What you're seeing above are the senior highlights of California's latest commit Kennedy Emesibe, but BearTerritory has looked deeper at a library of tape on Emesibe to give you Bears fans a bit of a closer look into the type of player Emesibe is.
• Raw power
• Plus-plus length
• Inconsistent pad level
What's to Like
At 6-foot-4, 235 pounds, Emesibe has arms and legs for days. Playing both inside at the three-technique and at the five-technique, he gets his hands and arms into passing lanes. He had two blocked kicks this past season, again, due to his tremendous length. That length, though, is not at the expense of size and power, as it tended to be with former Bear defensive end Chris McCain. Emesibe can cover so much ground with his long strides that he shows some very good closing speed on runs to the outside, and running backs who squirt away up the middle. In some clips, he's also shown playing a bit of outside linebacker, and at his size, he's well-suited for it, which could work out fairly well in college, particularly if Cal tries him at rush end.
When Emesibe does play with good pad level -- which is not always the case -- he's pretty tough to stop. Those long legs aren't just there for show. He generates a lot of drive and push when he plays behind his pads, whether that's at the three-technique or the five-technique.
Because of his strength, Emesibe sheds blocks well, and can disengage quickly when he needs to range out to the edge to stop a play or take someone down from behind, which he does often. Watching Emesibe take a runner down from behind is like watching a lion take down a gazelle -- he wraps up the legs and lower body, and then death-rolls them to the ground, using his sheer bulk to drag them down and then adding a twist at the end. It's a very sound technique that he also uses when taking down quarterbacks in the backfield, head-up.
What Needs Work
As I said earlier, Emesibe's pad level is up-and-down, literally. When he trusts his leg drive and plays behind his pads, he's a freight train, and though he succeeds even in his highlights while opening up his chest, that's not going to cut it at the next level. Right now, he's just flat-out stronger and longer than the guards and tackles he's facing, so he can get away with lifting up. It shows up fairly often in his 2012 tape, his 2013 tape and his one-on-ones at the NFTC this past summer. There is improvement, to be sure, and again, the ability is there; he just needs to trust his legs on a more consistent basis.
I couldn't decide whether his versatility is a good thing or a bad thing. On the one hand, Emesibe is very, very bright, and perceptive. Playing multiple positions in high school, with a mind like that, would incline one to believe that he's learned a lot about defense as a whole. The problem with paying outside linebacker, defensive tackle and defensive end is that he hasn't really gotten a chance to polish up any of those three spots. At end, he'll have to play low and get under a tackle's pads at times, and while playing tall on the inside allows him to use his length to plug up the middle, trying to go nose-to-nose with a tackle that has three inches and 50 pounds on him won't be a good strategy.
Lastly, his stride length at the point of attack seems a bit on the long side, which sacrifices quickness and suddenness. He clearly has speed, and much of that is because of those long gams, but his first step needs to be quicker to allow him the full range of his pass rush movements.