The Buffalo Bills’ defense was inconsistent throughout the 2015 season as they transitioned to Rex Ryan’s hybrid 3-4 defensive scheme. So, going into the offseason and most notably the 2016 NFL Draft, it’s likely that the team will look to acquire defenders that fit the archetypes for the positions needed for Ryan’s system to thrive. Today, we’ll take a look at Maryland edge defender Yannick Ngakoue.
Yannick Ngakoue played three years for the Maryland Terrapins, starting for the last two and quickly established himself as one of the premier edge rushers in the nation, recording 84 tackles, 32.5 tackles for loss, 21 sacks and three forced fumbles in that span. In 2015, Ngakoue was second in the nation with 13 sacks and his 45 quarterback pressures ranked fifth. A raw prospect, Ngakoue needs to improve his ability to defend the run, but there’s no doubting his knack for getting after the quarterback.
Yannick Ngakoue Size/Physical Ability
Yannick Ngakoue stands 6’2” and weighs 255 pounds, but lacks the ideal length you want in an edge rusher, possessing just 32 ½” arms. He’s got an elite burst off the snap and has the to beat offensive linemen around the edge with the flexibility to bend and turn the corner when re-directing to the quarterback. Based on athletic testing, he’s eerily similar to current Buffalo Bills edge defender Jerry Hughes.
Yannick Ngakoue Pass Rush
Yannick Ngakoue is a terror off the edge, wreaking havoc on opposing quarterbacks from both sides of the line of scrimmage. He consistently gets a good jump off the ball, beating offensive linemen around the edge and will hustle to finish plays, as shown in the following clip against Ohio State.
Yannik Ngakoue does a good job making up for his lack of arm length with great hand use, slapping away the arms of opposing tackles to keep himself clean, while having the athleticism to redirect back to the passer. He does this against South Florida, nearly recording a sack.
Part of what makes Yannik Ngakoue such a threat off the edge is his ability to time the snap and get a jump on the ball, putting the offensive tackle at a disadvantage. Here against Iowa, Ngakoue is already across the line of scrimmage by the time the ball reaches the quarterback’s hands. Ngakoue closes in and forces a throwaway.
Yannick Ngakoue doesn’t just win with speed, as he shows in the following rep against South Florida. Lined up at left defensive end, he utilizes a speed-to-power bullrush that drives the right tackle right into the lap of the quarterback and Ngakoue notches a sack.
Yannick Ngakoue Run Support
In order to be an every-down edge defender, Yannick Ngakoue will need to improve his lower body strength so that he can consistently hold his ground against offensive linemen. He showed the ability to make plays with his quickness and hands to disengage and chase down ball-carriers from the backside, as he does here against Penn State.
But when it came to power runs, he struggled to get off blocks and would get overpowered at the point of attack.
Here against South Florida, Ngakoue shows the ability to set the edge against an outside run without surrendering ground, allowing his teammates to fill the gap and make the run stop.
But against a higher level of competition—in this case, Ohio State’s Taylor Decker—Yannick Ngakoue couldn’t disengage from the block and was blown off the ball.
Here against Ohio State’s right tackle, he can’t get off the block once his arms are inside of his pads and gets thrown to the ground.
Potential Fit with Buffalo Bills
Yannick Ngakoue is an explosive pass rusher that fit’s the prototype of edge defenders that Rex Ryan has relied on over the years. When it comes to defending the run, he’s a work in progress, but in today’s passing league, finding a player that can consistently get after quarterbacks is paramount which is why Ngakoue should be a relatively high pick on Day 2 of the 2016 NFL Draft. With the Bills, Ngakoue would be able to step in immediately as a situational rusher—similar to how the team slowly worked Jerry Hughes into the lineup—while he develops into an all-around player.