— Austin Gayle (@AustinGayle_PFF) October 31, 2017
Harold Landry (#7), senior defensive end for Boston College
Estimated measurements: height-6021, weight-250
Age on September 1st: 22 years old
Games studied: vs Notre Dame (Game 3), @ Clemson (Game 4), vs Virginia Tech (Game 6), @ Louisville (Game 7)
Run Defense: Ability to keep outside shoulder clean and reset the line of scrimmage
Landry is a fundamental run defender. Outside of a few plays, Landry does a great job of keeping his outside shoulder clean. He also did well stepping down with his shoulders squared when unblocked and attacking the inside shoulder of pulling, folding and slicing blockers. Against Clemson specifically, he put on a clinic on how to handle pulling, folding and slicing blockers. Against Notre Dame, he specifically did well handling reach blocks and sinking into the backfield. Against Louisville, he was questionable at taking on pulling linemen, but he fixed the issue mid-game.
He’s not going to be great about re-sinking and regaining leverage when he’s in a bad position. With that in mind, he wins with his first step enough and plays fundamentally enough that run defense shouldn’t be an issue at an NFL level. His biggest positives in this area will be on zone plays or plays when he’s momentarily unblocked (read man on option, kickout man) and can flash his athleticism.
First Step: Ability to win with first step
You can’t talk about Harold Landry’s season without mentioning injury. Against Notre Dame, he was used as a rotational player after the first drive, mostly playing third downs. The coaching staff said they did so to keep him “fresh,” but that doesn’t pass the sniff test. Against Virginia Tech, he came off the field with an ankle injury. In mid-season games, like against Louisville, he was clearly a shell of himself. By the end of the year, he missed a chunk of playing time as an injury inactive.
When Landry was healthy, he clearly had a good first step that should translate well at the NFL level. Most of his game is built around winning with his first step. Landry’s Senior Bowl week, combine week and medical evaluations will clear up these questions.
Pass Rushing: Effort displayed and variety of techniques used as a pass-rusher
Against Louisville, Boston College clearly wanted to “mush rush” quarterback Lamar Jackson. Outside of that game, Landry did well as a pass-rusher. With his first step and ability to bend, it’s natural that his speedy dip-and-rip move is his go-to tool in his belt. He rushed from 4-3 defensive end (both sides) and 3-4 outside linebacker (both sides) and even dropped into coverage often on third down.
He doesn’t fair well stunting to the inside, but he’s more of a traditional pass-rusher anyway. His pass-rushing skills should translate better to defensive end (where you usually lineup in the C-gap and rush the C-gap) than the more versatile 3-4 outside linebacker position. Against Clemson and Virginia Tech, he used a long arm move several times. It seems to come and go, but that’s clearly his inside counter of choice at the moment.
Fluidity: General ability to bend the corner and make plays in space
Even when Landry played though an injury, his hips were never an issue. He made several plays in space against Louisville, which even featured him sticking his foot in the dirt and tackling Lamar Jackson. While he didn’t line up against Mike McGlinchey often when he faced Notre Dame, he was a step away from getting home (by bending around the corner) all game.
He does miss some tackles, but it’s not because his hips and feet aren’t getting him to the right spots. In that way, he is similar to Vic Beasley coming out of Clemson. Bend is a premium trait for him.
When Landry was healthy, it was hard to find a flaw in his game. Still, there are some questions moving forward about why Boston College held him back against Notre Dame and the status of his ankle. At this point, he’s a fluid pass-rusher who has a good first step and is a fundamental run defender, though not dominant at the point of attack. He also knows how to win with what he has as a pass-rusher.
On most NFL teams, he would be an immediate starting pass-rusher or at worst a third pass-rusher who would be heavily rotated in. Think 2017 Derek Barnett on the Philadelphia Eagles. His pure pass-rushing skills translate better to 4-3 defensive end at the moment, but he plays comfortable (outside of stunts) at 3-4 outside linebacker also. With his first step and flexibility, there’s no reason why he couldn’t improve throughout his career.