William Gholston Scouting Report: NFL Outlook for Michigan State DE

Wes StueveContributor IIIApril 19, 2013

EAST LANSING, MI - NOVEMBER 03: William Gholston #2 of the Michigan State Spartans reacts after a second quarter third down stop while playing the Nebraska Cornhuskers at Spartan Stadium Stadium on November 3, 2012 in East Lansing, Michigan. (Photo by Gregory Shamus/Getty Images)
Gregory Shamus/Getty Images

William Gholston

Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Fourth Round, 126th Pick

Before the 2012 season, William Gholston was a big-name prospect, often projected in the first round of mock drafts. As the 2013 NFL draft has drawn closer, though, Gholston's stock has fallen.

The cousin of infamous bust Vernon, Gholston is physically talented but may not be the complete package. Like most big, athletic players, Gholston has upside. Unfortunately, though, he also has at least equal downside.


At 6'6", 281 pounds, Gholston is a big player with the frame to add more weight. He's a solid athlete, as well, and he's faster than his 4.96 40-yard-dash time suggests. At times, Gholstondemonstrates great power, shoving offensive linemen into the backfield. His ability to shoot the interior gap even when playing outside is also impressive.



Though he is capable of playing with power, Gholston's lack of technique often hinders him. He stands straight up upon the snap, surrendering leverage to the offensive lineman, which is often costly in the run game. Gholston also commits to the pass rush too early, often losing containment. 

Gholston isn't a great pass-rusher, either. He lacks the burst, bend and pass-rush repertoire to make much of an impact there. In fact, Gholston's lack of ability against the pass likely limits him to playing the 5-technique position in a 3-4 defense.



From a pure size perspective, Gholston's 6'6", 281-pound frame and 34" arms make him one of the more impressive players in this draft. The Michigan State product plays both faster and stronger than his 4.96 40-yard dash and 23 bench reps of 225 pounds.



In 2011, Gholston was suspended one game for punching Michigan offensive tackle TaylorLewan. Besides that solitary incident, however, Gholston has stayed out of trouble and has been touted as a hard worker off the field. On the field, though, Gholston doesn't always seem to play with passion, and his motor is a bit of a concern.



At Michigan State, Gholston played defensive end in a 4-3 defense, though the team would occasionally use three-man defensive lines. Rarely, Gholston would stand up and rush from the outside.


Pass Rush

Gholston's best play as a pass-rusher is utilizing his length and power. When he gets some momentum behind him and plays low—something he often fails to do—Gholston can overpower guards and tackles alike, sometimes shoving the linemen right into the quarterback. Only his inconsistent technique keeps Gholston from doing so more often. 

Gholston is also adept at shooting the gap and using his considerable upper-body strength to disengage from guards. On the whole, though, this doesn't result in many sacks.

Though Gholston has shown ability to rush from the inside, he is not an edge-rusher. Gholston's lack of burst is a major issue—his first step is below-average—and he isn't smooth rushing the passer either. Some 280-pounders are quick enough to bend the edge, but Gholston is not one of them. He's stiff-hipped and struggles to get around offensive tackles.

Aside from a decent spin move, Gholston lacks a pass-rush move that can work on the outside.Gholston's lack of intensity against the pass doesn't help either, as he often gives up on plays early. His lack of closing speed doesn't help. If Gholston is going to provide much of a pass rush in the NFL, it likely won't come from the outside. 


Against the Run

Despite his size, Gholston isn't overly impressive against the run. Often, Gholston commits to rushing the passer and loses contain against the run as he seeks the quarterback. His tendency to play high is disastrous and often results in him being blown off the ball. When he doesn't surrender leverage, though, Gholston utilizes a solid combination of strength and quickness to attack the backfield. He often works his way inside from defensive end, attacking the interior gaps.

If he can be taught to play lower, Gholston could be a solid player here. A little more weight wouldn't hurt either, but Gholston has the natural strength and quickness to be a legitimate factor against the run.



Gholston is big and strong, so he is essentially able to just bear hug ball-carriers. His long arms also provide a service here, as he is able to reach out and wrap up runners even as they attempt to blow by. This is not a problem area for Gholston.


Use of Hands

Gholston doesn't possess particularly quick or active hands. However, his hands are fairly powerful and can pack a punch, knocking opposing offensive linemen off balance. He needs to improve at using his hands to rip away from blockers and shred blocks. 


Scheme Versatility/Future Role

It's unlikely that a team running a 4-3 defense will be interested in Gholston. He doesn't have the pass-rushing upside to stick at defensive end in a 4-3, and he is too weak against the run to bulk up and play defensive tackle.

In a 3-4 scheme, Gholston is a developmental 5-tech. He still needs to gain weight and improve at using leverage, but he is athletic and strong enough to be a fit there. His arm length is also a valuable asset there.