There’s no doubt that Florida defensive end Dante Fowler is one of the most talented players in the 2015 NFL Draft. He’s physical, fast, and aggressive. However, his aggressive nature can hinder his a productivity at times. Fowler moves at such a frenetic pace that he finds himself out of position at times — this causes him to miss big plays in the backfield that would make his stat sheet look a little prettier.
There are a few occasions where Fowler misses plays that a prospect of his caliber should make — due to his over-aggression at times. Let’s run through a few of them.
Fowler is for too quick for the tight end on this play — it’s good to see that Fowler can be just as explosive out of a 2-point stance as a 3-point stance, that bodes well for his ability to play 3-4 outside linebacker at the next level.
The issue comes at the point of attack where he’s supposed to make the tackle. Fowler comes in so fast, and a bit out of control, that he can’t set his feet, wrap up, and bring down the ball carrier. However, it is good to see him showcase his athleticism and effort as he chases T.J. Yeldon to the sideline with the help of his teammates.
Here’s another play from Florida’s game versus Alabama — another instance in which Fowler comes in a bit out of control.
Fowler should’ve made the sack on this play. He comes up the field so fast, and such a poor angle, that he misses the opportunity for a sack on Alabama quarterback Blake Sims. Once again, Fowler needs to slow down, break down, and bring down the quarterback.
On a side note — Fowler shows some situational unawareness on this play. Blake Sims is a mobile quarterback, which is something Fowler should know coming into the game. Usually a technique known as a “mush rush” is used to neutralize the threat of quarterbacks with running abilities. This involves the defense slowly rushing up the field, to keep running lanes closed for the quarterback.
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However, Fowler is so aggressive that he zips up the field after eluding the tight end and fullback and comes in completely out of the control. When he reaches the quarterback, look at his body position. One foot on the ground, the other kicked out in the air behind him, and he’s committing the cardinal sin of arm tackling — completely off-balance and out of position.
As his combine numbers show, Fowler is more than capable athletically to make this play, he just needs to control himself at the point of attack.
As a defensive lineman, this is what you dream about. A miscommunication by the offensive line leaves Dante Fowler wide open for the kill shot on Jameis Winston. Untouched up the middle.
Yet Fowler’s aggressive nature hurts him again in this situation. If Fowler makes this sack, and the sack in the previous clip, it gives him 10.5 sacks on the season — a number that aesthetically looks better than 8.5 sacks when gauging the talent level of a potential top-five selection.
The only red flag I see in Dante Fowler’s game is his inability to decelerate at the point of attack with the ball carrier in the backfield. If he could just tone down his over aggressiveness and reel it in a bit, Fowler could be a stat sheet stuffer at the next level.
All this being said, this is a coachable problem and it shouldn’t stop Dante Fowler from being a high first round selection on draft night.