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A Simple Scout’s Look at Taco Charleton
The “Simple Scouting” articles are done with an eye towards simplifying a sometimes complicated scouting process. All clips are courtesy of DraftBreakdown.com.
The 2017 NFL Draft is loaded with quality pass rushers. Aside from the best player in the draft, in Myles Garrett, there will be talented Edge guys taken early, and often, through the first few rounds. Teams that need players that can get to the quarterback should find themselves with plenty to choose from. One of those guys will be Michigan’s Taco Charleton.
A quick look at Charleton’s stats show how effective he has been during his time in Ann Arbor. Though he was only a starter in 2016, he earned lots of playing time leading up to that. He had 5 1/2 tackles for a loss, including 3 1/2 sacks as a backup in his sophomore year, then added 8 1/2 more tackles for a loss, and 5 1/2 sacks off the bench as a junior. This season, as a starting defensive end, he had 13 1/2 sacks tackles for a loss and 10 sacks. He also defensed two passes.
By delving into the tape, it’s easy to see what makes Charleton a good NFL prospect. The stats are nice, and show that he can produce, but it’s his physical skills that will get his name called early in the draft.
The strength of Charleton’s game is as a pure pass rusher. His combination of speed and strength make him difficult for an offensive lineman to block, and he has developed a few different moves for his pass rush arsenal. First comes his speed. In this clip, he lines up on the left side, and gets a great jump at the snap. From there he races around the outside edge, beating the right tackle, who never had a chance.
His ability to get a quick jump at the snap, then beat a blocker with speed is NFL-worth, but it’s not his only move. He has developed a nice spin move, and is strong enough to be successful with a power rush as well. Here, he lines up on the right side, and proceeds to shove the left tackle backwards, nearly into the quarterback. He doesn’t wind up getting the sack himself, but his push deep into the backfield forces the passer to change his plan, and results in a sack for his teammate.
Against the run, Charlton is not quite as dominant. Though he does show some of the traits needed, too often he allows himself to be out of position, usually because he tries to react to quickly, and misreads the play. Here’s an example. As he sees the play unfold, he believes the quarterback is keeping the ball, and jumps inside to make the play. Unfortunately, he was wrong, and the running back finds plenty of room outside, and goes for big yards.
That kind of thing happened far too often, as Charleton mis-diagnosed plays that led to nice gains for the opposing offense. When he guessed right, it was nice, but it led to a lot of inconsistency against the run. He does have the strength to hold the edge, and force ball carriers back inside, as demonstrated here, again against Penn State. He engages with the blocker, but maintains leverage, and moves down the line, even while still locked with his man. The running back isn’t able to get around him, and has to cut all the way back across the field, and ends up gaining just a yard.
There’s a lot of competition in this year’s draft for edge rushers. There figures to be several taken in the first round alone, and there’s depth behind that. Taco Charleton has some things to work on, but his combination of size, strength, and quickness means that he should hear his name sometime in the first two rounds, and perhaps as high as inside the top 15. He has tons of upside, and NFL teams love that.