As usual, Josh Norris pointed out something interesting to me this week. Norris, NFL Draft writer for Rotoworld.com, and I talk this week about South Carolina defensive end Chaz Sutton (that’s the most interesting part) and the one, yes one, future NFL player on the Kentucky roster this season.
The State: Let’s start by talking about Chaz Sutton. He’s a guy we both like and thought was going to have a breakout season. He hasn’t happened yet. What’s going on and how much might it hurt him?
Josh Norris: We did talk about him quite a bit last year, and we thought he’d see a lot of single blocks (this season), and, if he did well, would free up Jadeveon Clowney. Instead of double-teaming Clowney, which they have been (some), they have basically just been running their offenses toward Sutton. What I have seen just briefly the last few weeks is that his production is a lot better rushing from the inside than it is from the edge. Some might think that is unconventional because he is a DE size, but NFL teams do value lean rushers or any kind of inside pressure. I think that interior pressure, if I was to choose one, I would choose it over edge pressure because it’s much more difficult to block. It can disrupt the entire flow of an offense because the baseline trait for quarterbacks is just to step up in the pocket.
I think since Devin Taylor has been gone, they haven’t been using him as much inside. I do think that he is a much better player from the inside, so that might be where he projects at the next level, but how much is he going to be able to show that. It’ll take a team doing some homework and if he does that in the all-star games later on and maybe that’s a fit. I’m still a fan. I really liked what Clowney did last week along with Victor Hampton in terms of calling out themselves and the rest of the defense for not being tough enough. Hopefully, they (listen) to that.
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The State: This week is Kentucky. I don’t know much about the Wildcats, but I look at their statistics and guess there are not many future NFL players on that roster. Am I right?
Josh Norris: They do not. It’s really just one guy and he wasn’t even on the team last year. It’s Za’Darius Smith, junior defensive end. He usually lines up on the right side so he’s going to go up against the left tackle. JUCO transfer, and he led the nation in sacks the first couple of weeks. I knew nothing about him prior to this year. He was an immediate starter, and he really is a hustle player. He doesn’t have outstanding length, but he shows a little bit of bend around the outside, and he does use his hands. That’s very interesting for a prospect coming from the junior college ranks, where it’s more about athleticism and winning with that than technical skill. He holds up well against the run. It would be pretty bad if for some reason the national media starts saying he outplayed Clowney or Sutton. I don’t expect that, but Za’Darius Smith is definitely somebody on NFL radars, somebody who as emerged this year out of nowhere. Maybe South Carolina will do their own Clowney game planning in terms of running their offense away from that right defensive end spot.