2015 NFL Draft: Erving, Seminoles win despite Beasley's two sacks

With Jameis Winston sidelined due to suspension and backup quarterback Sean Maguire taking every snap, the one-on-one battle between Florida State left tackle Cameron Erving and Clemson pass rusher Vic Beasley went from important to must-see.

Erving made a name for himself a year ago in this contest, holding Beasley to two tackles and no sacks. Erving's performance helped the Seminoles throttle Clemson 51-14 on their way to a national championship. The ACC recognized Erving's play by naming him the conference's Offensive Lineman of the Week.  

And though Erving's Seminoles again won the war with a 23-17 overtime thriller, this time it was Beasley who won the individual battle.

Early in the game, Erving had the upper hand. He checks in as's No. 4 senior offensive tackle and was reportedly given a second round projection last year from the Advisory Committee.  The 6-foot-5, 304-pound former defensive tackle used his long arms to latch on and control the Tigers' star pass rusher, showing impressive patience and balance when doing so.

As the game went on, however, Beasley's rare burst and underrated combination of hand play and upper body strength began to take over.

At 6-foot-2, 235 pounds, Beasley is often characterized as just a pass rusher. As such, he's been projected by many, including, as a potential outside linebacker convert. Beasley is alert and competitive against the run, as well, however, as he showed with his first impact play of the game.

With Erving blocking down on the defensive tackle, Beasley took on and easily shed a block from tight end Nick O'Leary. He showed an explosive punch to shuck the 6-foot-3, 244-pound tight end immediately, helping to stop Seminoles' running back Mario Pender at the line of scrimmage.  

Moments later Beasley used his trademark burst wreak havoc in the passing game, zipping by Erving for an 11-yard sack on 3rd and 7 to force a punt. Despite playing in front of a friendly home crowd, Erving was late off the snap and barely touched Beasley, who raced past him, turned the corner and brought down Maguire for the sack. A few series later, Beasley beat Erving for another sack, his 23rd career QB takedown, most among active FBS defenders.

On this sack (which came with approximately 1:40 remaining in the first half), Beasley showed an impressive slap and rip move to break through Erving's punch and cross the athletic left tackle's face. Off-balance, Erving could only attempt to push Beasley wide. Beasley's speed and flexibility, however, allowed him to circle the offensive tackle and track down Maguire.

Beasley's speed very nearly made an even bigger play for the Tigers in between his two sacks of the first half.  

Fighting through a double-team block by Erving and Pender, Beasley took advantage of a panicking Maguire to deflect a pass deep in Florida State's territory that very nearly was intercepted. Maguire rolled to his left while backed up in his end zone and actually provided Beasley a flatter (and therefore easier) angle to pursue. Beasley closed quickly, deflecting a short pass that was caught by cornerback Mackensie Alexander, but out of bounds.

Beasley may have the quickest first step off the snap in the country. He isn't reliant on his burst, however, as a powerful bull rush against Erving on the first snap from scrimmage of the second half demonstrated. He also complemented his speedy outside rush with a spin back to the inside that occasionally required left guard Josue Matias to help.
For as effective as Beasley was early, Erving deserves plenty of credit for responding.

Scouts will knock him for the mental error of being late off the snap on the first sack allowed to Beasley but otherwise, he was only physically beaten by Beasley once -- despite weighing 70 more pounds.  

Due to his size, Beasley is likely to be one of the more hotly debated prospects inside NFL scouting circles. Given today's pass-happy offenses, clubs are increasingly willing to trade explosiveness for size among pass rushers, as top 15 selections over the past four years of Von Miller (6-3, 250), Bruce Irvin (6-3, 248), Barkevious Mingo (6-4, 240) and Khalil Mack (6-3, 247) suggest.