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Scouting The Draft: Dante Fowler, OLB/DE, Florida

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Today we take a look at possibly the first edge rusher to be drafted come April.

Melina Vastola-USA TODAY Sports

Introduction

Fowler is on the verge of being the top edge rusher taken this April. When you look at the road taken to get to this point, it is no surprise he is in this position. Dante was a 5 star recruit by Rivals.com, coming out of Lakewood High School in St. Petersburg, Florida. Even in high school, Fowler was being compared to greats like Dwight Freeney. He was ranked the 3rd best weakside defensive end in the state of Florida. After first committing to Florida State, Dante changed his mind, and picked Florida instead.

As a true freshman, Fowler played in all 13 games, and played admirably. He was named to the SEC All-Freshmen team. As a sophomore, Fowler lost some weight, and really turned it on. He won several defensive player of the week awards, and was named to the SEC's All-Sophomore team. As a junior, Dante really came into his own. After his 3rd year of increased production, Dante felt he was ready to make the jump to the NFL. His coach, Will Muschamp, also decided to leave the team. I am sure that had a good deal to do with his decision as well.

Measurables

Height: 6'3"

Weight: 261

Class: Junior

Projected 40 Time: 4.60

Stats

Year Tackles TFL Sacks QB Hurries FF
2014 60 15 8.5 17 2
2013 50 10.5 3.5 7 3
2012 30 8.5 2.5 1 0

Positives

  • Great size
  • Can already play standing up or in the dirt
  • Versatile
  • Decent first step
  • Has a powerful and quick inside move
  • Can get leverage and set the edge
  • Has a great motor
  • Well balanced
  • Knows how to take advantage of O-linemen that lunge
  • Very Competitive

Negatives

  • Needs to establish more pass rushing moves
  • Needs to get stronger at the point of attack
  • Unproven in coverage
  • If he doesn't get a favorable first step on the O-linemen, he can be overpowered

Conclusion

On top of an impressive junior season, Fowler looked pretty good at the Combine. He is a strong, competitive pass rusher that can grow into so much more. Even though his sack numbers aren't sky high, his true effectiveness is shown with his QB hurries. We haven't had a dominant edge rusher since John Abraham. The experiment with Quinton Coples at LBer has yet to bear fruit. Bowles loves to rush the QB, which makes filling the edge rusher position a priority. Free agency is also stacked with edge guys who can fill this need, but the draft would be cheaper. When Drew and I made our first mock, Fowler was name not many were talking about at 6. Now he might be gone before we even get a chance to draft him. If he is there, and we didn't splurge on a free agent, I would happily take Fowler at 6 if I were running the Jets

Draft Grade: 95

90-100 = Exceptional Talent

80-90 = Impact Player

70-80 = NFL Starter

60-70 = Solid NFL Potential

50-60 = Draftable - Lot of work needed

>50 = Undraftable, - Long Shot To Stick