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When the Giants find themselves officially on the clock at No. 6 in the 2019 NFL Draft, many experts believe GM Dave Gettleman is going to get one of the top edge rushers still on the board. This is a heavy draft class for defensive playmakers that include Nick Bosa and Josh Allen.
But those two are likely not going to be there for the Giants at No. 6. So who could the Giants select here? How about Mississippi State DE Montez Sweat?
Sweat was an NFL Combine star, running a blazing 40-yard dash time that opened many eyes that likely included the Giants as well. He may not have been a part of their 30 official visits, but he should be in consideration on their big board.
Is he someone worth betting on at sixth overall? Here are the pros and cons for the Giants to take Sweat…
Projected Pick: Top-15
Height: 6-foot-6, Weight: 260 pounds
College (Mississippi State career): 101 tackles, 22.5 tackles for loss, 30 sacks, 26 games
Combine: 4.41 40-yard dash, 21 bench reps, 36 vertical jump, 7.0 3-cone drill
Let’s just get this out of the way since you probably already know it about Sweat: The man is freakishly fast.
Standing at a massive 6-foot-6, 260 pounds, Sweat ran a 4.41 40-yard dash at the Combine, which made everyone present look at their stopwatches and compare just to make sure it wasn’t a mistake. Add in 21 bench reps and 36-inch vertical and Sweat put his rare athleticism on full display while raising his draft stock.
How could a man his size put up those types of numbers? It would all make sense if you knew his football past. Sweat came out of Stone Mountain, Ga. a tight end recruit to Michigan State in 2014. He was switched over to defense, but he was redshirted his freshman year. Then, he was suspended in his sophomore season for “undisclosed reasons,” according to NFL.com. A quick JUCO stint had Mississippi State call, and the rest is history.
He had a breakout junior season, and an even better senior year with 14.5 sacks and 12 sacks. Sweat’s strength in the pass rush game is his length, with a 35 ¾-inch wingspan and 10 ½-inch hands to use at the point of attack. And having the receiving background as a tight end, Sweat is more athletic than most tackles he works against. That mean he can get “skinny,” and use that length to separate from his blocker which he showcased throughout his late college career.
Sweat still has some more work to do, but NFL coaching should refine his skills to reach the best of his ability. Also, some scouts believe he can still grow into his tall frame, which is exciting stuff to play evaluators.
There aren’t many detriments to Sweat’s game to pull out, but one thing that can be said is his need for some development at the NFL level.
One of his big improvements that need to be made on the line is using his hands. Sweat’s athletic build normally makes him quicker than the man opposite him, which should result in him winning the battles. That was the case during Senior Bowl drills, where he dominated the one-on-one pass rushing.
However, those are against his equals. What’s going to happen when NFL veteran tackles are opposite him?
Being leaner than most edge rushers, Sweat has also shown to lack some power at the point of attack. That’s where hand technique will come into play next season, so he can offset not having the best body type to bullrush his blocker.
Other than that, Sweat’s suspension in his sophomore year was most likely questioned by the Giants to see if there are any off-the-field issues. He is also known to have a pre-existing heart condition that is minor. It could play a slight factor, though.
Between his combine numbers and stats at MSU, Sweat has proved to be one of the elite rushers in this draft class. He is athletic, tenacious, and gets the job done when it comes to getting the quarterback to the ground.
Sweat can work in any scheme, too, which is perfect for James Bettcher’s 3-4 system. Sweat would be a great replacement for Olivier Vernon as an outside linebacker, but he will need to produce to make that statement official.
Sweat’s pros entirely outweigh his cons, and don’t forget that evaluators still see him with room to grow into his one body, let alone his pass-rushing technique. We talked about potential with Michigan’s Rashan Gary in our last edition of these scouting reports, and Sweat has that marked over him as well.
The Giants could have a shot at Sweat at No. 6, but it would likely be pushing it at No. 17.