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. Our latest report features USC linebacker Porter Gustin.
The next in a long line of long-haired pass rushers coming out of the University of Southern California is Porter Gustin. The junior burst onto the scene in 2016, starting 13 games, totaling 67 tackles with 12 stuffs and six sacks on the year.
At 6’4” and 260 pounds, Gustin has a nice mix of size and athleticism with a large, athletic frame that is capable of carrying additional weight, making him an intriguing prospect in a variety of defensive schemes.
We continue the Summer Scouting Series by placing OLB/DE Porter Gustin under the CFB Film Room microscope to determine the traits that will translate to an NFL team, as well as the traits that will need to be improved upon to secure a first round grade should he declare himself eligible for the 2018 NFL Draft.
Upfield Burst and Pursuit
Porter Gustin aligns primarily as a weak-side edge defender in a stand-up position and rarely places a hand in the dirt. He still manages a good burst off the ball to strain the edge while showing flexibility and cornering ability to run the arc.
Gustin rushes the passer with a conservative approach as he is a very cerebral defender, though when decisive, is able to change speeds and show very good acceleration towards the ball.
Porter, an All-Pac-12 Honorable Mention recipient in 2016, wins with consistent effort and competitive toughness. His energy and tenacity create havoc for opposing offenses and provides opportunities for his teammates to make plays as well.
He uses exceptional angles in pursuit, showing he plays the game both smart and efficiently. Gustin makes his mark during the games most important moments, and is always around the ball.
Against The Pass
As stated prior, Gustin is a cautious pass rusher and justifiably so. Playing on the weak-side, this allows him to read and react to the play where he can then put his best traits into motion.
Gustin uses his functional strength and use of hands to disengage from his opponent or to create space while working through contact, which then allows him to chase the play. However, Gustin leaves a little to be desired if viewed through the lens of a pure pass rusher. He does not have a catalog of moves off the edge to keep the offense guessing, but does show a change in speed on occasion to create an advantage.
While tenacity is the key to filling his stat sheet, Porter uses his athleticism to drop into coverage on occasion. He rarely is matched up man-to-man, but has a very good understanding of drop angles and depth to occupy a zone.
Against The Run
Where Gustin proves his worth is as a run defender. He consistently displays the ability to leverage his gap at the point of attack by utilizing his play strength to shed blocks to make a play.
The third-year Trojan is a disciplined defender in contain situations where he consistently stays home, locked into his assignment, to force a quarterback or running Back towards his help. Gustin has the speed and lateral agility to chase the play to the sideline within the context of the play, though struggles to match agility in the open field.
Despite his many strengths in this area of the game, he is often overmatched against larger blockers, and becomes engulfed in double teams.
Final Thoughts on Porter Gustin
Porter Gustin is a fantastic player who can help a team in a variety of ways. He is not a “wow” player who creates highlight reel sacks off the edge on a regular basis, but rather a blue-collar athlete with a workman-like approach that kills drives.
From rushing the passer, to dropping into coverage, Gustin is a plug-and-play guy at the next level. He will excel if he can play off the ball and utilize his instincts and pursuit angles to track the ball carrier, though possesses enough athleticism to strain the edge.
Currently, he draws comparisons to former Trojan Clay Matthews, though he is not as dominant off the edge as his predecessor. Gustin’s passion for the game permeates his game film, and it is clear he is somebody you would want on your team. His measurables are similar to Brian Urlacher, which is intriguing in its own right.
While the simple projection for Gustin falls as an OLB in a 3-4 scheme, re-watch his film with the traits coveted as an inside linebacker in mind. His key to longevity at the next level may be off the ball.