Jabaal Sheard is an explosive college end that will appeal to both 4-3 and 3-4 teams as a right end or rush linebacker. At Pittsburgh, he proved himself to be a productive pass rusher with variety and a strong motor. As purely a pass rusher, he ranks among this class’ best prospects. He may lack base strength to be an effective run stopper as a down lineman. Though many project him later, he may be drafted as high as the late first and should not get out of the second round.
Playing the run is not a strong point in Jabaal Sheard’s game. He lacks anchor strength in the lower body and is too often washed out of the play. If he is to stay at defensive end at the next level, he will need to add bulk and muscle to his frame. He really struggles to hold his position or make an impact against bigger linemen. His discipline on the edge could be improved, but generally he does a nice job at keeping contain using his arms to fend off blocks. Though his run-stopping ability leaves a lot to be desired as a down lineman, he may be able to effectively seal the edge from a linebacker spot in the 3-4.
Sheard is one of the best natural pass rushers in this draft class. He is explosive off the edge with a very good first step. His game is very energetic as he shows quick hands and speed. Rushing the passer comes very naturally to him and there is some variety in his technique. He excels getting into the backfield due to his ability to leverage the end. Upon firing off the snap, Sheard dips his shoulder and controls blockers either with his inside move or his bull rush. He displays the capability to bend at the waist and snap around the edge. Though raw and partially overshadowed earlier in his career, his pass rushing production spiked this year. He shows the ability to track the ball due to athleticism and effort, but he does have a tendency to over-pursue and miss easy tackles in the backfield. His talent should translate well to a stand-up role at the next level if he is to be drafted by a 3-4 team.
Hand Placement & Usage
Jabaal Sheard possesses long arms and uses his hands effectively. He shows the ability to keep blockers away from his body and free himself to make plays. Often, he will use his hands to set up blockers and has several pass rushing moves. When countering, he typically uses his hands for an effective swim move. He could stand to improve his leverage in the running game as he seems to struggle with driving blockers.
Instincts & Awareness
It appears Sheard has average to above average awareness on the field. Against the run, his issues had more to do with a lack of anchor strength than it did a lack of instincts. He possesses an excellent motor and is constantly flying around the field. Additionally, he is very competitive and works very hard using his hands & feet to gain position. Coverage instincts will be a big question in projecting a move to outside linebacker.
A big question that many have about Sheard is what position he will play at the next level. Personally, I believe he fits best at right end in a Tampa 2 scheme, which often calls for smaller, quicker down linemen. In a 3-4 system, he may project well as a rush linebacker. His pass rushing ability and motor should allow him to be successful in virtually any scheme. Many believe he will be a draft day riser due to perceived versatility.
Size, Speed, Strength & Agility
When analyzing Jabaal Sheard’s athletic ability and size, it is important to identify the position that he is being projected to play. His size is very good for a 3-4 outside backer, but only average for a right end in most 4-3 schemes. If he is to stay a down lineman, he will need to add bulk and more muscle to his frame, especially in the lower body. He does appear agile enough to play in space in the NFL. His hips are fluid; he can bend and snap at the waist. Additionally, he is very explosive for his size, with good speed.
Sheard is a bit of a mixed bag when it comes to character and durability. His work ethic, intensity, and competiveness helped make him a team captain as a senior. In the summer of 2010, he was arrested for assault. In that case, Sheard threw a man through a store window and repeatedly hit him despite being told by police to stop. He wound up beating felony charges, but plead guilty to disorderly conduct. It is hard to really question his character, though, as he once received a bravery award for helping a woman escape from her burning home. He also showed incredible toughness to play through nagging injuries during his college career. In 2009, he played every game through a knee injury that he had suffered that summer. After starting 38 straight games, he missed his final collegiate game to have a minor elbow surgery. Though he has been dinged up, there is no major injury to note on his medical record and he should check out fine. Sheard has the potential to be an impact pass rusher at the next level as a down lineman for a 4-3 team or standing up at linebacker in a 3-4. The type of explosiveness and motor he possesses is a good combination for any front seven player making the transition to the NFL. Though there has not been a tremendous amount of hype surrounding him, there is a chance he could be drafted as early as the late first or early second round. To reach his potential, he must stay focused and will have to stay healthy.
2010: 12 games/12 starts – 52 Tackles 14.5 TFL 9.0 Sacks 4 BB 4 FF
2009: 13 games/13 starts – 42 Tackles 10.5 TFL 5.0 Sacks 3 BB
2008: 13 games/13 starts – 45 Tackles 10.5 TFL 5.5 Sacks 7 BB 1 FF
2007: 9 games/0 starts – 3 Tackles 2 BB
Administration of Justice major and often described as a good student.
Awards & Honors
2010: First Team All-Big East.
Prospect Video Clips
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