Harold Landry: The Last EDGE Bender; Elite Talent Emerges

Photo: Jim Brown-USA TODAY Sports

Katara: [opening narration]

"North... South... East... West. Long ago, the four divisions of the AFC lived in parity. Then everything changed when the Patriots attacked. Only the pass rushers, masters of affecting a quarterback, could stop them. But when the world needed them most, they vanished. Over 15 years passed, and #DraftTwitter discovered a new pass rusher, an EDGE bender named Harold. And although his EDGE bending skills are great, he still has a lot to learn before he's ready to save anyone. But I believe Harold can save the AFC."

I still have no clue how Harold Landry didn't get drafted in the first round. He had the stats; led the nation in sacks with 16.5, along with 22 tackles for loss in 2016. He had the athletic ability; tested in the 90th percentile in the 3-cone, 20-yard shuttle and 60-yard shuttle, and tested in the 80th percentile in the vertical jump and the 40-yard dash. And he played one of the most coveted positions in the game.

It didn't make sense on draft weekend why Landry fell to pick No. 41 in the second round, and it sure doesn't makes any more sense now as we're watching him display that elite edge-play ability week-in and week-out.

Let's start with Landry's latest tape against the Jaguars in Week 3.

That clip above is no surprise to anyone who scouted Landry when he was healthy at Boston College. Landry knows how to win with speed. Even if you take away the bend factor, Landry's get off at the snap is so quick and so explosive in its first step that he often has the advantage, even before he shows off his greatest trait.

This was evident in his college tape.

Coming from a four-point stance, at the top of your screen, Landry exploded off the ball and was able to get even with the right tackle within three steps.

After that, Landry displayed what is very tough for even the best edge players to do, even if they have good talent and skill elsewhere in the position: bend the edge.

Being a top-tier edge bender as a pass rusher is the most coveted trait for the position, because even on downs where you might not make it to the quarterback to finish the play before the ball is gone, you can get there quick enough to disrupt plays on a regular basis.

Think of it this way: the quicker you get to the quarterback the better, right? Well what are the quickest ways? The first is with elite interior pressure. If you can get off the ball, into and beyond a one-on-one with one swift move as a defensive tackle it's almost always a sack. The second quickest way is when a defensive end can give an inside move to a tackle that isn't getting any help. Those are the quickest routes. However, those are also the ways that are often defended against the most with help in the middle from other offensive linemen. That's why it doesn't happen as much.

If you have elite edge bending skill like Landry does, thats something that will always be matched one-on-one with no offensive line help. Therefore, it's the most effective (with probability involved) for the quickest way to the quarterback.

Another thing that makes edge bending so alluring is that you cannot teach it. There are components of being an elite edge bender that take technique and acquired skills via coaching, yes. However, the most vital parts of successful edge bend work comes from natural flexibility in the shoulders, hips and ankles.

There are nice pass rushers that can do stretching routines for years and years to their bodies and will never be at the level Landry is.

The burst, the shoulder dip, the ankle mobility, all of those abilities are natural for Landry, and they are what separate him from almost every other pass rusher in the NFL already as just a rookie. That's why we're already seeing him make plays like he did in college.

Landry dealt with some injuries during his time at Boston College, but if health can stay on his side, he'll lead the NFL in sacks very soon because of the natural ability that most others just do not have and how unblockable such traits really are.

Written By:

Trevor Sikkema

Chief Digital Officer

CDO & Senior NFL Draft Analyst for The Draft Network. Co-Host of the Locked On NFL Draft Podcast.