Montez Sweat – The Heavy Producer
Montez Sweat is a prospect that has soared up many draft boards over the last few weeks. Sweat was a dominant edge rusher at Mississippi State and solidified himself as one of the best athletes of the 2019 draft class at the NFL Combine. His combination of size, strength, and speed is rare, and his athletic talents could be once in a generational. Yet while Sweat has all the perfect measurables, he seems like a raw prospect that needs to be refined at the next level. In this prospect review, we will take a look at Sweat’s strengths and weaknesses, and try to predict how he will fair in the NFL and potentially with the Baltimore Ravens.
Here are his combine stats:
- Height – 6’6″
- Weight – 260 lbs
- Arm Length – 35 3/4″
- Hand Size 10 1/2″
- 40 Yard Dash – 4.41 s
- Bench Press Reps (225 lbs) – 21 reps
- Vertical Jump – 36.0″
- Broad Jump – 125.0″
- 3 Cone Drill – 7.0 s
- 20 Yard Shuttle – 4.29 s
Montez Sweat is a physical specimen with measurables that chart at the top of NFL scout wishlists. Sweat is ginormous. Sweat is six feet and six inches tall. He towers over most players on the field. At 260 lbs, Sweat should have enough weight to bully blockers and keep agile. The 21 bench press reps he completed at the NFL Combine is not great, but still is acceptable for his position. The most notable number from his combine performance is the 4.41 s 40-yard dash. The speed Montez Sweat proved he posses is invaluable. It should allow him to escape from blockers before they can make contact. There is no denying that Montez Sweat put up impressive numbers at the NFL Combine, but most talent evaluators will tell you that value is not all found in the physical abilities. Montez Sweat needs to be a productive pass rusher, and a productive pass rusher he is.
Montez Sweat was a dominant pass rusher in a difficult conference. In the SEC, Sweat was constantly paired up against top college tackles. While Sweat was challenged, he managed to see great amounts of success. In his two years at Mississippi State (he transferred from Michigan State, and only played one game there.), Montez Sweat recorded two double-digit sack seasons. In 2017, he notched 10.5 sacks along with 15.5 tackles for loss and 48 total tackles. In 2018, he brought down opposing quarterbacks 12 times, made 14.5 tackles for loss, and recorded 53 total tackles. One can take these numbers to calculate his production ratio. The production ratio is calculated by taking the sack total plus the total tackles for loss and dividing the sum by the total number of games played. His production ratio is an impressive 2.02. (Anything above 1.0 is considered good).
This number shows how well Montez Sweat produced in college. For reference, we can look at the 2014 NFL Draft. This draft only took place five years ago, so it is recent and provides a good sample as we can compare Sweat with players who played up to five years in the NFL. Of that draft class, pass rushers with a production ratio of 2.0 or higher included Khalil Mack, Anthony Barr, and DeMarcus Lawrence. It is worth noting that Jadeveon Clowney and Aaron Donald came close to a 2.0 grade, with 1.92 and 1.87 respectively. Montez Sweat is in good company, to say the least.
But where Montez Sweat falls off is in his explosion number statistic. An explosion number is calculated by taking the defensive front seven player or offensive lineman’s bench press reps, vertical jump in inches, and broad jump in feet, and adding them all together. When doing this for Montez Sweat, we find that he only scores 67.417. A good score is typically a 70.0 or above. Sweat comes close but does not cross the threshold to be considered an explosive pass rusher.
Information on both the production ratio and the explosion number can be found in Pat Kirwan’s book, “Take Your Eye Off the Ball 2.0.”
It is also worth noting, that while watching Sweat’s game tape, it was apparent that he could make big plays, and also tracked down running backs very well.
You may be skeptical of my use of the explosion number and production ratio calculations, but I think it is worth noting. The effects of a low explosion number seem to be evident in the game tape I watched. While Montez Sweat showed off his speed with a 4.41 s 40-yard dash at the NFL Combine, it seems like he plays a lot slower than his top speed. He does not have a very quick get off the line and often looks like he is trying to build up momentum to move. This might be a symptom of his massive combination of height and weight. He simply has more mass to pull around than other pass rushers, so it makes sense that he may be slow at times.
With this initial slowness comes his lack of ability to make quick lateral adjustments in direction. Montez Sweat often looks like he is running in a circular pattern when changing directions in the pocket. He often is forced to go on the outside of the offensive linemen to make a turn. He did show off that he can make a tight spin, but most of the time he makes wide swings to change direction. His lack of lateral quickness was also evident at the Combine. He slipped while trying to make a quick change in direction. Again, this is probably because he is so massive, it is difficult for him to stop on a dime.
Montez Sweat often fails to get off of blocks as well. He is inconsistent in his moves. It does not seem that he ever bull rushes offensive linemen, pushing them back into the pocket. This is really a shame because if Sweat was just a little stronger, his size would enable him to do this. Sweat also tries to use his arms to get off linemen but often gets held up in this scenario. Sweat’s best finesse move is his head bop, which he uses to indicate movement in one direction before he goes the other way. Offensive linemen typically bite this, which allows him to take a shot at the quarterback.
Finally, a weakness for his potential fit on the Ravens is that Sweat played as a defensive lineman in a 4-3 scheme. If drafted by Baltimore, he would need to convert to outside linebacker in a 3-4 scheme. This may seem insignificant, but many players have problems moving from one stance to the next. Sweat always played with his hand in the dirt, the Ravens would ask him to stand up. It changes the dynamics of how he gets off the line. Maybe it would make it easier for him to speed up quickly, but the Ravens should talk to him first before assuming he would willingly convert to outside linebacker.
Montez Sweat is one of the most intriguing prospects in this year’s NFL Draft. He has rare size and the ability for a pass rusher and produced extremely well at the collegiate level. However, there still are concerns about Sweat. He looks raw on tape and lacks crucial ability to move quickly, probably a side effect of his size. I believe that Montez Sweat will be a good but not great player at the NFL level. He will consistently put up 6-7 sack years, but never become a superstar at the position. The Ravens will need to determine whether or not they need a player that can be a superstar in the first round. If Baltimore wants a reliable player, after talking to him about converting to outside linebacker, then the Ravens can’t go wrong with drafting Sweat at 22. The likelihood he falls to the 22nd pick is low, however. Most analysts now believe that Sweat will be picked in the top 16 or top 10 picks of the draft. However, I am sticking to my guns, and giving Montez Sweat a 7.5, a late first round pick grade.
Grade: 7.5/10.0 – Late-First Round Talent
NFL Comparison: Jadeveon Clowney
Very similar size and measurables.
Should the Baltimore Ravens Draft Montez Sweat?
The Baltimore Ravens should only draft Montez Sweat if they talk to him and decide that a transition to outside linebacker in a 3-4 scheme would be successful and beneficial to Sweat. If the Ravens have no indication that it would be, then Baltimore should not take a gamble in the first round on converting a 4-3 defensive end to fit their scheme. Baltimore should also be comfortable in getting a good but not great player at the position in the draft.