With the No. 26 pick in the 2019 NFL Draft, the Redskins traded up to select Montez Sweat, edge rusher out of Mississippi State. Looks like an NFL defensive end. Coming off a strong season at Mississippi State and only reconfirmed his ability to dominate at the Senior Bowl. Sweat uses his strength and hands to overpower offensive linemen and get into the backfield though he’ll need to prove he’s flexible enough to regularly win on the edge.
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Pete Prisco: Yeah, there’s issues. There were teams that took him off the board with concerns about the heart. The ability is there. The ability is phenomenal. He’s fast, he made a lot of plays. Had a great senior year. Controversial pick to keep an eye on going forward after Redskins gave up picks to trade back into first round.
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Dave Richard: The Redskins’ pick of Sweat reminds me a lot of their selection of Da’Ron Payne last year — just taking the best available player at a discounted price. There are obvious questions about Sweat’s health but the Redskins must not be worried about them. If he check out, Sweat should be a good pass rusher for them for years. And when you think about the Redskins’ front seven in 2019, there’s some serious potential. Their Week 1 date with the Eagles isn’t a good matchup for them, so I’d pass on drafting the DST, but they could be very good off waivers by Week 5 or 6. I’d like them more if their offense could step up. Sweat’s IDP value is not higher than a late-round pick.
NFL comparison: Danielle Hunter
Chris Trapasso: Hunter was a tall, somewhat lanky but freaky athlete who many believed had his best football in front of him once he got to the NFL. Despite his twitch and speed-to-power skills, there were questions about his bend around the corner. Everything I just wrote here applies to Sweat, and he’s coming off a 12-sack, 14.5-tackle-for-loss season at Mississippi State. Like Hunter, Sweat deploys his long arms ferociously, and his elite explosiveness translates to serious point-of-attack power. Because he’s pretty tall, Sweat isn’t the bendiest around the edge, but his motor never stops.
Ryan Wilson: Sweat played high school football in Georgia and committed to Michigan State. He appeared in one game as a freshman in 2014 and logged a sack. Sweat redshirted in 2015 and then transferred to Copiah-Lincoln Community College in Mississippi. Despite offers from LSU and Texas A&M, he committed to Mississippi State in 2017 where he had 10.5 sacks and 15.5 tackles for loss as a junior. Sweat returned for his senior season and improved on his sack totals: 12.5 to go along with 14.5 tackles for loss and a forced fumble.
Among all FBS edge rushers, Sweat ranked No. 1 in Pro Football Focus’ run-stop percentage, and he was ninth in their pass-rush productivity metric.
Ryan Wilson: Sweat looks like an NFL defensive end. He’s coming off a strong season at Mississippi State and only reconfirmed his ability to dominate at the Senior Bowl. He uses his strength and hands to overpower offensive linemen and get into the backfield though he’ll need to prove he’s flexible enough to regularly win on the edge.
Here’s Sweat showing off his strength in one-on-one drills at the Senior Bowl:
And here he is using his quickness to beat an offensive lineman off the snap:
Ryan Wilson: There are questions about whether Sweat has the flexibility to routinely get to quarterbacks at the top of the arc, and if he can consistently disengage from offensive lineman in both the pass and run game.