Dee Ford, OLB, Auburn (HT: 6'2"; WT: 252 lbs)
First Round: 23rd Pick
NFL Comparison: Sio Moore, OLB, Oakland Raiders
+ Possesses pure speed to rush around the corner
+ Strong, violent hands
+ Hits with loads of power when he gets to the quarterback
+ Plays with a fiery attitude
+ Wears down tackles as games go on
- Linear athlete with some tightness to him
- Needs to diversify his pass-rush moves
- Doesn't hold his ground against run blocks or play contain well
- Often plagued by niggling injuries
|6020||252||32 7/8"||10 1/4"|
|40-yd dash||10-yd split||Vert||Broad||3-Cone||Shuttle|
Dee Ford is far from the biggest edge-rushing prospect around. His height and arm length fall short of other first-round-quality rushers and are a legitimate limitation. Outside of that, Ford is a sculpted athlete who will hold his own physically in the NFL.
Ford's game centers on natural athleticism. That all comes from a powerful, explosive lower body. He has the type of first-step quickness needed in an effective rusher. Ford can get to top speed quickly and use that speed on the edge. He blew by many a slow-footed tackle in his final season at Auburn.
Moving in straight lines, such as rushing around the corner with speed, is where Ford is most comfortable. He's not overly nimble or flexible in space, struggling to change directions quickly. That paints a clear picture of how he needs to be used.
All signs point to Dee Ford being one of the hardest workers in the draft class. His crafted body type and style of play are further proof of his work ethic and overall energy level for the game of football.
His competitive nature borders on arrogance, but not in a way that should be a knock against him. On the contrary, his confidence and attitude are positive traits.
Rushing the passer is Dee Ford's specialty, and it will always be. That means this section of his scouting report dwarfs the others in terms of importance. Obviously his speed and quick first step pay dividends around the corner. Ford's ability to get to the quarterback in more than one way came around as a senior.
One of his traits that shows up no matter what type of move he puts on is a dogged pursuit of the quarterback. He leaves it all on the table. If he can get just a step on a pass-blocker, he's able to ward off their hands and finish at all costs.
Speed and effort alone won't do the trick in the NFL. That's where Dee Ford's power comes in. He actually didn't utilize it enough in 2013. Even so, the flashes of it should be enough to encourage the belief that his speed-to-power can become a full-time countermove to his circle rush.
Ford's power to compress the pocket showed through against Texas A&M, which has a quarterback whom opponents scheme to keep in the pocket. Ford has the right tackle Cedric Ogbuehi isolated on the outside, as he often did in this game:
After coming off the ball as if to speed rush around the corner, Ford turns straight towards the tackle. Ogbuehi must drop his hands in order to get greater depth and slide to match Ford's speed. Notice the difference in hand position between Ford and Ogbuehi:
There are two reasons Ford wins with power on this occasion. The first is that he has leverage on the tackle with low pad level. The second is that he is able to fire his hands first and control the blocker.
Ford's fine gap discipline in rush lanes showed up numerous times against Texas A&M, and his overall awareness level shows up elsewhere too.
Most of Dee Ford's biggest issues pop up in run defense, especially when opponents run right at him. He doesn't posses the type of strength to stand up an offensive tackle at the line of scrimmage. Tight ends have even given him fits on occasion. However, the bigger issue is a lack of shed ability with his hands. Ford is too easily hung up on blocks, unable to appropriately control his gaps. For those reasons, his struggles to set the edge show up repeatedly.
Remembering that this isn't what a team will draft Ford to do is important. He is a pass-rusher first and foremost. Lots of edge players succeed in the NFL without being great run defenders.
Projecting whether or not Dee Ford can stay healthy is very important for how teams see him fitting into their plans. He was held out of combine drills due to concerns over surgery for a herniated disc in 2011. Ford also showed signs wear and tear at different points during his senior season. He missed the first two games after spraining his knee and struggled with it upon return.
His past issues could be a sign of things to come. They could also be a random occurrence. Teams will have looked deeply into that.
The first thought that comes to mind for Dee Ford is that he brings lots of value as a sub-package player. That isn't as bad as it sounds. Passing downs are becoming more and more frequent, so having a player you can rotate in who can terrorize tackles on the edge can be very valuable.
As far as schemes go, Ford has value in both a 3-4 and 4-3. He has experience playing from two- and three-point stances. He has also shown effectiveness doing both. Ford will likely have the greatest effect from a wider alignment, where his speed and countermoves can be put to greatest use.