2021 NFL draft prospects: Pitt EDGE Rashad Weaver

Eric Edholm's criteria for grading NFL draft prospects. (Albert Corona/Yahoo Sports)
Eric Edholm's criteria for grading NFL draft prospects. (Albert Corona/Yahoo Sports)

Pitt EDGE Rashad Weaver

6-foot-4, 265 pounds

Yahoo Sports draft grade: 5.83 — potential starter

TL;DR scouting report: Long, strong and versatile defensive lineman who might not be an elite pass rusher but has strong football and personal character

Games watched: Clemson (2018), Louisville (2020), North Carolina State (2020), Notre Dame (2020)

The skinny: A 2-star Rivals recruit out of the Miami area, Weaver headed to Pitt and redshirted in 2016. In 2017, he started 5 of 12 games and made 28 tackles (six for losses) with three sacks and three pass breakups. Weaver was even stronger in 2018, making 47 tackles (14 for losses), 6.5 sacks, four pass breakups and two forced fumbles.

Weaver’s 2019 season ended before it started when he suffered an ACL injury during preseason practice. But after a year of rehab, he bounced back by being named first-team AP All-America and all-ACC honors, making 35 tackles (14.5 for loss), 7.5 sacks and three forced fumbles. He attended the 2021 Senior Bowl.

Upside: Turned in productive 2020 season following torn ACL in 2019. Will be another year removed from the injury and should be in even better shape in 2021.

Outstanding production in his nine-game campaign and throughout his career — 34.5 tackles for loss, 17 sacks, nine passes batted down, five forced fumbles and four recoveries. Disruptive player who finds his way to the ball. Lived in backfields last season — multiple pressures/hits/sacks in every game in 2020.

Good Senior Bowl week — looked strong and determined in both one-on-ones and team sessions. Also stood out in the game, having to play inside because of a lack of DTs on the roster.

Ideal size and length. Big, thick, stout frame capable of handling the wear of a long season. Great upper-body strength — powerful hands to pop defenders and stop their momentum. Plays a power game. Outstanding wingspan (82 7/8 inches) to long-arm blockers and keep their hands away from his frame.

Stout run defender who will upgrade a defense in this respect immediately. Initiates contact and sets the course. Sheds blocks and sets a hard edge — forces runners back inside or takes them down himself. Controls the action up front and can work through tandem blocks to make plays.

Effort rusher who finishes. Disengages quickly and can cover short distances quickly. Flattens down the line and makes TFLs consistently. Has countermove potential — flashed more of it in 2020. Won’t be bullied at the point of attack. Good inside rush moves.

High-floor prospect — hard to picture him being a bust with good health. Technically sound. Highly respected personal and football character. A worker who will set the tone for his DL room and be pro-ready the minute he walks into a facility.

Downside: Not a dynamic athlete. Doesn’t explode off the ball. Struggles to change directions somewhat. Can’t counter back inside with elite quickness.

Edge-rush speed in the NFL will read as average to slightly below-average. Not a bender who carves the corner. Can be deliberate in his pass-rush moves and has trouble stringing moves together. Not often beaten badly in one-on-one battles but also earns a lot of stalemates.

Tall player who plays tall — needs to get his pad level down. Can be vulnerable to “half a man” blocks and lose power at the point. Plays with a narrow base. Straightforward pass rusher who could use more development in terms of angles and coordination between his lower and upper halves.

Won’t have quite as much value as a possible 5-technique with fewer teams using true 3-4 fronts. Average arm length (33 1/4 inches) and hand size (9 3/4 inches). Still not as sure a wrap-up tackler as you’d like to see, although appeared improved in this area last season.

Older prospect — will turn 24 years old in November. Could be closer to his peak in terms of development. Health (torn ACL in 2019) must be closely examined.

Best-suited destination: Weaver reads as a three-down defensive lineman capable of lining up inside and out. He might never lead your team in sacks, but he’s a player you absolutely can build around who is capable of helping your run and pass defenses in either an odd or an even front. Weaver should have mass appeal for his versatility and high floor.

Did you know: Weaver was one of only two football players to be named a member of Pitt’s Blue and Gold Society, which is an undergraduate student organization composed of top students who serve as ambassadors for the alumni association and the university.

Player comp: Some similarities to Brandon Graham.

Expected draft range: Top 100 pick