2014 NFL Draft Prospect to Watch: USC DE Morgan Breslin

USC’s Morgan Breslin is one of the top pass-rushers in the 2014 draft class. (Photo: USA Today Sports Images)

BBD Staff Writer: Joe Marino

After 28 sacks in two seasons at junior college, Morgan Breslin took his talents to the University of Southern California to test his ability against the FBS ranks.

The result was a very strong junior season that included 62 tackles (19.5 for loss) and 13 sacks.

After finishing third in sacks nationally last season, Breslin is one of the nation’s top pass-rushers heading into his senior year.

Breslin is listed at 6’2’’ and 250 pounds by USC’s official athletics website. He played defensive end for the Trojans last season, but will start at outside linebacker in 2013 according to the team website.

Why You Should be Watching Breslin in 2013

Breslin is a dynamic pass-rusher. He is quick off the ball and anticipates the snap well. He fires out low and plays with consistent low pad level. He can win with the speed rush, spin, dip and rip, and counter moves. He makes several impact plays per game and must be accounted for by his opponents on passing downs.

Although his technique is inconsistent, he has a lot of success when he uses it properly. When comparing his tape to other defensive ends, he excels in two areas that I do not usually see.

First, he does a great job squeezing down when his lineman down blocks, and therefore doesn’t allow a free release inside. He properly trails the play, pursues and is a good backside defender.

Secondly, he does a good job taking on trap blocks. When guards pull and trap him, he takes it on with the proper shoulder, holds his ground and uses proper leverage. It is not often you see defensive ends do that consistently well.

Breslin has a lot of success when he is able to set up his blocker and extend his arms. When playing the run, he can shed blockers with a push-pull technique and make plays in small spaces.

Overall, he is an instinctive player with good awareness and play recognition skills. You won’t catch him out of position or getting too far up field. He “blew up” several reverses run to his side in 2012.

What Breslin Needs to Prove in 2013

Breslin struggles with drive blocks right at him. He needs to add strength to be able to win more in this area.

He did not operate well in space in 2012. He struggled making tackles in one-on-one situations on the perimeter, as well as coming up and making tackles on receivers when dropping in pass coverage. With more playing time at linebacker this year, it will be interesting to see how well he does playing in space. He will have the opportunity to display improvements or continued struggles.

Breslin will get caught going body-to-body too often with blockers rather than taking on half the man. He is already undersized at 250 pounds, and doesn’t help himself by taking on the entire body of the blocker.

Breslin is not a well-balanced player. He ends up on the ground too often. This may be a result of the need to add more strength.

The strengths he has technique-wise are too inconsistent. He is sometimes sloppy taking on blockers and rushing the quarterback. Developing consistency will be vital in his determining his draft stock.

Projecting Breslin’s Draft Stock

So much of Breslin’s stock will depend on him proving his ability to play outside linebacker in 2013. If he can successfully transition, Breslin suddenly becomes a fit for all teams.

Following his junior season, Breslin is strictly a 4-3 defensive end who needs to add 15 pounds and additional strength. He played almost exclusively on the left side for the Trojans in 2012, so displaying versatility will also help his stock.

There is no question when watching the Trojan defense that Breslin is an impact player every week. When projecting this impact and its translation to the NFL, I like Breslin in the second round with late first-round upside.

Tags: Morgan Breslin, Pass-Rushers, Prospect to Watch, USC

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