If you have studied the 2020 NFL Draft enough by this point, you should be pretty aware of how good the defensive end class really is. From top to bottom, it is deep, skilled, and presents a ton of options for teams in need of upgrade that component on their defense.
Luckily for the Atlanta Falcons, they are one of the teams that need to improve in that area. That is the case even when you account for the Falcons reeling in Dante Fowler Jr. in free agency this offseason. As we inch closer to the 2020 NFL Draft on April 23rd, time to take a look at a possible Day 2 prospect that the Falcons have their eye on to possibly upgrade their defensive line.
Curtis Weaver Scouting Report
Weight: 265 pounds
Career stats: 128 career tackles, 34 sacks, 47.5 tackles for loss, six pass deflections, three forced fumbles, two interceptions
Games watched: 2018 vs. BYU, 2018 vs. Colorado State, 2019 vs. Florida State, 2019 vs. Washington, 2019 vs. Colorado State
Since his redshirt freshman season of 2017, Weaver has been gathering an impressive number of accolades due to his play. Weaver was a Freshman All-American in 2017, first team All-Mountain West in 2018, and second-team AP All-American and Mountain West Defensive Player of the Year in 2019. This past 2019 season, Weaver reached career-highs in tackles (52), tackles for loss (19.5), and sacks (13.5).
Weaver was deployed in a variety of ways as a Bronco. At times, Weaver rushed from a stand-up position, lined up at 3- and 5-Tech, and even dropped in coverage in their hybrid 3-4/3-3-5 scheme. Despite a somewhat stocky frame, Weaver’s initial get-off at the snap is quite impressive. Weaver is an instinctive rusher that wins on technique and football IQ majority of the times. Weaver is very effective rushing from the three-point stance or standing up. Weaver often applies his vision effectively when rushing by maintaining sight of the quarterback, playing through the opposing blocker.
Weaver is disruptive in run defense thanks to his initial pop and solid pad level. He is also able to show the ability to anchor on early run downs. Weaver’s footwork as a lineman is very polished as he does not take missteps on his pass rushing plan.
While he moves fairly well with his frame, athleticism will not be Weaver’s calling card when it comes to getting after the quarterback. Weaver’s lateral movement is a true weakness of his at times, most notably when dealing with athletic, rushing quarterbacks. Boise positioned Weaver as stand up rusher with successful results but that will hinder him at times at the professional level due to his pad level being inconsistent.
Despite having his best season statistically last season, Weaver looked a step slower in 2019 than he did in 2018. It was reported that he gained a little weight over the course of the season. To his credit, Weaver did get his weight down and functioned in time for the Combine. It is also noticed on tape that Weaver’s pursuit speed could use some more quickness at the next level.
In terms of pure production and collegiate achievements, there are few in the 2020 NFL Draft that exceed what Weaver has accomplished. No, Weaver does not have twitchy pass rushing ability, is not the fastest, and won’t beat a double team with a spin move and leaping over a running back. What he does bring is a polished pass rush ability that can beat linemen consistently and quietly record a few double-digit sack seasons.
After watching his games a number of times, I saw shadows of Eagles defensive end Brandon Graham in his overall game. That means Weaver may not be among the league leader in sacks but in the Falcons unique defensive scheme, he can be inserted up and down the defensive line and help effectively rush the passer.
Mixing Weaver’s pass rushing versatility along with the athleticism that Fowler and Takk McKinley provides can give the Falcons a productive nucleus for years to come. Weaver has had a workout and a meeting with the Falcons brass. Which is a definite sign of interest. If the Falcons decide to go a different route in round one, Weaver is a prime target for Atlanta early on day two of the draft.