Suggs decided to come out and join the NFL a year early, which may have not been a bad idea. The stand out stat on Suggs is that he holds the NCAA record for sacks, 24, which he earned last season with Arizona. That's quite an accomplishment for a college defensive end. Suggs also filled his trophy case with the Lombardi Award, awarded to the nations top defensive linemen, the Hendricks Award, which is awarded to college football's best defensive end and the Nagurski award for the nations best defensive player.
Still, a player can receive all the awards in college football but that really doesn't mean much when they come to the NFL. Take a look at some of the past Heisman Trophy winners and you will see that winning awards doesn't guarantee success in the NFL. So will Suggs buck the trend and be a winner in the NFL? Or will he just be one of those marginal players who have an outstanding first year in the league and then fades away into oblivion?
Suggs had a knack, which almost seemed like a born instinct, of finding the quarterback and taking him down while in college. He constantly causes havoc in the backfield on passing plays either getting a sack or hurrying the quarterback causing him to make a bad play. Suggs has an uncanny ability for finding the ball and making the play whether it's a passing play or a running play. He is a great open field tackler as well. Along with this, he has an outstanding ability to change direction in pursuit of a play and remains fluid when making that change of direction.
Suggs has incredible speed both straight up the field and laterally and ran a 4.65 40-yard dash at the combine last month. He has exceptional quickness and a real burst when coming of the line. He has a strong upper body, which helps make up for a lack of strength and size in his lower body.
Suggs does have a few weaknesses to point out and one of them was mentioned previously and it is that he lacks a great amount of lower body strength. He will have to work on this as time goes on. He also has some trouble getting out of blocks and might need to work on his technique a little bit to break out of those blocks, especially in the NFL where offensive linemen are larger, faster and stronger than those in college.
Another knock on Suggs is that he lacks the "optimum" size for a defensive end in the NFL. The average of all the defensive ends in the NFL is 6'5" in height with a weight at 290 pounds. Suggs comes in at almost 6'3" (6'2" 5/8) with a weight of 262. He can add some bulk if need be sometime down the road. He does have a disadvantage in size with offensive linemen in the NFL but hopefully his upper body strength will make up for some of that.
Overall, Sugg's strengths greatly outweigh the few weaknesses he has. Most all of those weaknesses can be taken care of within a short amount of time, like improving skills to beat blockers and adding some weight. All this can be done after he is in the league and well on his way. It would be a mistake for the Bears to pass Suggs up, if he is available, as he would certainly be the best player to be the best fit with the Bears.
So what existing NFL player would Suggs compare to? Matching up size and speed with playing style and Suggs looks like young Jevon Kearse. They both have similar body styles with the long arm reach and upper body strength. Kearse is an outstanding pass rusher, his strong suit, as is Suggs. They both have a tremendous move up the field and a knack for finding the ball. That would give Suggs a lot to live up to, but for the fourth pick in the draft that isn't asking too much. We shall see.
Next time we'll review Penn State defensive tackle Jimmy Kennedy.