Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Is Will Sutton worth a 1st round pick?

You won't find many more players who entered the 2013 season with higher expectations than Will Sutton. Coming off a season where he registered 23.5 tackles for loss, 12 sacks, and 5 batted passes, you'd think Sutton didn't have much to build on. After receiving a 5th round grade from the advisory committee, he decided to come back and improve his play.

Last year Sutton was undersized, playing somewhere in the 270's. Knowing teams would adjust, and double him, he's up to 288 this year. There have been reports saying that he got up to his current weight for last years bowl game, where he had 2 sacks. Also, his coach has even said that this is his natural playing weight, so it seems like we tend to over exaggerate his weight issue. Is his weight his biggest weakness? I don't think so. Let's get into his strengths.


  • Swim Move
  • Explosiveness off the snap/First Step
  • Position versatility 
  • Lighting quick, active Hands
  • Holds up surprisingly well against double teams
Many might be surprised by my last point. But for a guy under 290, I thought Sutton did a nice job of not getting completely washed out against double teams. He did a good job of standing his ground. I wouldn't call it a strength, but he has shown the ability to walk OL back into the backfield at times as well.

Sutton has played all along the defensive line. He's lined up head up on the Center, he's lined up as a 1-tech, in the A-gap. He's predominantly played as a 3-tech where he can rush the passer, and has even played 5-tech as a 3-4 defensive end. Sutton has won from each of these positions. His position versatility will really help his case as the draft process moves forward.

If you're grouping players along the defensive line, and who has the best move, Sutton's swim move has to be in the discussion. He's extremely quick off the ball, and sets up defenders with his swim move. He also shows off his snap anticipation as well has his first step. There were numerous times where he was already getting into his swim move, and the OL was still getting out of his stance.

Against USC, he waited a few steps to use the swim move, and was still just as effective.

Versus Stanford he uses the Swim move, and blows up the run in the backfield.

Here is the power that Sutton is capable of

I actually think Sutton should have about 4-5 more tackles for loss, he just hasn't finished the play off in the backfield. But Sutton is a very disruptive player who uses his swim move masterfully and does a good job winning with leverage. Sutton has also showed very good read and react skills. As far as knowing where the play is going, realizing he's not being blocked, & blowing up screens.


  • Disengaging
  • Countering
  • Lunging/Staying on his Feet
  • Anchoring against the run
I said Sutton holds up well against double teams. What he doesn't do is do a good job of disengaging against the run. He gets himself into trouble when he pops straight up out of his stance, and gets washed out against the run. Look no further than the Stanford game. It was by far his worst game that I watched. My notes say "bad hand usage", "constantly washed out of the run game", "held in check by RG in pass pro."

This is the problem Sutton has against the run. Lineman get into him, and they just lock onto him and are capable of driving him off the ball. He doesn't try and disengage, or counter, he tries to out muscle these guys, and it doesn't work.

The problem with Sutton is, if he doesn't win early, he's not going to win. At least he hasn't shown it yet. You rarely see Sutton win when the OL has his hands on him. That's what he'll need to work on if he wants to be an every down player at the next level. He's capable, we know he can use his hands, evidenced by his spectacular swim move. He just has no counter move against the run, and it gets him in trouble quite a bit when teams run at him. 

Last issue I have with Sutton is that at times he drops his head and lunges himself. You'll see this on the goal line and in short yardage situations. He'll throw himself forward and end up on the ground. If you can't win with power, that's fine, but throwing your body forward does absolutely nothing for your team.


Multiple Pro Bowl Player, Top 10  8.5 – 9.0
Highly Productive Starter, 1st Round  8.0 – 8.4
Very Good Starter, Early 2nd Round  7.8 – 7.9
Reliable Starter, 2nd Round  7.5 – 7.7
Potential Starter in Year 2, 3rd Round  7.0 – 7.4
Backup/Spot Starter, 4th Round  6.5 – 6.9
Productive Backup, 5th Round  6.0 – 6.4
Very Good Backup/STs, 6th Round  5.5 – 5.9
Quality Backup/Good STs, 7th Round  5.0 – 5.4
Backup/STs/Project Player, 7th Round  4.5 – 4.9
Priority Free Agent w/ Limitations  4.0 – 4.4
Non-Draftable    < 4.0

Run Stopping21.4
Hand Usage/placement43.5
First Step22
Read & React22
Pass Rush22
Lateral Movement22

Sutton graded out to an 8.1 for me, so a late 1st round grade. Though he's not a force against the run, he still holds up well enough against double teams, and his issues with disengaging are a matter of him not using his hands. I believe his leverage is a strength, unlike most, and that helps him win. It's hard to ignore his elite swim move and quickness off the ball. He's made a living in the backfield in the last two years. I can imagine Sutton playing either as a 4-3 3-tech, or a 3-4 5-tech in a one gap scheme and being a very good player in the NFL for years to come.

Player Comparison

I've heard Geno Atkins floated around, due to being undersized and very quick, I can't go that far just yet. Atkins is a monster. Perhaps Sutton can develop into that type of game altering player, but not just yet. Atkins is very good when you run at him, Sutton isn't there just yet.

Instead, when I watch Sutton, I see Corey Liuget, who's a very good player in his own right. They both win early, are very disruptive. They both also read plays very well. Liuget makes plays against the run, but it's usually when he shoots the gaps, much like Sutton.

All GIFs courtesy of Draft Breakdown

No comments:

Post a Comment