Wednesday, October 28, 2020

Curtis Weaver: Bringing sacks back?

Curtis Weaver will be looking to make an impact right off the bat in 2020. The 2019 Miami Dolphins had more than their fair share of underperforming factions within the team, one of the most underwhelming being the lack of a productive pass rush.

The team combined for a mere 23 sacks, the lowest in the league, and to put this into perspective, Shaq Barrett led the league with 19.5 for Tampa Bay. Former first-rounder Charles Harris managed a whole half a sack and has since been traded to the Atlanta Falcons for, and I don’t fully understand how, a 7th round pick (Kudos to Chris Grier).

Taco Charlton led the team with a less than monumental high of 5 sacks, but similarly to his time in Dallas, his attitude and commitment to playing a specific role came into question, something the current set-up doesn’t tolerate, and thus, was waived.

Free agency was a busy time on the defensive side of the ball, bringing in experience in the form of Shaq Lawson and Emmanuel Ogbah which has the potential to be a huge upgrade. But it was the day three draft signing Curtis Weaver that the fans should be getting the most excited about when we talk about the pass rush.

Curtis Weaver great value at 164

The Curtis Weaver pick at 164 (after the Dolphins traded up to get him) was seen as somewhat of a steal as he was being touted as a potential top 100 pick, with Pro Football Focus speculating he might be as good as the 26th ranked player in the class. 

Fast and athletic Curtis Weaver could fill a huge need for the Dolphins © Axel Quartarone
Fast and athletic Curtis Weaver could fill a huge need for the Dolphins © Axel Quartarone

He’s not the most explosive athlete and his below-average size of 6’2” and 265 lbs compared to the league average of 6’3” – 6’8” and 285-315 lbs (according to Wiki) for a Defensive End are the main reasons many believe he fell so low.

He also lacks length, with 32.38” arms which for NFL edge rushers ranks in the bottom 10%. Thankfully, the NFL is evolving and players that don’t fit the traditional prototypical mold of a specific position have been thriving in recent times.

What Curtis Weaver offers is elite level power and bend, excellent synchronicity in his hands and feet with fantastic play recognition and swipes, chops and rips a plenty.

This skill set contributed to him being the Mountain West Conference’s all-time sack leader (38) and was responsible for more sacks in his final college season than the number one ranked prospect in the entire draft and fellow Defensive End, Chase Young.

But there are other aspects to his game that will benefit the Dolphins.  In three years he notched up a pair of interceptions, 3 forced fumbles, 6 passes batted down, and 72 total tackles (47.5 for loss).

His tackling technique is solid, engulfing the ball carrier and locking his arms tight. If he catches you, you’re going down. Character and personality seem to be two of the fundamental principles that form the core of the Miami Dolphins’ new Mantra.

Curtis Weaver certainly has both and could be compared to fellow Defensive Lineman Christian Wilkins. Both enjoy pulling pranks, so you can only imagine how much fun the defensive side of the locker room will be moving forward.

Don’t be in any doubt though, when Weaver hits the field it’s all business. Boise State defensive line coach Spencer Danielson commented, “It’s the craziest thing I’ve ever seen, to watch Weaver’s shift in personality the second competition is on the table, after which he goes back to normal.” 

His footballing IQ and anticipation are other key attributes to his game and he was a regular in the backfield countering the run. Boise State defensive coordinator Jeff Schmedding acknowledged that people tend to home in on the fun side of his personality.

“The thing people don’t talk about is how smart of a football player he is. As a coach, you’ve got to make sure you challenge him in the room. He can tell you what everyone on defense does, he can make all the secondary checks, do all of those things.”

Curtis Weaver is without question one of the most exciting prospects drafted in the 2020 class. He will bring a degree of flexibility the current coaching setup loves and could potentially line up at either Defensive End or as an Outside Linebacker.

Coming into the NFL with All-American honours from CBS Sports and a host of other accolades along with a stellar college career, it’s hopeful we should see his nameplate a lot during 2020 and for many years to come. 

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