With so many talented pass rushers in this year’s draft, oft-overlooked is Jeremiah Attaochu of Georgia Tech. The former Yellow Jackets standout is capable of lining up at either an end spot as an edge pusher or a standup outside linebacker in a 3-4, making him all the more intriguing to NFL clubs.
As a pass-rush specialist for Georgia Tech the past two seasons, Attaochu was one of only three ACC players to register double-digit sack totals in 2012 with 10, in addition to a dozen tackles for loss. And this past year, his senior season, he recorded 12.5 sacks en route to re-writing the record books, becoming the program’s all-time leader in sacks with 31.5 in his career.
Much like a Trent Cole or Cliff Avril, Attaochu is a pass-rush specialist. He has a very quick first step to help him beat tackles off the edge and is aggressive in his pursuit of the quarterback. Also in his arsenal is the ability to bull-rush, though it is rarely utilized. He’s also touted for being a solid tackler.
Despite the eye-opening numbers in college, Attaochu is still considered a raw prospect and fits the label of a “tweener” on the NFL level — with teams having to decide whether he fits the mold of a 4-3 end or a 3-4 backer. And while he can drop back into coverage, he isn’t better than average in that respect.
Considered the No. 24 overall prospect by Rotoworld, Attaochu is the fifth-rated edge player in this year’s class behind Jadeveon Clowney, Khalil Mack, Anthony Barr and Dee Ford. He’s ranked as No. 84 by CBS Sports and the eighth-rated outside backer.
Given the number of highly touted edge rushers that could come off the board in the first round, Attaochu could fall to the New Orleans Saints with the No. 27 pick. He could serve as a 3-4 outside backer in Rob Ryan’s defense, rounding out a palpable corps alongside Curtis Lofton, David Hawthorne and Junior Galette, who broke out last season.
Attaochu also makes a lot of sense for the Denver Broncos in the No. 31 slot. Robert Ayers and Shaun Phillips are both impending free agents, and the defensive line could use an upgrade over Malik Johnson at defensive end. He could also be a replacement for Phillips in that regard or an insurance policy should the team be unable to agree to terms on a restructured deal for All-Pro Von Miller.