Jaylon “Sack Daddy” Ferguson – The Heir to Suggs’ Throne?
As every football fan knows, it is rare for a team to find a transcendent talent, a player that performs at the highest level of his craft for years. The Ravens had one such player in Terrell Suggs, one of the best edge rushers in the history of professional football. While teams spend years searching for this kind of talent to anchor a roster, few ever have the chance to replace one Hall of Fame caliber player with another. It’s too early to tell whether or not the Baltimore Ravens will enter the exclusive club, but the Ravens have the chance to replace one transcendent talent with the next. Jaylon Ferguson will attempt to live up to the legacy of his predecessor, Terrell Suggs.
Jaylon Ferguson is no transcendent talent, yet. But the third-round-rookie out of Lousiana Tech has a solid foundation and holds an interesting achievement that sheds light on a very high ceiling of potential. Ferguson holds the record for the most all-time career sacks in NCAA history. The player he beat to break the record? Terrell Suggs.
Not only did the young edge rusher one-up his predecessor in the NCAA, Ferguson is physically larger than Suggs too. Here are his measurables:
- Height – 6’5”
- Weight – 271 lbs
- Arms – 34 1/2”
- Hands – 9 1/8”
Jaylon Ferguson’s 42.5 career sack record is a mark of true dominance. While anyone can look at the stats, and see the insane amount of production on the field, one must observe Ferguson in action to get a full sense of his gridiron domination. When one watches Ferguson play, one will quickly notice his first major advantage: his size. At 6’5″, 271 lbs, Ferguson is a giant. This size, combined with his strength, allowed him to bully offensive tackles, and any other blocker unfortunate enough to be caught in his tracks.
The benefit of this size and strength is clear. Ferguson was able to tailor his physical attributes to create a pass rush strategy that is perfect for him. He molded himself into a power edge rusher. His go-to move in college was the bull-rush, where he planted his hands into the shoulders of a blocker and pushed them backward. Most of the time, these blockers were left helpless once Ferguson got ahold of them, as they were not able to defend themselves with their body like they would against smaller rushers. Ferguson’s size and techniques made way for unprecedented amounts of success in college, but as he transitions to the National Football Leauge, these strengths may yield weaknesses.
Jaylon Ferguson is a power pass rusher, and his development as one stunted his growth as a speed rusher. This is not necessarily a bad thing, as it is always best to be very good in one area, rather than mediocre in all. But for Ferguson, it does mean that he is slow off the edge, and can get outrun by faster opponents. Not only that but Ferguson’s mass prevents him from being agile. One will be hardpressed to find quick lateral moves in his tape. While Ferguson may not need these moves to be the power rusher he is, his limitations may force him to be one dimensional.
As previously mentioned, Ferguson’s go-to pass rush move is the bull rush technique. While it worked tremendously well against collegiate blockers, professional football’s offensive lineman will be bigger, stronger, and more massive, meaning they will be less susceptible to the bull rush. Jaylon Ferguson will have to develop other modes of attack to have a leg up on the competition in the NFL. When one watches his tape, one will notice that Ferguson does, from time to time, use other moves, like using his hands to break a lineman’s block, or pulling the blocker inside before cutting outside, and vice versa. Ferguson will need to work further towards the development of these strategies.
Jaylon Ferguson was one of the most intriguing prospects of this year’s draft class. With record-setting production in college, Ferguson could have been a potential first-round pick. But because of a poor performance at his Pro-Day, where he put up an 8.08-second 3-cone drill, among other underwhelming results, many scouts became concerned about his athletic abilities. But the tape speaks for itself, and the tape shows a talented edge rusher with a high ceiling. But it also shows one that needs a great deal of growth and development.
Prospect Grade – 6.5/10.0
With all things considered, the Baltimore Ravens picked a second-round talent in the third round, making Eric DeCosta’s second-ever draft selection one of great value.
Selection Grade A
Special thanks to Dominic, aka @RavensAnatomy for the graphics used in the video and as the thumbnail!