Scouting: Shilique Calhoun – DE, Michigan State (vs. Iowa)
Year: Senior (RS)
Ht/Wt : 6’2”/250 lbs.
Expected draft position: Late first to early second round
How many people here watched the Super Bowl? Of course you did. We all did. So everyone saw the clinic that Von Miller displayed en route to Super Bowl MVP honors with three sacks and two forced fumbles. Everyone saw how important elite pass rushers are to limiting what opposing quarterbacks can do. They took Cam Newton out of his comfort zone, as well as Tom Brady two weeks prior when Broncos defenders hit him 20 times. 20! Does Brady even allow that amount of abuse and hurt feelings without a written apology from the commissioner?
In addition, Ravens fans, myself included, may have downplayed the absence of Terrell Suggs during the season. It became more apparent with each week how much we would miss him with the Ravens generating little to no pass rush, QBs having a clean, comfortable pocket to throw from often, and needing to bring extra defenders into the box leaving open receivers if the blitz doesn’t get the QB in time.
Terrell Suggs is coming off an Achilles tear, combined with Elvis Dumervil, both men are not getting any younger. Pass rusher may in fact be the biggest need that would impact the defense the most. Make other players around them better in the process if the pass rush gets better, forcing the opposition into mistakes.
So I’d like to take a look at one of Big Ten’s brightest stars, Shilique Calhoun.
Discuss your thoughts on this potential Ravens draft target on our message board.
Here’s a quick look at the resume.
• Three time All-Big Ten (2013-15)
• Three time second team All-American (2013-15)
• 2015 Hendricks Award Finalist (DE of the Year)
• Two time Lombardi Award Finalist (Lineman of the year)
• Two time Bednarik Award Finalist (Defensive Player of the Year)
• 2013 Big Ten Defensive Lineman of the Year
Impressive isn’t it. Calhoun plays defensive end in the Spartans 4-3 defense. His build is fit for that position, and certainly not for defensive end in the Ravens 3-4 scheme, where DEs are traditionally tipping the scales at near 300 pounds or more.
So why is Calhoun a fit for the Ravens? I think he could play the outside linebacker position in the Ravens 3-4. Size is not a problem. Terrell Suggs weighed in at 262 pounds at the combine and stands 6’3”. Elvis Dumervil is much shorter at 5’11”, but still weights in at 255. The afore mentioned Von Miller stands 6’3” and weighs 249. I’m not worried about Calhouns’ size being an issue. Even if the already strong and powerful Spartan puts on 10 pounds of muscle (as he doesn’t look as strong as he plays), he’ll still be at a great playing weight for his height.
Later on, I’ll show you exactly why I see Calhoun as a fit. For now, let’s take a look at some film. For this piece, I chose to break down his tape from the Big Ten title game against Iowa. Big stage, big pressure, tough opponent, lets take a look.
Calhoun shows a great inside move. It’s just one of the ways he has shown he can beat blockers. He also displays power, practically carrying the left tackle along with him to the quarterback who he shoves down with one hand.
The other tool Calhoun possesses is speed when getting around the edge. He is quick, and also makes a tight turn in order to become square to the target, the quarterback. He delivers a big, legal hit, in the strike zone, causing a fumble in the process which Iowa would recover. Often times a rusher will end up not making that turn so tight, and end up behind the quarterback. Then he needs to come back to get him, and the adjustment gives the passer the extra half a second needed to deliver the pass, unabated.
On both of these QB hits, I really like the direct route Calhoun takes to the target. But he does show some weaknesses which will have to be addressed.
Calhoun often seems to play too high. He gets by with physicality at times against collegiate athletes. But technique will be needed against NFL competition. Here is an example of where Calhoun comes in high, and is completely taken out of the play. The right tackle gets his hands inside the pads of Calhoun, and he can’t go anywhere.
Again, Calhoun pops straight up instead of exploding outwards and low. This time, a tight end, not even an offensive tackle, gets position on the block, and shoves Calhoun out of the play, creates the cutback lane for his runner, and finishes the block. To be fair, this tight end is Henry Krieger Coble. A fifth year senior like Calhoun, and potential mid, to late round NFL draft pick. So, he’s not an English major who dabbles in football.
Looked at some good, some bad, let’s get back to why I see Calhoun as a fit in the Ravens 3-4. It’s on this play in particular.
Look at where Calhoun lines up. He is well outside the tackle box. Outside of the tight end as well. Almost where a blitzing 3-4 outside linebacker would line up. The tight end doesn’t chip Calhoun on his way out to his route. By the time the left tackle gets a hand on Calhoun, he’s already taken three or four steps, gathered momentum, and it’s far too late. Speed off the edge. Speed kills in every sport. The QB was sacked in 1.9 seconds by my watch.
Is that good? Usually QBs count to three then have to take off running, or throw it. If you don’t even get to two, I’d say that’s good. Also, I compared this to a clip of the Broncos Super Bowl MVP, Von Miller, who I mentioned earlier and is currently the gold standard when it comes to pass rushing. With all due respect to J.J. Watt, Miller’s play single handedly changed the outcome of big games of late. Miller had a similar sack of Tom Brady in the AFC title game where he got practically a free run like Calhoun had in that clip. Miller is one of the fastest off the edge, and he reached Brady in 1.9 seconds as well.
Direct routes to his target
Multiple moves (power inside, speed outside, swim, spin)
Plays both sides of the line
Leadership (Two years a team captain)
Stands up too tall often
When out of position, completely taken out of the play
For 3-4 style teams, unknown if he can set the edge in run defense
Could be a situational pass rusher if he doesn’t develop in other areas
Summary: Calhoun’s pass rushing prowess is what makes him a first round pick. The rest of his game is what might make him end up slipping into the second round. If teams view him as a project, or a situational rusher, and not every down type player, do you use a first round pick on that? Elvis Dumervil is situational and was a fourth round pick. I don’t want to say that Calhoun takes plays off, but you can tell at times he saves his energy to stay fresh later in games, or picks his spots to put forth everything he has to make a big play. In that conference title game with Iowa, he made a number of big plays. His name was called a lot. To be fair, if you make one sack, one big play a game, you are a Pro Bowler in this league. Maybe he is best suited as a rotational player.
Sacks are game changers. It can lead to turnovers. It lengthens the field. It can lead to 3rd and unmanageable downs. It can take teams out of field goal range which takes points off the board. For a situational pass rusher, but one that I believe could rack up 15+ sacks a season when rotated in at the right time, and who shows up big in big games like this one, I would gladly take Shilique Calhoun with the 37th overall pick in the draft, the sixth pick of round two.
That is if the Ravens don’t address pass rusher in round one.
Game film courtesy of Draft Breakdown
Mike was born on the Eastern Shore, raised in Finksburg, and currently resides in Parkville. In 2009, Mike graduated from the Broadcasting Institute of Maryland. Mike became a Baltimore City Fire Fighter in late 2010. Mike has appeared as a guest on Q1370, and FOX45. Now a Sr. Ravens Analyst for BSL, he can be reached at [email protected]