+That’s an insane build over there >>
+Ideal height and length
+Delivers hits that could kill someone
+Insane straight line quickness for his size
-Needs to improve hand usage
-Too tall to get great leverage
-Mediocre lateral quickness
-Mediocre change of direction skills
-Blocks tons of kicks, but doesn’t deflect many passes for a guy with his length
Southern Methodist defensive end Margus Hunt is a fun guy to scout. His potential is off the charts. His story is fascinating. But he has a lot, and I mean a lot, to learn about the game of football.
Hunt has insane measurables. At 6’8, to my memory, he is the tallest player I have ever scouted. He combines his height with incredibly long arms (82 inch wingspan), insane strength, good bulk at 295lbs, and amazing speed with a 4.74 40 yard dash, according to NFLDraftScout.com. Those numbers are absolutely insane. On top of that, the man in the photo above is 295lbs. Looks pretty skinny, right? Well, muscle is denser than fat, so if a player looks heavier than his listed weight, there’s a good chance he has a high body fat percentage, and, if a player looks like Margus Hunt (the picture on his wikipedia page is insane), he has a remarkably low body fat percentage. Hunt is up there with Barkevious Mingo and Devin Taylor in terms of having the most insane, muscular builds of all draft prospects, Hunt having the edge right now. The guy is in amazing shape.
Hunt comes with a pretty interesting back story. A native of Estonia, Hunt attended Southern Methodist on a track scholarship, but, when SMU cut its track team, Hunt was left with no where to go but the football team. First of all, he was a really good track athlete. He held a Junior Olympic World Record for longest discus throw (since broken) and won numerous Junior Olympic Gold Medals. One positive sign is that this guy never failed as a track star and went with football for lack of a better option. He gave up his promising track career for a football career, which is a good sign that he really loves the game. He’s very inexperienced, but he plays very hard and is very intense. Plus, after years in track, he wasn’t condition as a college football player. He was conditioned as an Olympian. He never had to work on certain things important for football such as flexibility and speed training, and he will only get better as a football player as he changes his workout regimen to be more football based and he develops a football body.
Hunt has poor stats. In 2012, he had 31 tackles, 11 TFL’s, and 8 sacks in 13 games. The sacks are nice, but you’d really like to see more tackles from a guy of his strength. He only had 28 tackles in 2011. Still, given how raw and inexperienced he is, it’s fairly understandable at this point in his career.
Hunt is a solid pass rusher with the potential to be great. First of all, one thing stands out from Hunt when he rushes the quarterback: he could kill someone. I have never seen a guy who hits quarterbacks with as much power as Hunt. He could seriously inspire fear in quarterbacks at the NFL level, because if you get hit by him, you’re scared next time you drop back to pass. It’s really nice. And it will help him force fumbles at the NFL level. Hunt is also a solid athlete, but there are a few things to keep in mind. Hunt is 6’8. Taller players tend to have less quickness and fluidity than shorter players, but they are very long striders who can cover a lot of ground. Hunt is no exception. His straight line speed is insane, and, unlike most taller players, he accelerates fairly quickly and gets an above average jump off the ball, but he doesn’t change directions with ease and can’t dominate with surprising stutter step moves to get offensive linemen off balance in the way that a guy like Jarvis Jones can. For that reason, his athleticism means an effective speed rush and nothing else. In addition, they say the low man wins in football. Hunt is 6’8. He’s fairly flexible, but, given that he isn’t the most flexible man on the planet, he can’t really get low and expect to dominate with leverage as a pass rusher. So where’s the potential? Hand usage. Hunt has amazing potential if he can learn how to use his hands to shed blocks. Hand usage is all about controlling the arms of opposing offensive linemen. To dominate with hand usage, a player needs three things: Long arms to hit the arms of your opponent before he hits you (82 inch wingspan… umm… check), the strength necessary to move your opponents arms out of the way and create penetration (35 bench reps at 225lbs, so … umm… check), and a wide array of pass rush moves to keep the offensive lineman guessing (0 is not exactly a wide array, so x). But that last one can be improved. Hunt’s fundamentals are poor at this point, but if he were to incorporate some pass rush moves into his arsenal and learn how to use his length and strength to create penetration, he could be amazing. The day he’s drafted he’ll already have the best combination of length and strength of any player in the NFL. The question is can he learn how to use it. If he does, he has more potential to dominate with his hands than any other player I have ever seen. I don’t expect his fundamentals to ever be perfect (if he got to that point, he could get 200 sacks), but if his hand usage becomes at least respectable, he’ll make some pro bowls in the NFL. On the downside, you’d like to see a guy with Hunt’s length bat down more passes (though he blocks tons of kicks), but, if I were coaching him, I would tell him not to try and penetrate when he sees a three step drop and simply try to deflect the pass in a J.J. Watt/David Bass like manner. Still, he has lots of potential as a pass rusher.
Hunt is below average against the run. To start off, he really has no means by which to penetrate against the run. Given that he is too tall to get good leverage, he can’t penetrate against the run unless he learns how to use his hands to shed blocks, and, until then, he’s not going to be an impact player against the run. He could be neutral if his instincts improved, but his poor instincts are understandable given his lacks of experience and should improve in due time. Part of the problem with his instincts is a result of the fact that he tries to penetrate with leverage (again, very difficult with his height), which means penetrating with your head down, and, if your head is facing the ground, it’s tough to locate the ball (Star Lotulelei has this problem). Again, that’s one of the great things about good hand usage. You can penetrate with your head up, which makes it easier to locate the ball (one of the reasons I love Kawann Short). The one thing that does sort of disappoint me with him against the run is that he doesn’t make many tackles in traffic. In theory, a guy with his strength and length should be able to make arm tackles in traffic, but I’m yet to see him flash the ability to do so. He doesn’t attempt many, and it may be a result of his mediocre on field awareness, but you’d like to see him being a bit more consistent in this area. One other issue; like many tall defensive ends, his lateral quickness is unspectacular and his range is less than ideal. On the bright side, he’s a good open field tackler. Still, he has some work to do against the run.
Hunt’s a fun guy to scout with off the charts potential. I’ve never seen anyone like him. He could really be a great player in the NFL, but, in my mind, it all depends on whether or not he learns how to use his hands. Still, the potential is there.
NFL Comparison: He’s really unusual. He’s size, strength, and athleticism can’t be compared to that of any player in the NFL. But, gun to my head, a raw Mario Williams.
Grade: 90 (worthy of a late first to early second round pick)
Projection: 90 (after he breaks records at the combine, he’ll be a late first to early second round pick)