This week, Rotoworld.com NFL Draft writer Josh Norris and I discuss what makes Florida defensive lineman Dante Fowler Jr. so dangerous, and how the Gators are likely to use him against the Gamecocks. We also talk about one of the weirdest stories in the SEC this season and what the NFL might think about it.
The State: Florida’s defense starts with defensive end Dante Fowler up front doesn’t it?
Josh Norris: It does. Fowler is someone when you first talk about him is you talk about his technique. He wins and he does well when he uses his hands, uses his length, he uses that separation to keep that distance he wants and to attack blockers. One game your readers might want to check out is against Alabama. In that game, he actually showed some athleticism, some lateral mobility, some lateral movement. One thing about Fowler is he is not a one-trick pony rusher. We always see that at the college level, let’s say with the Missouri outside rushers we talked about who always use an outside rip move to kind of just work around the pocket. Some other guys just use their speed rush. Fowler is someone who loves to mix it up, loves to set someone up with an outside/inside move, converts speed to power. And he doesn’t just stay to the left side. They have moved him around a lot more this year. He has dropped weight each year it seems every year he has been at Florida. You’re going to see him over the top of the left tackle, you’re going to see him over the top of the right tackle. You can even see him drop into coverage or blitz from the A of the B gap. So, No. 6, expect to see a lot of him. If you want a pro comparison, he’s kind of like Chandler Jones who went to Syracuse and left early and was a first round pick for the Patriots, but with a piano dropped on his head. He’s a stouter, shorter version but still has the length you want at the position.
The State: So he’s a guy who will make life tough on Dylan Thompson, who when he has struggled has struggled because he’s gotten pressure.
Josh Norris: With defensive linemen, it depends on how much they are on the field because there is not as much rotation on the college level, but typically Fowler is someone who does have a very good motor, who does chase down plays, does use a lot of counter moves. This defense is not as talented in that front four as we have seen in the past with some very good prospects like we have seen in the past, but Fowler is the one to watch on this team.
The State: The Leon Orr situation is fascinating situation to me because I have never heard of anything like that before. Orr is the former Florida defensive lineman who left the locker room before last week’s Vanderbilt game when he learned he was not starting. Orr caught a bus home and was dismissed by the Gators. I’m of the belief that there are enough NFL teams who will take anybody if they think he can play, but what Orr did is so out there, does that eliminate him from draft consideration?
Josh Norris: It’s a very unique situation. Let me start by saying, it won’t impact my evaluation of Orr because I don’t have that kind of information on everybody, that kind of behind the scenes character stuff. But with Orr, I do think he’s going to get a shot no matter what. The question is, do teams who overvalue draft picks even want to invest a fifth-, sixth- or seventh-round pick on someone who just left his team just because he wasn’t going to be a starter. These scouts go to these schools and the best information they get is from the coaches and the staff members on the team. Mabye Orr will get a favorable evaluation from (Gators coach Will Muschamp), maybe he won’t. I think that will be very telling.