NAME: Jaylon Ferguson
SCHOOL: Louisiana Tech
CONFERENCE: Conference USA
CLASS: RS Senior
JERSEY: No. 45
RECRUITMENT RATING: 3-star
WT: 269 lbs
Burst/Arc Speed – Solid burst off the snap with good stride length up the arc. Not an overly explosive player, but easy to see him get familiar with cadences and jump snaps as the game progresses. Works from a plethora of different stances and could be aided by finding one consistent approach with his hand down in the NFL.
Bend/Flexibility – Big-time area of weakness. Very little bend or flexibility at the top of the arc, has to create a softer edge with his hands or cornering is out of the question. Can dip a shoulder a little bit to reduce his surface area. Speed/bend is not his forte as a rusher.
Hand Usage – This is where he makes his money. Terrific speed-to-power conversion with low pad level and hands inside. Strong, physical player he utilizes long arms and cross chops at the top of the arc to beat tackles’ hands. Push-pull and snatch is his signature move. Tossed around LSU’s right tackle like he was a D-III kid.
Counter Moves/Rush Variety – Have seen him work to an inside spin when the edge is taken away, but it isn’t frequent or sudden enough. Lack of great speed or change of direction ability doesn’t lend itself to quick counters. Constantly working his hands for leverage points however, and can overpower his opponent late in a rep. Works back to depth of quarterback and won’t get run up the arc aimlessly.
Run Defense – Stud at the point-of-attack. Doesn’t get knocked back and uses his hands well to keep blockers out of his frame with full arm extension. Sets a strong edge and plays assignment sound at all times. Steps down with perfect pace in unblocked situations. Lacks the range and athleticism to make a lot of plays away from his gap. Plays with good leverage despite his height to anchor and shed without giving ground.
Tackling/Finishing – Long arms to finish outside his frame, capable of dragging runners down 1v1 with good strength. Targets the ball as a pass rusher and has forced seven fumbles in his career as a result. Some limitations on his ability to finish in space and while turning tight angles to the pocket.
Mental Processing/Vision – Reacts well to pass sets and knows how to attack offensive linemen with bad stances and sets. Would like to see him more quickly access counter moves when facing oversets. Finds the ball quickly as a run defender and reacts well to pullers and unblocked situations.
Scheme Versatility – Has played from a 2 and 3-point stance, but I don’t believe he’s anything other than a hand-down defensive end in the NFL. Not athletic enough to be a preferable option in coverage. Doesn’t get reps inside at Louisiana Tech, but I could see the NFL kicking him inside and letting him rush the passer over a guard on long/late downs.
Competitive Toughness – Not a hard-charger from the backside, but generally plays hard every snap and is extremely physical. Sets a tone early on that he won’t be pushed around.
Athleticism/Size – Tremendous size, length and thickness throughout his lower body. Adjusting to trench life in the NFL will not be a struggle. Average athlete at best, with limited burst, COD or flexibility. Bigger than the average edge defender at around 270 pounds, so testing numbers will need to be weight-adjusted.
BEST TRAIT – Hand Usage
WORST TRAIT – Bend/Flexibility
BEST FILM – LSU (2018)
WORST FILM – None
RED FLAGS – None
Ferguson is a low ceiling, high floor edge defender who would operate best from a 3-point stance in the NFL. Ferguson doesn’t have ideal athletic traits, nor will he be a quick winner off the edge in the NFL, but he’s a strong run defender at the point-of-attack and could project to an interior rush role on long/late downs. He shouldn’t be thought of as a coveted prospect, but in the mid-rounds, Ferguson can be a valuable extra rusher and rotational defender for an NFL team.
PROS: Super productive – 122 tackles, 41.5 tackles for loss, 27.5 sacks and five forced fumbles over the past three seasons. Gives an honest effort on every snap and makes plays on hustle. Has success slashing through gaps as a run defender. Slapped together well, looking the part of an NFL edge defender. When he gets home, Ferguson does well to separate the football from the quarterback.
CONS: Needs to disengage from blocks and play through contact better. Lacks the hand technique needed to shed quickly and keep his pads clean. Too many body-to-body rushes with no identifiable plan to get to the quarterback. The frequent square up position and lack of hand technique leads to him getting reached and not keeping outside leverage. Ability to convert speed to power is below average. Does not read the tackles set well and appropriately combat it, missing opportunities to draw them off balance and attack vulnerable areas. Does little with his upper body, feet or hands to set up his pass rush moves. Pads have a tendency to get high, robbing him of play strength. Offers way too much surface area to blockers and they have no issues landing their punch on him. Lacks the burst and flexibility to consistently win around the outside edge track in the NFL. Vertical push does not put stress on the offensive tackles feet to keep up with landmarks arounds the arc.