for him. This time, he long-arms and goes for the strip sack. The pocket collapses on both sides of the quarterback and it leads to an incompletion. For Landry, he consistently does this and it’s a big reason why he had 27 total pressures (via Pro Football Focus).
- Hand usage is far too inconsistent
- Inconsistent leverage against the run
- Needs to improve 1-on-1 strength
- Explosive with limited power
- Doesn’t squeeze down or fight pressure with pressure
- Crosses the face of the offensive tackle against the run – needs to maintain C gap longer/process faster
- Health will be a concern – ankle injury in 2017
One of the biggest weaknesses of Landry’s game has to be hand usage. It’s probably more of a pet peeve for me than his biggest weakness, but just roll with it. Above, you’ll see Landry as the right defensive end and he’s lined up as a 6-technique (over the tight end). As much as I’d like to say he’s a 7-technique (inside shoulder of the tight end), he’s not. His burst off the LOS is slow, but he creates good separation with his post step. But nothing follows it, and that’s a problem. He should be dropping his shoulder or countering back inside. Swatting the offensive tackle’s hands away is always key and, at times, he doesn’t feel the need to do it. Instead, he consistently pushes off the left tackle and it gets him nowhere. Playing “home” against Lamar Jackson is probably a safe bet, but your job is to create pressure and make the quarterback uncomfortable. Not using your hands doesn’t create that pressure or discomfort for the quarterback.
Functional strength for 1-on-1 situations will be an area that Landry has to improve. His burst really gives him the advantage, but not being able to convert speed to power is a big reason why he was so low on the run stopping charts (see below – according to Pro Football Focus). On the play above, you’ll see Landry as the right defensive end. He gets absolutely lit up by the tight end. This forces him off balance and prevents him from maintaining his gap or squeezing any blocks down. He doesn’t get blown up like this every time, but he doesn’t fight pressure with pressure or squeeze blocks down nearly enough. It’s a key area he’ll have to improve if he wants to become more consistent.
I'm watching this over and over and over. Everything about this is right. pic.twitter.com/QGEuxenzrP— Russell Brown (@RussNFLDraft) May 13, 2017
The first player I scouted for the 2018 NFL Draft was none other than Harold Landry. Despite some of his flaws, he’s still one of my favorite players in this draft. I had him ranked as a top-1o prospect going into the week of the Senior Bowl (he didn’t participate), and even after the Combine, he’ll still be a top-15 prospect in this class.
Above, you’ll see the measurements and times for Harold Landry. He really reminds me of a more explosive Derek Barnett and could play in a similar role at the next level. Whether it be with his hand in the dirt or standing up, Landry has the versatility you want out of an edge rusher. Currently, there are three teams that he fits best with, and they are the Indianapolis Colts (6th overall or trade back), Chicago Bears (8th overall) and the Green Bay Packers (14th overall). All three teams could use a player like Landry, and it won’t be surprising to see him get drafted by any of them.
- Maine (2015)
- Florida State (2015 and 2016)
- Louisville (2017)
- Clemson (2017)
- Virginia Tech (2017)
After watching these games, he ended with an overall grade of 5.227 on our grading scale. Landry is far from perfect, but he’s the most explosive edge rusher in this class. He doesn’t convert speed to power as successfully as Bradley Chubb, and his bend isn’t as impressive, either. But with his explosiveness, versatility and ability to corner quarterbacks, he puts himself as the second-best edge rusher in this class.