Paschal should be able to offer something to everyone.
His ability to align in any number of places in the defensive front and execute any number of styles of play is huge. I see him being a viable fit across most fronts and schemes, but a defense that asks their players to do all of the above is going to get the most mileage and value out of him as I’m not sure he’s got the ceiling as a pass rusher to be a dominant fixture in any one ideology of playing defense.
Easily Paschal's best trait off his 2021 tape.
There’s a whole lot of pop in these hands. Blockers who are late with their hands or don’t have a reach advantage on Paschal are going to pay for it at the point of attack. He’s got a lot of juice here and wins knockback at the line of scrimmage with consistency.
First Step Explosiveness
Don't get caught on the tracks if you're not ready.
First Step Explosiveness
There is a surprising amount of twitch in his frame when he’s queuing up the snap and looking to play in attack mode from the jump. He can be slow out of the blocks at times but those instances appear to be read-and-react reps. He gains good ground on attack reps and is capable of quickly getting hip to hip, especially on some of his interior alignments.
Kentucky defensive lineman Josh Paschal is a scheme-diverse talent who should be able to offer appeal to most defensive systems across the league. I think he’d be best weaponized in a Belichick-style defense that asks their defenders to play multiple spots along the line and serve multiple roles in both two-gap and gap-penetration scenarios. Paschal has the skill set to do both and he proved it in 2021 after enjoying a career season for an upstart Wildcats defense.
He’s made plays in just about every way imaginable, serving as a stack-and-shed defender against Florida (2021), slashing into the backfield against LSU (2021), blocking a field goal against the Gators, and generally aligning all over the Wildcats front. Whether they played odd or even fronts, he took snaps as a base end in an over-front, as a 4i alignment in odd looks, a 3-technique in nickel sub-packages with two down linemen, and as the stand-up nose tackle for a 5-0 pressure look. This amount of versatility is impressive and he pairs it with powerful hands and a surprising level of juice in his frame to accelerate and attack the ball-carrier.
Paschal’s biggest question is rooted in erratic performance and production; he had a down year in 2020 and looked nowhere near as dynamic that season as compared to his past year as a force to be reckoned with up front. Paschal was diagnosed in the summer of 2018 with malignant melanoma that required multiple surgeries and immunotherapy treatments (12 months) but was healthy enough to return to play that same season. He’s been a starter ever since and served as a team captain in 2020—he’s got a great resume off the field for academics and character. This is someone who plays motivated and is someone you’re going to want in your locker room.
Ideal role: 4-3 base end, 3-4 4i alignment IDL
Scheme tendencies: Multiple-front schemes and blend of gap penetration and two-gapping principles
Written by Kyle Crabbs
Games watched: Alabama (2020), Florida (2020), Ole Miss (2020), Florida (2021), LSU (2021), Louisville (2021)
Best Game Studied: Florida (2021)
Worst Game Studied: Alabama (2020)
First Step Explosiveness: See Above.
Flexibility: This isn’t a super bendy or pliable rusher off the edge. But in linear situations and when needing to stack and play with leverage at the point of attack, Paschal shows good hinges and very good hip and pad level to play with power. He does have the ability to dip the inside shoulder but I’m much more taken with his ability to disconnect his hips and shoulders to get skinny through small creases or when pressing through an interior crease. All that said, I have seen him flatten at surprising angles in interior games.
Hand Counters: He thrives more with hand power and angle reduction than he does as a finesse player. He’s got a violent stab, a hard chop, and he’s got sufficient push/pull ability thanks to his upper-body power.
Length: Paschal appears to have very good functional length and his separation skills are a big plus for his work at the point of attack. He shows very good upper body power and strength to pop and extend his hands, allowing him to make easy disengagement from offensive linemen when he’s keyed up the block. This isn’t just a long body, either. He’s effective in manipulating bodies at the full extension of his frame and shows violent finishes.
Hand Power: See Above.
Run Defending: I was very impressed with seeing how much more effective and confident Paschal was in this regard in 2021. He looked lethargic and uncertain at times in 2020 and was given fits by the likes of both Florida and Alabama that season in the run game, but he was a totally different animal this year. He moved swiftly, with a lot of confidence, and physically stonewalled a lot of blocks at the point of attack.
Effort (Motor): Tireless, relentless effort both at the point of attack and when working to the perimeter. I was impressed at the number of times I saw No. 4 flashing outside the numbers five yards downfield. He does well when he’s pushed past his landmark as a rusher to try to peel back and hustle in late.
Football IQ: I’m not sure what caused the lightbulb to come on for Paschal in 2021 but I’m glad it did. He was a totally different player in 2021 as compared to the 2020 contests studied and appears to have a much more confident understanding of how he can play and play diagnosis. Vetting what caused the issues of 2020 and what changed this offseason will go a long way in helping to determine the confidence I have in his reaching his lofty ceiling as a pro player.
Lateral Mobility: Paschal isn’t necessarily the most fluid or dynamic in lateral situations and there have been some instances where he’s been the read man in zone read and given up outside when trying to drive outside. I don’t think it will be too problematic in the pro game given his ideal role isn’t as a contain player, however. I also believe he’s got plenty of functional strength and enough shallow change of direction skills to crash across face against oversetting linemen or when attacking uneven levels to come back inside.
Versatility: See Above.
TDN Consensus: 79.67/100 (Third Round Value)
Crabbs Grade: 80.00/100
Marino Grade: 80.00/100
Harris Grade: 78.00/100
Sanchez Grade: 80.50/100
Weissman Grade: 79.50/100
Parson Grade: 80.00/100