Mike Mayock held a conference call today and discussed a variety of players and teams. Here is something he said in regard to the Eagles.
Mayock brought up Auburn defensive end Dee Ford on multiple occasions on the conference call as a potential impact pass rusher at the next level and finds him to be a potential fit with the Philadelphia Eagles. “He doesn’t have as much length as you might like,” Mayock said. “He’s a guy with some real edge burst, and a guy who can fit what the Eagles do.”
We’ve talked a bit about Dee Ford, but he’s worth discussing again. Could he be a target at 22?
Ford is 6021, 243. That means he is 6-2 1/8 and 243 pounds. Chip Kelly would prefer a bigger pass rusher, but that size might be acceptable for the rush linebacker. Ford would generally play on the right side and there are plenty of guys in the 6-2, 250 range who have been successful in that spot. Trent Cole currently has the job and goes about 6-2, 260.
Ford has 10-inch hands. Those are big. Compare that to Marcus Smith who is 6-4. His hands are 9 5/8. Hand size can matter in football. Pass rushers want to get their hands on blockers and either drive them back or get them going in a particular direction. Just imagine putting your hand in someone’s chest and trying to push them. The bigger the hand, the easier it is to get force in the push.
Ford has pretty good arm length (32 3/4). That helps him make up for the lack of height because he’s able to get those big hands on the blocker quicker. He wants to be able to extend his arms and keep the blocker off him. The shorter the arms, the closer the rusher has to get to the blocker and that puts the defensive player at a disadvantage.
So while Ford lacks ideal height, his big hands and pretty long arms help him to make up for some of that.
Let’s check out Ford as a pass rusher.
You can see that he is a versatile pass rusher. Ford rushes from out wide, lined up directly over the OT or sometimes even standing up. He isn’t a guy that must do the same thing over and over. Beyond how/where he lines up, Ford is versatile with his mode of attack. He uses a quick burst and speed rush as his base move. He also will bull rush at times. This is where Ford can be so crazy to watch on some plays. Even though he is just 243 pounds, Ford will get his hand in the chest of a blocker and move him backward. That is tremendous strength.
One of the things I like most about Ford is that he can play under control. Some speed rushers fly off the ball at 100 mph on every play. Ford does that on some plays, but there are others when he’ll adjust his path to the QB or he’ll read a run play and go for the RB. Trent Cole does a good job of this and it helps him be a good run defender.
Ford has a really good shoulder dip that makes his speed rush effective. He’s able to get under the pads of the blocker. Ford also flattens out well when he turns the corner. That makes getting to the QB easier. Rushers who round their path are easier to block. The OT can just ride then wide and deep. Rushers that flatten out well are able to get by the blocker and then behind him. Those guys get to the QB more often.
Oddly, I didn’t see teams run at Ford as much as I expected. It used to be common to run at speed rushers. Make them battle blockers and wear them down. Ford did a solid job as a run defender. He didn’t get washed out as much as I expected.
Ford was a 2-year starter for Auburn. He was projected to start in 2011, but suffered a back injury. Ford had 6 sacks in 2012 and 10.5 this past season.
One concern I have is that Ford played mostly LDE for Auburn. The Eagles would want him on the right side. The difference is that he would be going up against LTs and they are the best blockers for most O-lines. Ford certainly has the explosive ability to beat LTs. He just hasn’t shown that he can do it consistently in college. You would be making a total projection with him in the NFL…from DE to LB and from the left side to the right side. How does that affect his value?
I think Ford will go in the 20 to 40 range. Will the Eagles have significant interest? I really don’t know. Chip Kelly was at the Senior Bowl. He saw how dominant Ford was. At the same time, Kelly does prefer big guys. We haven’t seen enough personnel decisions to know how Kelly will read this situation. It certainly won’t shock me if Kelly and the Eagles go for Ford. The team didn’t pressure the passer enough in 2013. I don’t think the Eagles can ignore a pass rusher as gifted and productive as Ford just because he lacks their ideal build.