Rookie Scouting Portfolio contributor Scott Bischoff profiles the striking power of Cleveland Browns pick Genard Avery and illustrates how those skills compare to veteran pass rusher Elvis Dumervil.
Former Memphis linebacker Genard Avery enters the NFL as a very underrated pass rusher because he makes plays despite not having the stature that the NFL demands from the position.
Although teams covet size and length that Avery lacks, he was an effective as a pass rusher in 2017 – earning 8.5 sacks and 22 tackles for loss. There’s a strong chance that he’ll outplay his fifth-round status due in part to one specific trait that sets him apart from many rush linebackers: Outrageously heavy hands that jolt offensive linemen off balance.
Getting a lineman off balance allows Avery to run his feet through contact and it reduces the area he needs to cover to reach the quarterback. These fists of dynamite lead to more pressures and sacks.
Other players have had tremendous success coming out of nowhere to become excellent pass rushers in the NFL for similar reasons. One of those players is Elvis Dumervil, and when we compare him to Avery, they are remarkably similar in size. Avery was 6’1″ and 248 pounds at the Combine while Dumervil was listed at 5’11” and 250 pounds for the 49ers last year.
Here are a pair of videos of Dumervil running through contact to create space for himself and we’ll see the specific things he does well with leverage, power, and with his heavy and powerful hands. This has tremendous importance when playing in tight quarters.
Dumervil is lined up outside the right tackle and even though the tackle is in a good position, Dumervil throws his hands and jolts the tackle off balance for a split second. That is enough time for Dumervil to run through the tackle and pressure the quarterback. Pay particular attention to his hand usage and how it keeps him free to run a very sharp angle to attack the quarterback.
The video below is a closeup of the same play and it gives a better look at the hand power and technical ability while Dumervil is running through contact.
Now let’s watch a few plays from Avery as a pass rusher at Memphis last year. In the video below, you can see Avery in a two-point stance and when the ball is snapped, he attacks the outside shoulder of the tackle. The right tackle is in great shape and has Avery negated until Avery throws his hands and literally jolts him off of his feet.
Watch that again! The power of Avery to move a man the size of the right tackle onto his backside through his hands is something that is rare, and it will help Avery as a pass rusher at the NFL level.
Once again, Avery is lined up outside the right tackle and you can see advanced hand usage to go along with his power.
He wins here because he uses his quickness to stress the tackle, forcing him to turn his hips and chase. Avery swats away the tackles hands and runs through him via his power. The videos of Avery are examples of the different ways he can win, one through power, and one combining technical proficiency with that power.
Avery is a tremendous athlete for a player with his physical makeup and he can get the corner on quickness alone. When combined, his quickness, the power in his hands and the ability to run his feet through contact are tremendous assets that could make him a nightmare on the edge as a pass rusher.
Author Scott Bischoff delivers scouting intel on players — linking the traits between the college and pro games for the Rookie Scouting Portfolio site. You can contact him on Twitter (@Bischoff_Scott).
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