If the NFL Draft was purely based on college production, Jaylon Ferguson might be the top pick. Last season for Louisiana Tech, Ferguson racked up 17.5 sacks and finished his career as the all-time sack leader in school history.
Of course, Ferguson went to a smaller school, playing against weaker competition than most of the prospects in the range he will go in. However, we have seen a ton of these guys translate their success to the next level.
The most recent example in the NFL would be Baltimore’s Matt Judon. Like Ferguson, he went to a lesser-known school but posted elite pass rushing production. Despite recording 21 sacks, Judon fell to the 5th Round. Now, he is well on his way to becoming one of the better pass rushers in the NFL.
Last season, we saw the rival Saints give up their first, a 2019 first, and a fifth to land Marcus Davenport 14th overall, a pass rusher out of the University of Texas-San Antonio, who they viewed as the missing piece to their defensive unit. Jaylon Ferguson could be “that guy” for Atlanta.
Ferguson should not fall as low as Judon did but could be drafted much later than Davenport. The lack of competition, as well as his off-field issues, may cause him to go late enough to be an outstanding value. Jaylon was actually disinvited from the NFL Combine. This likely stems from a battery charge he received as a freshman in an incident at a McDonald’s, as well as a public intoxication charge. So there is definitely a risk to go along with taking him.
The 6’5″, 271-pound defensive end could prove to be a steal for the Falcons in the second round, aiding their pass rush woes. His pass rushing ability comes naturally, but he is also an instinctive football player that does his job setting the edge against the run. The size is clearly not an issue, either, though some people think he may have gotten a little too big last season.
While the off-the-field issues could turn Thomas Dimitroff and company off, there is no denying Ferguson’s ability to get to the QB makes him a perfect fit for the Falcons, and a potential game-changing piece that could alter the dynamic of the entire defense. In today’s NFC South, with Jameis Winston, Drew Brees, and Cam Newton throwing the rock, putting pressure on the QB is a must. Ferguson does just that. The icing on the cake would be getting him in the second round, which is a realistic possibility.
Let’s take a look at the tape: