The 2014 NFL draft class features no shortage of linebackers, and perhaps one of the most potential-laden prospects at the position is Vic Beasley of Clemson.
Beasley has yet to officially declare for the NFL Draft, though it seemed as if he hinted in that direction following Clemson’s victory past Ohio State in the Orange Bowl. Should he stay, he may warrant first-round consideration in 2015. But this go-round, he could be one of the more intriguing prospects that will be on the board.
The junior came to Clemson as a running back but switched over to the defensive side of the ball where his skill-set translated splendidly. Beasley has great foot speed and quickness, and his lower body strength helps him to be a sure tackler. Beasley can also rush the outside backer positions.
Beasley’s pass-rushing skills were on full display during his junior campaign, one in which he earned first-team All Atlantic Coast Conference honors. He led the Tigers with 13 sacks, enjoying success against some of college football’s premier blockers such as Sean Hickey of Syracuse. Beasley beat Hickey for a pair of sacks and demonstrated what a lot of NFL scouts hopes translates to NFL — extreme athleticism, excellent closing speed and above-average body control.
Unlike some of the other outside linebackers and pass rushers featured in this year’s crop, the bag is pretty mixed in terms of where Beasley fits in among the others at the position. ESPN draft guru considers Beasley No. 22 overall of all the prospects, but colleague Todd McShay has him as the No. 36 player. And according to an NFL Draft Advisory Board, Beasley will likely fall somewhere in the second round.
Beasley may have to switch to defensive end should a team with a 4-3 defensive scheme nab him, and there are concerns as to whether he can be effective in that role on the professional level. He’s a better fit as an outside backer in a 3-4, for sure, and that’s why some scouts see a lot of Seattle Seahawks linebacker Bruce Irvin in Beasley.
While some mock drafts have Beasley going as early as seventh overall in the draft, it seems highly unlikely he’ll be taken off the board before other outside linebackers such as Anthony Barr or Khalil Mack.
The first of some likely landing spots could be with the Arizona Cardinals at No. 20. Beasley could sit behind veteran defensive end John Abraham and serve as a situational pass-rusher until his game gets a bit more polished. The Philadelphia Eagles are also a logical destination, perhaps as a successor to Trent Cole or a replacement to Connor Barwin.
Toward the end of the first round, the New Orleans Saints and Seattle Seahawks could be a fits, too. Rob Ryan needs continue to revamp the Saints’ front seven, which made major strides in his first season. And it seems as if Pete Carroll likes to hoard pass-rushers, and perhaps Carroll could get the most out of Beasley as he transitions to the NFL.
Should Beasley slip past these four squads, he’s all but certainly going to be picked early on in the second round.