Over the past month or so, we’ve been taking an in-depth look at each of the Jets’ rookies. We’re now looking at the undrafted free agents, continuing today with edge defender Hamilcar Rashed.
The 23-year old Rashed is listed at 6’2” and 251 pounds and was undrafted out of Oregon State. In four years with the Beavers, Rashed had 144 tackles, 37 tackles for loss and 16.5 sacks. He was projected as a potential high pick after a monster 2019 season, but his stock fell after a rough 2020 campaign.
Rashed was a three-star high school recruit after a senior year that saw him rack up 13 sacks. In his junior year, he had put up some gaudy numbers, including 10 sacks in one game.
He decided to red-shirt his first season at Oregon State and then had six tackles in 12 games in a special teams role as a red-shirt freshman in 2017. On defense he only played eight snaps and had two missed tackles though.
In 2018, he moved into the lineup, starting 10 of 12 games and recording 53 tackles, 12.5 tackles for loss and 2.5 sacks.
However, 2019 was when he broke out for real, leading the nation in tackles for loss (22.5) and the Pac-12 in sacks (14). He also added a career-best 62 tackles and was voted as an all-American and Pac-12 first-teamer.
There was some buzz suggesting Rashed was a potential first round pick, but it fell off in 2020 after he failed to register a single sack. He did start every game for the first time in his career and was still a Pac-12 honorable mention but ended up with 37 tackles and just two tackles for loss in the shortened seven game season.
Rashed was invited to the senior bowl and did well, then put together a solid pro day workout. However, it wasn’t enough to restore his falling stock and the Jets were able to sign him to a basic undrafted free agent contract after the draft.
Now let’s take a look at what Rashed brings to the table, divided into categories.
Rashed was a little undersized for most of his career but has bulked up to a decent size. He also has a long wingspan.
He posted good speed and explosiveness numbers at his pro day, including a 4.62 in the 40-yard dash and 128” broad jump, but poor agility numbers and that reflects what you’ll see from him on film. He showed decent strength with a solid 25 reps in the bench press.
Rashed played as a 3-4 outside linebacker during his career with the Beavers, hardly ever putting his hand in the dirt. He didn’t drop into coverage very often and rarely played off the ball.
In high school, he played defensive end, tight end and wide receiver early on before deciding to focus on the outside linebacker position.
Rashed works hard in the trenches and plays to the whistle, but his effort levels were called into question in 2020 as his pressure numbers were low. This may have more to do with injuries and technique though.
Here’s an example of a play where he was initially blocked upfield but kept working and ended up getting a sack.
He’s handled a starter’s workload in the past although there were also games where he was rotated out a lot.
Rashed turned heads with his 14 sack season in 2019, although this might be seen as a bit of an anomaly. His pressure numbers have never been particularly high, even in that season, but he did a good job of finishing when he got to the quarterback.
It’s fair to say that he did a lot of his damage cleaning up, but he still had some success winning one on one matchups. He shows a good get-off as he anticipates the snap count here.
He also has an ability to bring some power, getting his man to backpedal here and then getting off the block with a strong move.
The concern, however, is that he doesn’t have what it takes to beat top-level tackles or deal with extra attention. This was exposed in his 2020 season, as it seemed too easy to repel him with an initial punch and he lacked the flexibility to bend the edge or any kind of plan to transition to a secondary move.
Rashed does a solid job against the run, even during his disappointing 2020 season. He can shoot a gap, fight off blocks and is at his absolute best when chasing plays down from the backside.
He can get sealed off and blocked out of plays sometimes, as you can see on this play (although it’s strictly speaking a pass play).
Rashed shows some signs of development in terms of technical pass rush moves. Here’s an excellent bull-jerk move to get past the tackle.
However, there’s still a lot of rawness to him. Although he gets the sack here, his spin move is woefully timed and he manages to beat the tackle more by confusing him than winning any kind of leverage advantage.
Rashed was an excellent special teams contributor for the Beavers although his role reduced over the last two years. His biggest play was this blocked punt that was eventually returned for a touchdown.
He generally uses his hands pretty well, and can be effective if he gets the first punch in at the chest. On this play, he keeps the tackle’s hands off him and rips through but even this isn’t an entirely smooth transition.
He plays with a narrow base at times but can also show some good technique against the run, keeping his pad level low, shedding blocks and displaying a good swim move to get into the backfield here.
Rashed has been a productive tackler and can hit hard when crashing down against the run or closing on the quarterback. He had three forced fumbles with the Beavers.
However, his lack of lateral agility can lead to him missing tackles because he can’t react to cutbacks in the running game or turn the corner sharply off the edge. He had 27 missed tackles in 28 starts in college.
Rashed hasn’t been employed much in coverage and it’s only been close to the line of scrimmage when he has been. At times he’s dropped off to make tackles on short passes, but he was blocked out on a screen pass that went for a 26-yard score.
He’s shown some ability to get his hands up and defend passes with five batted down at the line of scrimmage during his career. He also deflected this pass for an interception.
Rashed’s coaches said he had a good understanding of their defense, but he can be late to react sometimes and probably needs to develop a better approach to become more effective at generating pressure.
He can make some quick reads to burst into the backfield, but obviously didn’t show much of that in 2020. He makes a good read here to drop off and stop a screen pass though.
He covered kicks in his first two seasons, racking up 13 tackles and lining up as a guard on the punt team. He also blocked on the kick return unit.
Rashed mostly just played field goal defense over the last two seasons and rushed punts sometimes. He did have a few missed tackles and five penalties, including one for roughing the kicker, during his career.
Rashed had low grades in high school, but developed a hard work ethic at the college level and became a vocal leader for the Beavers.
He’s a confident player who said he was the best pass rusher in the draft and didn’t regret the decision to return for his senior year even though it hurt his draft stock but he’ll definitely have a chip on his shoulder.
His on-field discipline wasn’t too bad with only three defensive penalties in his career - two personal fouls and an offside penalty near the goal line.
Off the field he’s been passionate about doing charitable work in the community.
While Rashed was criticized for his production and effort during the 2020 season, his coaches defended him as they revealed he’d been slowed by injury issues all year.
He broke his thumb at the end of the 2019 season, an issue that affected him into the spring. He then had to deal with an ankle issue at the beginning of the season, and then re-injured it during the season.
With Rashed not having played with his hand in the dirt in college and the Jets operating a 4-3 scheme, there was some thought that perhaps Rashed would play as a strongside linebacker. However, he told the media during the offseason that the Jets plan to have him rushing off the edge.
He won’t necessarily have to play with his hand in the dirt. Dee Ford often stood up on the edge in Robert Saleh’s system.
Rashed was a teammate of his fellow undrafted rookie Isaiah Dunn while at Oregon State.
Rashed is one of the most interest acquisitions of the offseason because it’s difficult to predict whether he’ll push to contribute or struggle to make an impact. Is he the all-American from 2019 or the disappointment from 2020?
Based on Rashed’s film, it seems like he was being overrated somewhat by those who saw him as a potential first round pick on the basis of his production. However, could relegating him to undrafted status be an over-correction?
What’s apparent from his film - and probably would have seen his stock fall anyway if he came out after the 2019 season - is that his straight line speed and explosiveness are good weapons but his stiff hips prevent him from having the flexibility or lateral mobility to become an elite prospect. However, maybe being in an attacking defense will mask these limitations.
It seemed like good tackles handled Rashed pretty easily once they figured him out, limiting his effectiveness in a full-time role, but he could perhaps still produce bringing some energy off the bench in a situational role. In addition, he’s always shown promise as a run defender, although once again might be a better fit as a strongside linebacker than on the defensive line.
The bad news for Rashed is that the Jets have built some decent depth on the defensive line so it will be tough for him to see the field this year. However, he’s got some good mentors ahead of him so hopefully he can develop and impress the coaches enough to remain in the team’s plans. His special teams potential alone gives him an outside chance at a roster spot.