Boesen played most of his snaps last season behind James McFarland and Josh Carraway at TCU but was certainly productive when he got on the field, registering 6 sacks on the season. He shows great effort and hustle and has a peculiar knack of making shoestring tackles; I can’t actually recall a prospect making so many, which speaks volumes for his desire and refusal to quit on a play. It must be acknowledged, though, that lots of his most influential plays came when he was either unblocked or when the play broke down and he was able to use his hustle in pursuit. He seems like a decent D-1 athlete, without possessing the power or explosiveness to make a difference at the next level. He will also need to move to OLB if he is to have an NFL career; he has the frame to carry an extra 15lbs or so but not much more than that and he looks pretty skinny at the collegiate level. I could see him being brought to camp primarily in a special teams role, as he does have the “want-to” that makes a good special teams guy. I don’t, though, see him as a draftable prospect, going into the 2017 season.
This is a tricky one. Smith looks to me like he could, if given the opportunity, blossom into a really strong edge player. In 2016, however, due to deficiencies on the Baylor D-Line, he found himself playing mainly as a 3-tech, which doesn’t really play to his strengths – there were times he was simply overwhelmed by guards who weighed 60 pounds more than he did. It is to his credit as a football player that he did a more than serviceable job inside, weighing 260-265 pounds, and it also speaks highly of his commitment to the team ethic. He projects, however, as an excellent edge player at the next level. He is a strong, powerful, explosive athlete, who is relentless in his pursuit of the football. He shows tenacity and skill as a pass rusher, with the ability to make himself skinny through traffic. His sack in the Cactus Bowl, in which he defeated pretty much the whole right side of the Boise State line, shows these skills in abundance. Matt Rhule, the new Baylor coach, has promised to allow him to operate on the edge this season, in order to maximise his NFL value – that value could, after the 2017 season, be considerable.
Armstrong had exceptional production, on a weak Kansas team, in 2016, his sophomore season. He registered 56 tackles, 20 tackles for loss and 10 sacks, so I was excited to get into his tape. The first word that springs to mind when you watch Armstrong is ‘opportunistic’. On quite a few of his splash plays, the play came towards him, rather than him actively making anything happen; his sack and forced fumble against Texas is an excellent example. There are times, however, when you see some real flashes from Armstrong. His spin move is pretty good (see Q1 6:24 v Oklahoma State) and he shows some bend and speed when he comes off the edge. He has long arms, which he employs to good effect to keep blockers off him and his instincts are better than average. He is not, however, an explosive pass rusher – indeed, he often appears positively slow off the ball. This is problematic, not just vs the pass but against the run as well. Indeed, this is an area of the game where he is close to a liability. He needs a lot more sand in his pants to anchor and set the edge in the run game. I’d be surprised if he were to replicate his success as a sophomore in his junior season, as I see him, overall, as a pretty limited player who should be seen, at this point, purely as a pass rush specialist.