One other thing I noticed was that if Beasley’s initial pass rush isn’t working, which happens here on this stunt to the inside, Beasley stops his attempts to get back into the pocket. An outside linebacker in the 3-4 needs to have a relentless motor as effort sacks are all too common.
For fun let’s look at one last play against NC State where the offensive coordinator attempts to use a wide receiver to mirror Beasley’s pass rush outside.
I think it’s pretty obvious what was going to happen…Beasley strip-sacks the quarterback for a touchdown.
Beasley’s top trait is his pass rush, but run defense is what makes a 3-4 outside linebacker multi-dimensional allowing defensive coordinators to play you on more than just situational pass rushing plays. Before we dig into Beasley’s run defense, it must be noted that the Clemson Tigers’ run a 1-gap defense where the defenders primarily “shoot the gap” for most of their defensive lineman which means that Beasley didn’t have to play contain nearly as much as a traditional 3-4 or 4-3 edge defender. This can be seen in these plays:
Another thing I noticed was that Beasley’s quickness after shooting the gap sometimes pushed him outside the proper position to make a tackle and consequently he dove and missed on a few occasions especially against running back Todd Gurley who is one of the best running backs of the 2015 draft class.
Even though Beasley didn’t rack up a lot of tackles (101 total), over 50% of them were for loss due to the aggressiveness of the defense and the ability of Beasley to be used to shoot the gap quickly and use his speed to tackle the running back.
Outside of run defense, 3-4 outside linebackers are sometimes asked to drop into zone coverage to man-to-man coverage on running backs shooting to the flats. Beasley showed his athleticism and fluid hips, as a former running back, to cover the middle of the field or even press coverage on running backs like in this play. Beasley was primarily used in pass rush, but he was asked to drop into coverage an average of 3-5 times a game at Clemson which is a valuable asset to have in the hybrid defenses of the NFL.
Overall, Beasley has serious potential in a pass-centric league like the NFL and can make an impact in the pass rush game for teams that desperately need help in that department. His speed combined with a great slap-rip and spin move should make him valuable early on. His run defense needs a lot of improvement especially in sealing the edge as he’s not the best, but he should be able to become an impact rookie in the NFL if utilized correctly.
Pro Comparison and Draft Projection
Pro Comparison: Bruce Irvin. Both are 6’3″ 245 and ran roughly the same 40 yard dash time (4.50 vs 4.53). Beasley is better in pass coverage due to looser hips and agility, but Irvin had a larger set of pass rushing moves coming out of West Virginia. Irvin started as a situational pass rusher before getting a larger role in the defense.
Draft Projection: Top 15 pick, especially with his combine domination.