2014 NFL Draft Scouting Report – Jonathan Newsome, DE Ball State


Oct 27, 2012; West Point, NY, USA; Army Black Knights quarterback Trent Steelman (8) runs past Ball State Cardinals defensive back Jonathan Newsome (11) during the second half at Michie Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Danny Wild-USA TODAY Sports

Ball State’s Jonathan Newsome had an extremely productive two years as a pass rusher and disruptive player for the Cardinals.  Newsome spent two seasons at Ohio State where he was able to contribute before transferring due to academic issues as well as a marijuana arrest.  The hope is that Newsome matured in his time at Ball State because the talent level he displayed in Columbus was a welcome addition to the Cardinals.

Newsome projects as an extremely athletic, undersized pass rusher that can attack as a defensive end or outside linebacker.  He can occasionally make a big play against the run, but largely struggles in that part of the game because of a lack of bulk and questions with instincts.  Newsome’s ability to disrupt plays as a pass rusher as a speed threat off of the edge is impressive but he also shows potential to contribute in coverage.  He should also be able to find a home on special teams.  Newsome warrants a third day pick in the draft but there are some defensive schemes that value him higher than others and as long as teams are comfortable with him off the field, he could go earlier than some might expect.

Vitals & Build

Newsome measured 6’3” 247lbs at the scouting combine with 33 ¼” arms.  He has terrific burst and quickness with excellent body control and fluidity.  His strength is not great on its own, but he shows good functional strength when he is able to generate momentum.  The question with Newsome comes down to how much weight he can gain while maintaining his athleticism.  The more strength he can gain without sacrificing his speed will make him that much more likely to be successful in the NFL.

Snap Anticipation & First Step

Newsome shows the ability to get off of the ball really effectively.  It really depends on what Newsome wants to do on the play that has an impact.  When he wants to get up the field, he is good at getting the jump and taking advantage.  There are times when it appears as though he is a beat late, but this seems deliberate when he wants to attack inside and wants the space to stunt.

Newsome’s first step is generally good with his pad level staying down and his force going forward allowing him to maintain leverage and get up the field and put opponents at an immediate disadvantage.  Especially on the outside, he is aggressive and gains a lot of ground on that initial step going up the field.

Block Shedding

When it comes to shedding blocks, Newsome does everything he can to keep opponents out of his body, using his arms to keep opponents at a distance.  He uses his speed and quickness to keep opposing linemen off balance and make it so they have a difficult time knowing how and where they can get control.

The times where Newsome does get engaged in blocks, he keeps working his hands and feet to try to fight his way out and has drawn holding penalties in the process.  He is at his best when he can work half the man and make it so opponents cannot get full control of them and are blocking from a position of weakness as much as possible.

Run Stopping

Newsome will occasionally make plays as a run defender, but it generally is because he is able to shoot a gap and blow up the play before it starts or because he is chasing down a play from behind.  His speed and explosion allow him to make the occasional splash play, but on the whole, he has a number of problems.

First and foremost, his instincts and ability to read plays get him in trouble.  His approach on read plays is to always crashes down inside, which has had several instances where he evacuated his gap and created huge running lanes and the team has been gouged as a result.  There are certainly situations where his approach has worked and he secured the tackle on the ball carrier as soon as he tried to go anywhere with it, but the payoff does not warrant the cost.

When Newsome is unable to create momentum, he has a real problem holding up at the point of attack and tends to get pushed down the field.  This can cause Newsome to try to run around plays to stay out of blocks in hopes of being able to snuff out the play before it starts but usually he just gives a blocker the ability to just go to the next level and take out someone else.

In situations where Newsome can operate in space, he can break down and make tackles, but he has real problems when he has to work through crowded areas and sift through trash.  At this point, he has a difficult time warranting being on the field in running situations.

Pass Rushing

Newsome is a speed rushing terror on the outside.  He is at his best when he can attack up the field and use his speed to put opponents at a disadvantage.  At that point, he can work half the man and keep maneuvering his way into the pocket.

Newsome excels because along with his speed, he is able to maintain pad level, stay low with a dip move and use his arms to make it difficult for opponents to get good hand placement.  He flattens out to the quarterback really well and by virtue of the fact he is low, he can adjust quickly and secure sacks effectively.

As effective as his speed rush is, Newsome uses it to open up other options.  Whether he is simply attacking inside or they are stunting him inside, his explosion and ability to get skinny make him a big threat to capitalize and get to the quarterback in the middle of the line.

He also is not afraid to convert speed to power and while some will criticize his strength, he has caught opponents and driven them back into the pocket or simply knocked them to the ground.  Lastly, he will occasionally slow play his initial rush right at the opponent and then decide depending on what he sees.

Newsome’s speed is really a problem for stiff or slow footed opponents and he is able to put them off balance early and become a bigger problem as the game progresses.  His burst, closing speed and ability to adjust on the fly can make him a nightmare for quarterbacks.


In addition to his ability to rush the passer, Newsome has shown the ability to drop and contribute in coverage.  He does a fantastic job getting to his drops and his athleticism gives him potential in that area.  Newsome also has some experience playing the slot receiver in man coverage.  There is a lot of potential because of his skill set and what he could potentially offer a team, giving him more versatility for defensive packages.

System Fit

Newsome’s best fit is as a situational pass rusher and he can operate with his hand in the ground, but he does appear to be better suited to play outside linebacker in a 3-4.  Teams that want to use him as a defensive end could certainly do that and find a nice role for him, but his long term potential is better in a 3-4.

Newsome could also be attractive as a leo backer for systems that call for one and there is a chance he could be used as a outside linebacker in a 4-3 scheme because of his speed and athleticism.

Newsome has potential to develop into more, but his calling card is likely going to be a sub package player that can get after the quarterback, can offer a changeup in coverage and then on special teams because of his build and athleticism.

NFL Comparison

While he is not quite the athlete and will not come with the same amount of hype attached, Newsome’s game is similar to that of Bruce Irvin of the Seattle Seahawks from a style perspective.  Irvin was surprisingly a first round pick because of his speed and ability to get after the passer and Newsome offers the same type of fit and skill set at a substantially better value.

Draft Projection

Jonathan Newsome offers an obvious fit as an edge rusher with speed and body control that can make him a tough matchup in obvious pass rushing situations.  He also offers an intriguing ability to help in coverage and should be able to contribute on special teams.  His run defense is a project that will take a while and may never be realized but his ability to rush the passer will make him an attractive prospect.  Newsome warrants a third day pick as long as the off field checks out but he could go closer to the beginning of day three for a few teams that specifically look for this type of rusher.

Some of the film used in this scouting breakdown was provided by the good folks at draftbreakdown.com