Position: Edge defender
Weight: 269 pounds
School: Louisiana Tech Bulldogs
Jaylon Ferguson 2019 NFL Draft Profile
In an era that’s increasingly seeing high school recruits wanting to play right off the bat in addition to players declaring for the draft early, Jaylon Ferguson did neither. The St. Francisville, LA native committed to Louisiana Tech despite a few Power Five scholarship offers. He certainly ended his high school career a bit undersized for a defensive end at just 230 pounds. So he sat out his freshman season in Ruston while bulking up in the weight room.
The following year saw him make a rather noticeable impact despite making just five starts. His six sacks were tied for the team lead while he led the team outright with 15 tackles for loss. He garnered Freshman All-American honors from the FWAA and The Sporting News for his efforts. He brought that momentum into his redshirt sophomore campaign. It was the first of multiple historical marks Ferguson would set. He ultimately finished the season with 14.5 sacks which broke a school record dating back to 1986.
Ferguson dealt with a nagging injury in 2017 and so his numbers dipped a tad. But he still started 11 of the 12 games he played in and managed to lead the Bulldogs in sacks (7.0) as well as tackles for loss (12.5). He also made some big plays on special teams, blocking two kicks which led all of Conference USA. A year later, Ferguson put together one of the most impressive seasons in the nation for an edge defender. He broke his own school record by tallying 17.5 sacks and finished his collegiate career with an FBS record 45. It led to C-USA naming him its Defensive Player of the Year while he also appeared on four All-American teams.
- excels at shedding blockers with good hand action and placement;
- displays plus initial burst and speed to power conversion;
- delivers a jolting initial punch to deleverage opposing lineman;
- has all the makings of a consistent disruptor on passing downs;
- utilizes an impressive stutter-step to discombobulate blockers;
- showcased playmaking ability on special teams with multiple blocked kicks;
- boasts extensive experience having made 43 starts during his college career;
- posted historic sack numbers in college.
- tends to carry his pad level a bit high which costs him leverage;
- needs to add more moves to his pass-rushing repertoire;
- has issues with read and react instincts on run plays;
- could improve as an edge bender;
- too often, linemen can anchor and guide him away from quarterback;
- tape doesn’t show much in terms of twists and stunts;
- might be more of a sub package end as opposed to an every-down player;
- some concerns about added bulk inhibiting his athleticism;
- needs to display more effort on a down-by-down basis.
- had an off-field incident as a freshman which caused him to get disinvited from the Combine.
NFL Comparison: Marcus Davenport
Teams With Need at Position: Arizona Cardinals, Atlanta Falcons, Baltimore Ravens, Buffalo Bills, Green Bay Packers, Miami Dolphins, New York Giants, New York Jets, Oakland Raiders, Philadelphia Eagles, San Francisco 49ers, Seattle Seahawks, Tennessee Titans, Washington Redskins
Projection: late first to early second round
Ferguson’s production in college was truly eye-popping. After all, he’s currently the FBS’ all-time career sacks leader, a distinction previously held by Terrell Suggs. When you get mentioned in the same breath as a future Hall of Famer, you’re doing something right. And like Suggs, Ferguson should be able to translate his ability to get at the quarterback to the pro level. His get-off after the snap is explosive and he uses extremely active hands to jerk opposing blockers out of his way. Though his instincts as a pass rusher are fine-tuned, his ability to key and diagnose on run plays need a little added honing. Still, teams in need of an instant impact edge player definitely have Ferguson high on their draft boards. He impressed at the Senior Bowl and if he can continue to turn heads during the pre-draft process, expect him to be a day one selection.