Each day leading up to the 2018 NFL draft, I’ll break down one of my top 50 prospects. In some cases, we had to make tough omissions because of injuries, poor pre-draft workouts or incomplete information. For more complete scouting reports on all the prospects, check out the Pro Football Weekly 2018 Draft Guide, which is available for order now.
12. Boston College DE Harold Landry
6-foot-2, 252 pounds
Key stats: Set the BC single-season sack record with 16.5 in 2016 and ranks second in school history with 26 in his career. Also became only the third college football player over the past four seasons with a trio of three-sack games, along with Myles Garrett and Derek Barnett.
The skinny: Top-200 national recruit out of North Carolina who accepted offer from Boston College over many programs, including Ohio State, Florida State, Miami (Fla.) and Clemson. Landry played in all 13 games as a true freshman, recording 11 tackles (1.5 for loss). Appeared in all 12 games (11 starts, including the final nine games) for the top-ranked yardage defense in the country in 2015 and recorded 60 tackles (15.5 for loss), 4.5 sacks, three forced fumbles and a fumble recovery in earning all-ACC honorable mention by the league’s coaches.
Landry’s true breakout season came in 2016, when he was named to several All-America teams in leading the nation with seven forced fumbles and 16.5 sacks, ranking fifth nationally with 22 tackles for loss and also recorded four pass breakups and an interception in 13 games (12 starts). Opted to return to school in 2017 and played in eight games before suffering a season-ending ankle injury. Landry totaled 38 ackles (8.5 for loss), five sacks and two pass breakups in being named third-team All-ACC.
Opted not to play in the Senior Bowl. Performed all the athletic testing drills at the NFL scouting combine and worked out as both a defensive lineman and linebacker in positional drills.
Upside: Excellent athletic traits for the position, including a scalding 40-yard dash (4.64 seconds) and 10-yard split (1.59). Even compared to linebackers, his 3-cone drill (6.88 seconds), 20-yard (4.19) and 60-yard shuttle (11.35 seconds) are exceptional. For defensive ends, they are extremely rare. Nice stat here, courtesy of PFW contributor Jeff Feyerer from the Inside the Pylon 2018 Draft Guide: Only two edge rushers 250 pounds or heavier tied or bested Landry’s 40 and 3-cone numbers — Jordan Willis in 2017 and DeMarcus Ware in 2005. Also very nice vertical (36 inches) and broad jump (119) numbers that indicate explosive athletic ability.
Looked like an absolute star in 2016 — and surprised many by returning to school. Watch a play from that season as Landry dips underneath the block attempt of Clemson right tackle Jake Fruhmorgen (who is no longer with the program), turn the corner, run the arc, close on QB Deshaun Watson before the frontside guard can cut him off and finish with the gorgeous strip-sack:
Elite closer. Twitchy and sudden. Shocking stride length and bend. Active hands — 10 forced fumbles in 2015 and 2016 combined. Quick enough to rush and disrupt the screen game with his burst and direct paths to the quarterback. Can translate speed into power — flashed it at times, which is what he’ll have to do more of in the NFL lacking great mass or length. Bull-rush ability can’t be dismissed. Terrific change-of-direction skills helped him close on athletic quarterbacks or keep them hemmed in the pocket.
We didn’t see as many of this caliber of plays in 2017, but watch here in 2016 against Maryland as Landry avoids the cut block attempt, stays on his feet with his eyes up, reads the screen beautifully, intercepts the pass and shows some terrific athletic ability on the return:
Displayed the ability to drop into short zones, diagnose plays fairly well and close on the ball. Rushed from both sides of the line; lined up in two- and three-point stances; played 6-, 7- and 9-technique rusher and faced all kinds of chips and double teams from backs and tight ends, and he started getting creative to get past those. Worked out at linebacker and defensive line at the combine and looked fluid in both.
High motor. Good mental toughness to play through pain. Game-day performer who rises to the occasion. Obsessed with being great. Invites tough matchups. Chases down plays from the backside and has a winning mentality.
Downside: Small frame for the position — height, weight, arm length and hand size are all in the bottom 25 percent among combine edge rushers since the year 2000. Bench-press total (24 reps) not overly concerning but considered below-average for player with arms shorter than 33 inches. Tape backs it up at times — lacks strength at the point of attack.
Ankle injury cost him the final five games, but how much was it affecting him prior to that? Landry says he suffered the injury against Virginia Tech (a game in which he had three sacks), played through it a week later against Louisville and then rolled it early in the next game vs. Virginia, ending his season.
But even prior to that, his 2017 tape paled in comparison to what his displayed in 2016. Here’s the type of play that Landry would have finished with a sack in 2016, but in this 2017 game against Wake Forest he just can’t turn the corner and make the sack — he just flies right by:
Needs to keep building and expanding his pass-rush repertoire. Can tip his initial move and not offer quick enough countermoves. Hand usage must be better, especially with counters inside. Can’t just dip and rip every time — see here last season against Notre Dame right tackle Robert Hainsey, as Landry telegraphs his move and runs too wide an arc, making him far too easy to block out of the play:
BC kept him on a pitch count prior to the injury — about 40-50 snaps per game his first two seasons and about 55 per game last season. Some teams might view him as a designated pass rusher, which hurts his draft value.
Best-suited destination: Even if he starts off as a designated pass rusher early on, Landry should thrive and develop his game into being a disruptive edge presence. He could stand up and rush for 3-4 teams, but we like him just a tad better as a down rusher in an even front. The teams that might be highly interested in Landry include the Indianapolis Colts, San Francisco 49ers, Green Bay Packers, Cleveland Browns, New York Giants, Tampa Bay Buccaneers, New York Jets, Baltimore Ravens, Seattle Seahawks, Dallas Cowboys, Carolina Panthers, Buffalo Bills and Washington.
Quotable: “I think that nobody in this class has a first step like mine, the bend like mine and the burst to the quarterback like me. I am not saying I am perfect, there are plenty of things I can improve on in my game, but in this draft I do believe I am the best pass rusher.” — Landry, at the combine
Player comp: Vic Beasley
Expected draft range: Seventh to 15th overall