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NFL Draft

2021 NFL Draft Scouting Report: EDGE Malcolm Koonce

  • The Draft Network
  • January 10, 2021
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Malcolm Koonce is a lanky and long-armed defender who has experience playing from both an upright and 3-point position. He’s efficient with using his length and hands with a consistent club-rip move that has become his go-to tactic as a pass rusher. Demonstrating adequate bend at the hips, he can lower his center of gravity and corner in order to win around the edge. An attacker at the apex of pass rush attempts, he has also shown to be capable of dipping below the hands/arms of matchups prior to initial punch attempts. Constantly showing a high motor, he remains a relentless ball chaser, which helps show off his athleticism. Koonce is fully aware of how to stack-shed and push-pull when necessary. When locking his arms out, it’s very difficult for blockers to get inside of his frame. An area that remains inconsistent with Koonce is displaying functional lower-body strength. As an edge setter, he can often get moved off of his spots in the run game and struggle to keep his outside shoulder free. This allowed rushers to circle the edge and rush for explosive plays. As a pass rusher, he hasn’t quite developed a go-to counter move against blockers that are able to match his first step and continued explosiveness throughout the duration of pass-rush attempts. While he won’t be a fit in every defense, he projects best as a 3-4 outside linebacker, but he remains inexperienced as a coverage dropper from his stand-up positioning. 

Ideal Role: Developmental edge rusher or 3-4 outside linebacker.

Scheme Fit: 3-4 outside linebacker or 5-technique in a four-man defensive front.


Written by Jordan Reid

Games watched: Northern Illinois (2020), Bowling Green (2020), Kent State (2020), Miami-OH (2020), Akron (2020)

Best Game Studied: Bowling Green (2020)

Worst Game Studied: Akron (2020)

First-Step Explosiveness: Koonce has a lot of first-step acceleration out of his stance as he’s proven to operate from both the stand-up position and with his hand in the dirt. His most successful reps have come from his experience with his hand in the dirt, as he can accelerate forward. As a focal point of the team's scheme, he’s been reluctant with pinning his ears back and taking advantage of favorable situations where he can strictly become a pass rusher.  

Flexibility: Possessing B+ bend, he has the ability to stress offensive tackles at the apex of the pocket, but his ability to bend and corner to the quarterback remains inconsistent. While he has the ankle flexion and ability to do so, his ability to execute it and finish plays with sacks was inconsistent in 2020. With a bunch of "almost" plays, his pressures largely outweigh his sack production. Finishing plays will be the next stage of his development that he will need to unlock. 

Hand Counters: Koonce has average power in his hands and remains inconsistent against blockers who have answers to his initial moves. Having the speed to get up the field quickly, redirecting, or getting hands on at the top of his rush attempts is still an area that needs improvement—but his effort with counters is apparent. Unsure of what to execute next, oftentimes he gets stuck and blockers are able to simply run him up the field by guiding him past throwers.  

Hand Power: Koonce still has room to develop with his hand usage and the strength behind them. A bit of an underdeveloped frame comes to fruition when getting into hand fights with blockers. Able to utilize moves, his lack of overall strength comes into play as a run defender when trying to fight off those types of engagements. 

Length: Having plenty of length at the position, he’s able to detach frequently. Still figuring out the sum of his parts, Koonce’s utilization of his length is seen more frequently as a pass rusher compared to his raw traits as a run defender. Stacking, shedding, and chasing are seen often throughout his film.

Run Defending: A consistent edge setter with his off hand, he’s able to redirect runners back inside during attempts to circle the defense. Koonce is detailed with keeping his outside shoulder free of traffic and working his way to stay on the outside shoulder of blockers. Even when faced with double teams from tackles and tight ends, he works hard to maintain outside leverage. His biggest improvement will need to come when taking on pulling blockers on kick-outs and against zone-read concepts where he can be a bit antsy with biting down on the running back during mesh fakes.

Effort/Motor: There's little concern about his motor, as Koonce plays hard in multiple phases. No matter the in-game situation, he shows to play at a consistent level that usually gives him a chance to have a positive effect on plays. Getting amped up to rush the passer is evident and it’s clear that he thrives off of the possibilities of collecting sacks. 

Football IQ: Still a bit raw in some areas, Koonce’s biggest mental lapses come as a run defender when he’s unable to recognize the concept in time and the run has an effect on him before he’s able to react. Continuing to get reps in that facet will only improve his IQ levels and understanding of what it takes to eventually become a good run defender. As a pass rusher, he has a well-developed understanding of when and how to have a plan, as he’s proven to have a wealth of moves in his arsenal that he’s capable of executing.

Lateral Mobility: When zone reads are away from his direction, he’s disciplined with keeping his shoulders square to the line of scrimmage. Once he notices that the ball has been handed off, he attacks the runner by staying flat down the line and playing as a chase-from-behind tackler. Koonce has the catch-up speed, length, and agility to cause problems for teams that want to put him in a bind that way. He also has lapses where he can become too nosey and allows QBs to pull the ball to create explosive gains. 

Versatility: Capable of playing as both a 3-4 outside linebacker and 5-technique in a four-man defensive front, Koonce hasn’t been afforded many opportunities where he can truly drop in coverage. When given those chances, it does seem a bit foreign to him because of the inexperience with doing so. If placed as a 3-4 OLB, it will be an area that he needs constant work because of the newness.


TDN Consensus: To Be Determined

Jordan Reid: 75/100

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