Summer Scouting Series: Josh Sweat

Finally healthy, Josh Sweat showed signs of reaching his elite potential in 2016

Leading up to the 2017 college football season, the CFB Film Room Scouting Dept. is putting together a summer scouting series. We’re focusing on the top draft-eligible prospects entering the 2017 season and will be reviewing their strengths and weaknesses from an NFL scouting perspective.

Josh Sweat was a highly touted high school prospect coming off a horrific knee injury his senior year at Oscar Smith H.S. in Chesapeake, VA. Before the injury Sweat was poised to be the next Jadeveon Clowney, a freakish athlete with unworldly potential. After the injury, expectations were still high, but those around Sweat knew it would take some time to recover.

As a freshman, Sweat played in 12 games for the Florida State Seminoles recording 41 tackles, 5 stuffs, and 2 sacks. Then as a Sophomore he started to come into his own. Sweat had double digit run stuffs and also added seven sacks as a sophomore in 2016. In his third year, Seminole fans and scouts expect Sweat to take an even bigger step and become the elite dominate force many believed he would be from day one before his injury.

For the next installment of our summer scouting series, we take a look at the strengths and weaknesses of Josh Sweat as he prepares for the upcoming season.

 

Athleticism

At 6’5” and 250 lbs Sweat is a large man who can move swiftly and effortlessly on the field. As a recruit coming into college he ran a sub 4.5 second 40-yard dash and had the fifth highest SPARQ rating out of any H.S. prospect in the country. After the knee injury, Sweat may have lost a step or two in straight line speed, but he is still a highly explosive athlete capable closing on the ball carrier in a hurry and making some remarkable plays.

In this play Sweat continues to fight through the lineman and then goes airborne to make the sack and cause a turnover:

There are however, still times where Sweat appears to shows the lingering effects of his injury. Here, Sweat has an obvious limp while trying to run down the ball carrier:

 

Against the Run

One thing that Sweat does well is play against the run. He is much stronger than his slender frame would suggest, and does an excellent job at staying low and using leverage. Once engaged, he uses his long arms to stack the linemen while eyeing the ball carrier. Then, much like a boxer, he can disengage with ease to make the play on the runner.

In both of these plays Sweat does not make the stop behind the line of scrimmage, but watch how he stands the lineman up, follows the runner, and then helps with the tackle:

 

Against the Pass

Josh Sweat still has a long way to go as a pass rusher, and given his athleticism his sack totals should be much higher. In 2016, Sweat generated 25 quarterback pressures, trailing both Brian Burns (26) and DeMarcus Walker (53) on Florida State’s defense.

He struggles to get off the edge to beat the tackle up the field, and doesn’t exhibit the flexibility needed to get under and around the tackle. One upside for Sweat in the pass rush is his strength, as he is able to throw linemen around using a solid rip move. Here we take a look at Sweat’s devastating rip move causing the quarterback to step up, and ultimately leading to a sack:

 

This next play showcases Sweat’s quickness and his use of a swim move. Michigan tight end Ian Bunting has no chance given Sweat’s strength and quickness, as he gets the to the quarterback and lays a monster hit:

 

Final Thoughts

Through his first two seasons with the Seminoles, Josh Sweat relies mainly on his athleticism, but is slowly developing other parts of his game. The injury he suffered in high school, although terrible, has definitely forced Sweat to work on technique. It still looks as if Sweat is recovering from the injury, but was starting to showcase his true skills when he went on a tear the final three games of 2016.

Sweat will need to continue to develop more pass rush moves, and learn how to get around the edge to create more consistent disruption in the backfield. He will also need to show that the injury is finally in his past, and he truly is back to 100 percent. Sweat has a high ceiling, and unfortunately it may come down to his durability to determine if he fulfills that potential.

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