NAME: Dontavius Russell
POSITION: Interior Defensive Lineman
CLASS: RS Senior
JERSEY: No. 95
RECRUITMENT RATING: 4-star
WT: 310 lbs
Run Defense – Thickly built frame is ideal for anchoring against the run. Does well to win with first contact and play with good leverage. Can be outreached and must work overtime to clear his pads to finish. Flashes the ability to situationally shoot gaps and reset the line of scrimmage although he isn’t a dynamic penetration player. Play recognition skills need improvement to understand better where the ball is going in relationship to how he is being blocked.
Pass Rush – Lacks the juice, twitch and flexibility to consistently attack the edges of blockers and work through gaps to create pressure. More of a pocket pressure and he is capable of walking back interior offensive lineman when his leverage is right. Hands are active throughout the rep to soften rush angles but his lack of length and flexibility works against him.
Effort – Maximum effort player on every rep. Range is limited but he works hard in pursuit. Deploys an array of counters and swipes to get off blocks. Fires off the ball with urgency. No issues here.
Hand Technique – Does well to win with first contact and play behind his hands. Has plenty of pop in his hands but timing is hit or miss. Works overtime to free his pads if his blocker lands his punch and fits his hands.
Flexibility – Stiffness is apparent when changing direction and is just too tight to work his hips through gaps and around edges consistently. Below average ability to work laterally down the line of scrimmage and his overall range is small.
Play Strength – More than capable of anchoring at the point of attack when his pads are low. Pop in his hands is evident. Good bull rush to push the pocket on passing downs. Contact balance and hitting power is strong.
Play Speed – Lacks the dynamic first step quickness of a true penetration player and is far from and explosive mover. Plays with great effort and urgency but his radius of impact is limited. Doesn’t present difficult challenges to offensive lineman in pass pro on account of his athletic ability.
Lateral Movement – His success comes working in tight areas and isn’t a threat to work down the line of scrimmage. Zone concepts present major challenges given his modest movement skills and play recognition skills. Overall range is below average.
Versatility – Auburn played him all along the defensive front in multiple techniques. Does his best work as a shade in even fronts. Lacks the length desired for two-gapping duties in the NFL but he can eat space and occupy blocks to keep the second level clean on run downs. Pass rushing upside is limited.
BEST TRAIT – Run Defense
WORST TRAIT – Physical Upside
RED FLAGS – None
A four-year starter for Auburn, Russell has value to NFL teams in search of a run stopping specialist. He is a powerful and stout run defender that does well to control blocks at the point of attack. With that said, his lack of length and athleticism limits his ability to finish. He is an unselfish player that understands his role and the importance of keeping the second level clean against the run. Given his modest physical upside, Russell does not project as an impact pass rusher in the NFL. He can push the pocket with a strong bull rush but he lacks critical traits needed to make an impact pressuring the passer. Russell should be able to help an NFL defense early in his NFL career on run downs but his overall skill set lacks value.
PROS: Generally holds his own against solo blocks. Flashes a strong swim move. Plays hard and physical. Moves well for a nose tackle. Decent first step. Powerful and when pad level is right can press opponent off his frame. Pad level is typically solid. Prototype space eater. Built-in leverage makes him tough to re-locate. Effort is there as a pass rusher. High character prospect who is a respected leader in the locker room.
CONS: Too few flashes as a pass rusher to expect an every-down contributor right away. Not overly explosive or long. Often body-to-body as a run defender. Slow to disengage from contact and won’t make a ton of stops as a result. Needs to utilize full arm extension. Lacks the range to make plays to the boundary. Mental processing is better than teammate Derrick Brown, but still can use work. Zone schemes presented difficulty for him. Success rate vs doubles was all over the place. Will likely never be a big behind-the-line-of-scrimmage difference maker. Carries some extra weight in the mid-section.