Rotoworld.com NFL Draft writer Josh Norris joined us this week to talk about Clemson defensive end Vic Beasley, and how South Carolina might try to keep him out of Dylan Thompson’s way. A word of warning, Norris compared Beasley to former South Carolina defensive end Jadeveon Clowney. Calm down, he didn’t say he was as good as Clowney, just there have been some similarities between Beasley’s 2014 and Clowney’s 2013 seasons.
The State: Josh, everybody knows it’s Clemson week, but I’m not sure that they realize how much better the Tigers defense has gotten. It starts up front for the Clemson defense, and that defensive line starts with who?
Josh Norris: It starts with Vic Beasley. In recent years, we’ve only talked about how good this Clemson offense is. They have produced two, well really three, really good receivers in the NFL at varying levels and a very good running back and even some offensive linemen. On defense, that hasn’t been their calling card, but it really is now. Vic Beasley is a tremendous athlete on the edge. He has plenty of burst and plenty of bend, so if you overextend against him on the edge and turn into a waist-bender and are heavy footed then he is going to beat you just with the speed rush. If he beats you that way a few times then you’ll see him take an outside step and work back inside. Some have really criticized Vic Beasley this year, and I think that’s not exactly fair. We talked last year all the time about how teams were game-planning against Jadeveon Clowney. They were running their offense away from him or using multiple blockers. I’m not saying it’s to that degree, but I am saying that is happening this year with Vic Beasley. When you see him beat his first man, there is usually a second one waiting. Sometimes that second one is an offensive guard. A lot of times it’s a running back in pass protection, so I guess Brandon Wilds and Mike Davis are going to have to pass protect a lot more in this game. What you might see is a more loaded set to one side and just try to load up so they get one-on-one matchups out there. I think Beasley is a tremendous talent. He is going to test amazingly well. I think he’s going to be a first round pick. Who knows at this time of year, but he really does some things well. He forces things back inside. That’s when you see Grady Jarrett or even Corey Crawford if he’s going to play finish the plays that Vic Beasley starts off.
The State: Who else on that Clemson defense is going to pick up the slack if Beasley gets a lot of attention?
Josh Norris: I think it is Jarrett, the defensive tackle and then Corey Crawford, who is very long. He has plenty of length and let’s say if teams are rolling to the opposite side of Beasley, that’s where teams can attack. We always talk about how disruption is production and how when any edge rusher forces the quarterback to climb the pocket and someone else gets credit for the sack of the hurry. It really is critical to push the interior of the pocket when you have such a great edge rusher. And something to watch with Beasley is just his array of moves. He can win with the speed rush, but can he use that inside arm bar or do you see him moving inside and working inside at all? As long as he shows a variety of moves or the ability to win in multiple ways, I think he’s going to be perfectly fine no matter what attention they give him.