NFL Draft

2018 NFL Draft Player Profiles: Boston College OLB Harold Landry

From now until the 2018 NFL Draft takes place, we hope to showcase as many prospects as possible and examine both their strengths and weaknesses. Most of these profiles will feature individuals that the Pittsburgh Steelers are likely to have an interest in, while a few others will be top-ranked players. If there is a player you would like us to analyze, let us know in the comments below.

#7 Harold Landry/EDGE/Boston College 6’3”, 250 Lbs

The Good

-Elite first step from either side of the line
-Chews up a ton of ground getting off the ball at the snap
-Able to keep pad level low and maintain balance/speed around the edge
-Sets edge well against the run using leverage and extension against OTs
-Very productive pass rusher from either side of the defense
-Twitched up athlete that is a fluid mover
-Good arm length for position

The Bad

-Lacks counter moves built off of initial rush when speed fails
-Relies too much on athleticism and speed as a rusher
-Doesn’t have consistent technique as a rusher in terms of hand fighting/spin moves
-Inconsistent at converting speed to power
-Had a hard time staying on the field due to injuries in final season

Bio

-Set the Boston College single-season record with 16.5 sacks in 2016
-Second in the BC record book with 26.0 career sacks
-47.5 career tackles for a loss rank second in BC history while his 22.0 in 2016 were second all-time in a single season
-Played in 47 career games for Eagles
-Forced 10 fumbles while at BC
-Missed four games in 2017 due to ankle injury, forcing him to bypass on Senior Bowl

Tape Breakdown

Pop on the tap of Harold Landry at Boston College over the last four seasons and you’ll come away amazed with his speed and athleticism on the edge, but absolutely bewildered that he doesn’t have a plan as to how to rush the passer, other than using his speed to win more often than not.

While that works in college (as evidenced by his monstrous 2016 season), Landry has to develop a plan as a pass rusher that includes counters when his speed around the edge doesn’t work against longer, more athletic tackles in the NFL.

Make no mistake though:  some of Landry’s bursts around the edge are electrifying. I truly don’t know how a tackle can consistently stop it in the NFL, just because of how low he can get, making the punch area for tackles super small, allowing him to get underneath their reach for sacks.

Against Wake Forest in 2016 and 2017, Landry was an absolute nightmare of a pass rusher, toying with both the left and right tackle each season.

Just look at the way he gets off the ball so fast, dips his right shoulder right before the tackle punches, keeps his balance and maintains his speed around the corner for the big sack at home.

Although Landry doesn’t use his hands well, he has shown flashes of having the ability to use his hands well a rusher over the last two years.

Taking on the eventual National Champions in Clemson during the 2016 season, Landry had a great game rushing from the left end position against Clemson right tackle Sean Pollard.

Early in the rush, following a great first step, Landry clubs Pollard’s hands down, allowing Landry to soften the edge some for his rush. With Pollard’s hands down and Landry even with him, he’s able to dip his shoulder and sprint around the edge to sack Deshaun Watson.

Plays like this lead me to believe he can be taught to use his hands at an elite level, making him nearly unblockable.

One more example of him using his hands here, and it might be my favorite one I’ve seen from Landry.

This is one of the few times that Landry actually counters his initial speed rush (sort of). He knows quickly that he won’t beat the Virginia Tech tackle around the edge, so he fires his right arm into the chest of the Hokie tackle, extending quickly to overpower him into the lap of the VT quarterback.

He doesn’t look super strong on tape, but here he was simply a bully that showed some explosion to his game, in terms of strength.

When reading up on Landry this season, I saw too many times that he was soft against the run when it comes to setting the edge. While watching tape, I simply didn’t see that at all. Sure, he’s not going to stack and shed a ton, but he wasn’t asked to for the BC defense. What he did consistently was clog up rushing lanes by getting underneath his blocker, locking his arms out and controlling the blocker, moving him where he wanted him to go.

There seems to be a theme with Landry against Wake Forest, but bear with me here.  Yes, it’s certainly fair for one to read this piece and wonder if he just dominated lesser competition like Wake Forest, but Landry’s the real deal.

He has traits that pop on tape against the best of them. Here against the Demon Deacons, he’s able to flatten out the edge against the run, keeping the blocker stuck in a tough spot to slow down the back behind him, which leads to the tackle for loss. While he doesn’t make the stop, his play on the edge is integral to the TFL.

Did I mention he’s a freak athlete?

Landry is going to blow up the combine. He’s a twitched-up athlete and moves very well for his size and position.

Here in the bowl game against Maryland, the Terrapins continuously tried to cut block Landry on the edge to get his hands down, but the BC product is so lite and athletic on his feet that he avoided the cut blocks a lot.

On this particular play, look at how he avoids the cut, gets his hands up quickly and picks off the pass all in one motion. You can’t teach that.

Overall, Landry certainly deserves a ton of hype in the draft class. He reminds me a ton of Atlanta Falcons defensive end Vic Beasley when he was coming out of Clemson, where he was an unrefined pass rusher that relied on speed and athleticism to win. It took Beasley a full year in the NFL to learn the nuances of the position, but look at him now.

I think Landry can follow the same path to success, should he land in the correct situation.

Projection:  Mid Day 1

Games Watched:  vs. FSU (’15), vs. Clemson (’16), vs. Maryland (’16), vs. Virginia Tech (’16), vs. Wake Forest (’16), at Virginia Tech (’17), at Clemson (’17), vs. Notre Dame (’17), vs. Wake Forest (’17)

Previous 2018 NFL Draft Player Profiles
Sam DarnoldGarret DooleyCalvin RidleyFred WarnerRonald Jones II
Maurice HurstMike McCrayDeShon Elliott Malik JeffersonOgbo Okoronkwo
Trayvon HendersonJosh RosenRonnie HarrisonKallen BallageCedric Wilson Jr.
Micah KiserWill HernandezLeighton Vander EschJosh Allen 
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