The pass rushing pool just got a bit more shallow. Clemson linebacker Vic Beasley will return for his senior season after taking his sweet time to make a decision, according to USA Today. Beasley had a first-round projection from most draftniks around the web including, CBS Sports and SB Nation, but obviously thought he was better off playing another year of college football.
Beasley was named to the All-ACC first team and a consensus All-American this season after leading the conference with 13 sacks. The long and lanky linebacker also helped the Clemson Tigers win the Orange Bowl against the lauded Ohio State Buckeyes. This season essentially served as Beasley's breakout year, as he took on a starting role for the first time.
Beasley was recently selected by Josh Collachi in BGN's most recent mock draft. At 6-foot-3 and 225 pounds, he is more of a freak athlete than a surefire pass rusher, so an extra year of coaching could help him develop. He is definitely going to have to put on weight, as his slim frame likely would deter him from beating blocks in the NFL.
With Beasley off the board, the number of pass rushers available for the Eagles in the first round will obviously decreases. Khalil Mack, Anthony Barr, Kyle Van Noy, Jeremiah Attaochu and Kony Ealy remain likely mid-first to early second round talent that could appeal to the front office. The issue with most, if not all, of those players is that they are "tweeners."
Van Noy is likely destined for inside linebacker, Barr is more of an all-around type than a natural pass rusher, Mack can play anywhere which will get him drafted high and Ealy really does not have a natural NFL position. Attaochu is probably the most natural 3-4 outside linebacker of the bunch, but probably has the lowest ceiling. All of that said, questions and concerns like those make the draft process that much more fun and engaging.
This offseason, BGN will profile several dozens of draft prospects, so do not lose hope on snatching a promising pass rusher or a stellar safety in May. With the draft moving back a month, there will be more time to discuss and diagnose the possibilities. We are in it for the long haul, so stay tuned.