The “Real” Montez Sweat Review

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The NFL combine is a great place for prospects to improve their draft stock and for one Montez Sweat, that’s exactly what he did. He dropped jaws when he set the record in the 40 yard dash for defensive lineman with a 4.41 official time. I feel like experts can oogle at 40 times a little too much and that causes them to lose objectivity in the moment of the combine. The most important time when it comes to defensive lineman is the ten yard split and that’s where he wowed me. His split was 1.55 which is lightning acceleration and proof that his first step is elite. That’s what I took away from his combine that his tape didn’t always show.

Sweat has truly great length, burst, and works with his hands in an elite way to fight off lineman and make plays in the run and pass game. Looking at edge defenders, it’s more important than ever to not look at sacks and take that as an answer for him being a great DE/OLB in the NFL. Sweat totaled 23 sacks in his two seasons at Mississippi State. He found his rhythm near the midpoint of his first season at Miss St and carried it into his final year, but then it trailed off toward the end against better competition. He’s projecting as a 4-3 defensive end and that would fit perfectly with what the Chiefs need in this draft.

Among the things Sweat does well, quite a few of them come against the run. His first step allows him to surprise offensive lineman and get into gaps and running lanes quickly. His length allows him to keep lineman at a distance and throw them off when a running back comes his way. But his gap shooting is very fun to watch.

Sweat takes one step to the outside of the formation and then uses it to thrust himself into the running lane, confusing the tackle in front of him. In the process he gets too far up field but his length makes up for this error. He is able to lung back to the running back and wraps him up with his huge wingspan, recording the tackle for short gain.

Not only can Sweat avoid blocks, but he has the strength to lock up with lineman and move when he needs to. Gap shooting is important in an aggressive defense and it could potentially help him hone his pass rushing in the NFL; make it more consistent. But his ability in the run game is why he should be on the Chiefs radar in the first round of the draft. It doesn’t take a genius to know the run defense was abysmal and Sweat could help improve that.

Sweat clearly has blazing speed, and that helps him close the gaps between himself and the quarterback, which not only can get him sacks but it also speeds up a quarterback’s internal clock which can benefit the defense more than sacks.

Sweat uses his length to push the offensive lineman off his spot initially,this allows him do what he wants to with the tackle. Being off balance doesn’t bode well for lineman, and Sweat uses it to his advantage. He doesn’t have great or even good bend as an edge rusher, but pushing the tackle around allows him to use his speed to get around and find a path to the quarterback. He takes too long to throw the ball and Sweat forces an incompletion, next time it could be a fumble or an interception depending on when he gets to the quarterback.

There is one caveat with Sweat, he has little no bend and doesn’t show well with having to change direction. He’s never going to be a 3-4 OLB because his hips are stiff and can’t cover at all. The coverage isn’t an issue for the Chiefs because they are finally switching to a 4-3 defense. But here’s what I mean about the bend.

You can see how explosive Sweat’s first step is on this clip, he gets to the tackle almost immediately and the impressiveness expires just as quickly. He tries to dip under the tackle but his flexibility prevents this from being a clean movement and he gets stuck with his shoulders all wonky. You can see him trying to keep his balance with his off hand because the tackle knows Sweat is stuck and just has to keep pushing him and Sweat can’t shed the block.

This is the biggest issue for me, his inflexibility in his hips makes him easy to read if he goes outside the tackle to try getting around a block. He can sometimes rely too much on his speed to get around corners which results in him getting run out of the play. Now, he has a few good pass rush counters like push/pull and rip/slap moves that he’s developed and found success with. He needs to refine his outside moves, but his speed should help that along.

I wasn’t overly impressed with Sweat’s film; in big games I felt he disappeared a little too much in the pass rush game. In the Bowl game against Iowa he played basically the whole game and had one tackle to show for it. Iowa is known for running the football, as most Big Ten teams have been in the past, and they have a big offensive line. He didn’t rise to the challenge and it showed. I’m not saying he isn’t a first round talent, if he should slide to the Chiefs that would likely be a result of his heart condition, although he was allowed to participate in the combine drills without limitations.

Sweat would certainly help the Chiefs in the run game and could be an asset to new defensive line coach Brendan Daley. If anyone could coach him up, Daley can do it and I would like to see Sweat a Chief, just wouldn’t trade up too high for him. If he were to fall in the range of six to seven picks from the Chiefs I would get behind that move.

From the Peanut Gallery

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Spider
Spider
03/23/2019 2:09 am

240# seems a little light for DL.

BleedingRedAndGold
03/22/2019 4:03 pm

Not gonna say this applies to Sweat, but as I recall, one of the early knocks on Ford was that he had little in the way of “bend”, and at the time people were saying we were screwed, because “you can’t teach/coach bend”. I believe it was his second season where the player who had no bend and never would because it couldn’t be taught had found a good amount of bend. Musta been by magic, I guess.

So Sweat isn’t Ford, but I don’t believe that he’s necessarily stuck with the bend he’s shown so far. In addition, I don’t believe that “stiff hips” is purely a product of how his body is put together, his understanding of how to operate the machine that is his body plays a role, as well. Hali turned to martial arts to improve his hand-fighting, perhaps something like Akido or Jujitsu could help Sweat. He might never have great bend, but I don’t see that he’s necessarily barred from learning/improving at least somewhat.

How would your evaluation of him change if you saw him with a little bit of bend rather than virtually none, Dan? That’s a hypothetical projection, of course, but the difference between the impact of going from “none” to “some” can be greater than the impact of going from “some” to “a lot”, depending on what’s being discussed. Ammunition’s one topic like that. The difference between having no bullets and one bullet is greater than 1 bullet vs. a 10-round magazine.

BleedingRedAndGold
Reply to  Daniel Harms
03/22/2019 4:20 pm

Well, how much bend he can learn, I dunno, but I think he could learn to have at least a little of it, with the right training. While I’m at it, the more I think about the topic, the more I wonder what the basis for the CW of “you can’t teach bend”. It’s starting to sound like “you can’t teach others how to their bodies in new ways” to me. If that were true, dance couldn’t be taught, or acrobatics, or even martial arts.

Maybe I’m wrong and there’s a factual reason why, but I can’t see it.

hmills110
hmills110
Reply to  Daniel Harms
03/23/2019 2:24 am

All this talk about “bend,” when I see plenty of bend in the featured run-defense highlight. Dude is plenty flexible and most of all, QUICK. That Harms guy criticized him on that play, but that play looked absolutely perfect to me, because if that had been a pass play, it was a sack in the making, with beautiful, quick penetration, and the quickness at the end of the play to finish if he can just get in its vicinity. And he WAS in the vicinity of the ball and broke off an excellent pass rush penetration to make a stop on the runningback for 3 yards, with 5 or 6 yards to gain (off memory, the sticks were past where the ball carrier was dropped by Sweat.

I’d just have to see him in those big bowl games. The GIF where Harms was critical of Sweat’s bend, I saw Sweat turning the corner at right about the depth the QB wanted to set up, and there was no hesitation by the QB to step up as his foot hit the ground at the end of his drop. IOW, the QB had no extra time to set up, Sweat forced him off his spot, and the rest was just “What can the other guys get done, now that the QB’s into his pocket climb?” I’m seeing a good player and I’m reading about all his flaws.

Ford was on the light side, too, and although he’s found himself as an edge rusher, he’s just not big, like Houston and Hali were.

I’m just not sure because I haven’t looked at him against a spectrum of OLs I know something about, but just from the highlights, he looks like he’s built stronger than Ford, and his quick reactions and change-of-direction when he’s got the scent just seem higher football-IQ than Ford’s did at the same point.

hmills110
hmills110
Reply to  Daniel Harms
03/23/2019 10:19 pm

I listen to the experts and then speak to what I see. To my poor eye, Sweat looks like he has more power and maybe more foundation to build more. I wouldn’t say Terrell Suggs or even Justin Houston had great “bend,” but you factor in the quick-twitch and power, you see guys who get where they want to go pretty damn quickly. But like I said, here, or somewhere else, he got panned for his performance in bowl games against the bigger OTs. When I watched Dee Ford film, pre-draft, I thought his “linearity” was pretty glaring. He showed more flexibility as a pro, almost immediately. He mainly had to work on his awareness. Anyway, I had alternate takes on all the highlight GIF critiques by the Harms guy. Looked like a dominant player, to me, and the criticism seemed more like 2nd-hand opinions cut-and-pasted into a Tweet. Doesn’t mean that’s what it was. Just my taek. 240 seems light for a DE. But if he plays bigger than his listed weight, like a James Harrison, that might not matter. Even at 250 or 255, I thought Ford played too “small” to play as much DE as he did in Sutton’s D. Maybe that’s why I’ve evolved to more of a 3-4 or 3-3 kind of fan. I like letting LBs be LBs, even the ones that are mostly just rushing the passer on every down. As a Derrick Thomas fan, I hated when they ran out of DEs and made him play DE full-time, after bungling the salary cap and losing Neil Smith, in particular. And I didn’t even care if Dee Ford was all that great at setting edge, if all he did all day was deny the 2nd move down the field with relentless pressure on the QB. If you KNOW the QB’s not going to have more than a couple of seconds with the ball, it changes everything in your favor. Sutton tried to cover all his bases and that gave rise to structural problems on the D. People used to bitch because DT58 was… Read more »

Berserker
Berserker
Reply to  hmills110
03/24/2019 2:09 am

Well, I think you remember “reading about all his flaws” more than you remember the good stuff, just because the flaws part of the review was the last part of the review.

That Harms guy wrote plenty of good things about that Sweat guy, too.

I know it’s bland, but I agree with both you guys. I see plenty to like about Sweat, and I hope we can draft him. I think the Chiefs coaches might see a fit, too, despite Sweat’s lack of weight, because of Spags’ supposed preference for taller defenders. But at the same time, like that Harms guy said, I would be cautious about trading up for him, considering his apparent drop in production against the best competition, and considering all our other defensive needs and all the good defensive players in this draft.

CJ_Spiller
CJ_Spiller
03/22/2019 3:55 pm

No bend and also CHICKEN LEGS. I see Kpass 2.0.

hmills110
hmills110
Reply to  CJ_Spiller
03/23/2019 10:19 pm

He’s much quicker than KPass.

ChiefUdall
ChiefUdall
03/22/2019 11:52 am

I feel he is a guy you take if he falls to us, but not worth trading up for.

Mattl
Mattl
Reply to  ChiefUdall
03/22/2019 11:58 am

That’s pretty much where I am too. The only pass rusher (aside from Bosa and Josh Allen) that I’d be in favor of possibly trading up for is Brian Burns. Ferrell and Sweat are in the “take them if they’re available at 29” category for me.

Anthony Stratton
Reply to  Mattl
03/22/2019 1:07 pm

Yeah, same here.

I’m having a really hard time moving away from a CB in the 1st, but I think signing Breeland put EDGE as the clearly defined #1 need in the draft.

The problem is, we’re probably going to have to trade into the early teens to get him regardless…so now its who’s in range, and what does it take to get him…

Mattl
Mattl
Reply to  Daniel Harms
03/22/2019 1:18 pm

What about a guy like Ed Oliver? He’s officially an interior DL. But he’s got the flexibility to play anywhere on the line. How far would he have to fall for you to consider trading up?

Anthony Stratton
Reply to  Mattl
03/22/2019 1:25 pm

I’m thinking we end up looking to move into the 12-15 range for “our guy”…just don’t know who that is yet lol.

Mattl
Mattl
Reply to  Anthony Stratton
03/22/2019 1:28 pm

We need an AG pool, listing 10-12 various players to vote on who we trade up for. (And no matter who Veach wants, there’s a decent possibility that that player is gone before we have a chance to make the trade anyway.)

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