Clemson is no stranger to having a talented defensive end and this year is no different with their talented pass rusher, Vic Beasley. Beasley is an undersized rusher with exceptional explosiveness and athletic ability that allows him to get into the backfield and put pressure on the quarterback, but he has not fallen into the trap of only being an outside speed threat.
Beasley is able to disrupt offenses both against the run as well as the pass, but his lack of size and length does provide issues that could become more problematic in the NFL. He can rush from a defensive end spot, but he is far better suited to be a 3-4 outside linebacker or leo backer spot when he enters the NFL Draft. At this point, Beasley projects as a top 100 pick but could move up dramatically as the process progresses should he decide to declare this year.
Vitals & Build
Beasley is listed at 6’2” 235lbs with just incredible explosion and athleticism. He is able to accelerate to full speed in a few short steps and can change direction incredibly well. Beasley is strong even if he is not overly big and is able to generate momentum quickly that makes him look and play stronger. Beasley’s motor is extremely impressive and although he can get a little winded late in games, he brings a great effort in almost every play he is on the field and is always a threat. In addition to continuing to improve his strength, Beasley needs to find a way to get stronger for the NFL, but he appears to have the frame to do both as at least in his listed weight, added 10lbs this past offseason.
Snap Anticipation & First Step
Beasley’s snap anticipation is inconsistent. At times, he is right on the count and comes off the ball exceptionally well, but there are plenty of example where he is reacting late and trying to catch up to the play. This is far more prevalent when offenses move quickly and he is lining up later. This has proven to be a good way to neutralize some of his athleticism and is something he needs to improve.
On the other hand, his first step is exceptional. From a three point stance, he flies up the field and is able to gain a ton of ground quickly and put the lineman across from him at an immediate disadvantage. He might be even quicker form a standup position even though he is coming from that far less often. His explosion is really impressive all game long and he really keeps opponents on their toes.
Beasley is able to shed blocks largely by avoiding them in the first place. He uses a number of different moves to try to keep opponents from getting a hold of him. First and foremost, he likes to use an outside speed rush which comes as no surprise. He is so explosive and able to bend around the edge easily. Beasley likes to use a dip move to get under taller offensive tackles.
Beasley does not simply rely on the speed rush. He will attack to the inside as well. At times, he will take a step outside and try to make a quick jump inside usually accompanied with a swim move to get a free rush inside and a direct path to the backfield. There are also times when he will just try to shoot the gap instantly and get under the tackle.
Beasley will also use a bull rush. With his explosiveness, he can create momentum quickly and have power that can surprise opponents. This is especially effective when Beasley sells the outside step and works up the field before transitioning speed to power and catching tackles desperately trying to slide out to stop the speed rush and they get driven into the backfield. When he times it right, it can be devastating. Ultimately, it works to keep the opponent honest and his willingness to attack inside, outside and head up make it difficult to predict what is going to do and more effective.
When he does get blocked, he does have trouble getting out of them and can get engulfed. He simply does not have a ton of size or length to get out of it. He will try to use moves but he is just overwhelmed. This is something he can try to work to improve but this could be troublesome for him at the next level. When he can avoid getting engaged as a blocker, he can be a big time playmaker, but he does need to try to learn and fight out of blocks.
In spite of his size, Beasley gives a terrific effort in stopping the run. It does not always yield good results and his lack of mass becomes a problem. The times he is able to shoot gaps, he can get into the backfield and make a big play quickly. Unfortunately, when teams run at him or catch him before he is able to get into the backfield, he can not only be contained but he can be put on skates relatively quickly and just pushed down the field. He does not have a great anchor in that situation and really has issues.
The times when opponents run away from Beasley, he is a good run and chase defender who can chase down plays from behind. He also does not give up on plays and will make opponents work to the whistle, but he can only do so much as a defensive end at his size.
This is where Beasley is going to make his money. His quickness, explosion and bend combined with his closing speed make it so he is almost never out of a play. Beasley can win immediately and get a quick sack, but even when he is stymied early or the quarterback rolls away from him, he can find a way to get in on the play.
Beasley can rush from both an end and a linebacker spot without any trouble and the fact that he is not afraid to attack inside makes it so he can be an effective blitzing option as well as being generally unpredictable. He will occasionally overrun plays and miss the quarterback which was more common as a sophomore, but he has really done well in making the most of his opportunities this season.
The question facing Beasley is how well he will play against NFL level offensive tackles who are able to get out and block him on the edge. That explosiveness is a weapon and he will get his fair share of plays just on that seemingly, but if he cannot find a way to adjust to tackles that adjust to him, he is the next Aaron Maybin.
Beasley will get dropped into coverage at times and his natural athleticism makes him look the part even if he is not terribly accustomed to the role in terms of technique. He is able to be used in zone coverage but he is more than athletic enough to play in man against a lot of opponents if he continues working to improve it. More experience will only help him in that role and make him a more versatile player.
Beasley looks best suited to play in a system that employs a Leo backer such a Jacksonville and Seattle or a 3-4 outside linebacker in schemes that prefer quickness and like them shorter to force offensive tackles to bend down to block them. The best example of this is the Pittsburgh Steelers who have really had a ton of success with short, explosive but strong linebackers on the outside like with James Harrison. Beasley could also be employed in certain schemes as a weak side linebacker because of all of the tools he brings to the table. A team like the Cincinnati Bengals or Denver Broncos may really like what he brings to the table in their aggressive style of defense.
Beasley’s style of play is similar to that of Bruce Davis, formerly of UCLA and the Pittsburgh Steelers. Davis was an incredibly productive member of the Bruins and was drafted in the third round of the NFL Draft with similar dimensions as Beasley but was ultimately unsuccessful in making that transition. Beasley is certainly a far more explosive and athletic prospect, which could be why he might be in for a more productive career. Nevertheless, his size and lack of length leads to some concerns.
There is a lot to like about Beasley in terms of overwhelming athleticism, explosiveness and his toughness and motor. Beasley will not win every play but he will go down fighting when he does not. He needs to continue getting stronger and heavier, but there are going to be concerns about his size and his length when he ultimately decides to enter the draft process. Beasley projects as a top 100 pick in part because of the concerns he has as well as the fact he might have a lot of teams ultimately not interested in him because they do not like his fit in their scheme or at least not at the same level as some other teams. He could certainly improve upon that but he also has another year of eligibility if he wants to use it.
Some of the film used in this scouting breakdown was provided by the good folks at draftbreakdown.com