At first glance, USC signee Rasheem Green's highlight tape is awesome. I'm a big proponent of the value of interior defensive line disruption, and Green's size, length, and athleticism certainly fits the prototype of a player who can impact an entire defense and make everyone around him better.
While a closer look showed that there are some areas of his game that can be refined, his overall size and athleticism can't be taught. He and Leonard Williams are coincidentally listed at the exact same size -- 6'5", 290 pounds.
Here's that aforementioned Rasheem Green highlight tape:
The first thing that sticks out is Green's awesome first-step. The first step can be one of the most important traits for a one-gapping, pass-rushing defensive lineman because it allows him to get upfield quickly and it puts the opposing offensive lineman at a disadvantage right away.
Check out Rasheem Green (white jersey) as he basically gets past Crespi offensive lineman No. 55 before the kid is even out of his stance:
This kind of disruption can destroy an offense's entire game plan, and the extra attention dominant interior d-linemen garner opens things up for the edge rushers too.
This next play is simply fun to watch, and shows us a couple things:
First, I like how Green (52) gets his hands into the offensive lineman's chest early. He then swipes the lineman's hands away, getting around him easily (hands are a learned and crucial part of any d-lineman's technique). Finally, the obvious closing speed and athleticism running down the quarterback is pretty awesome.
Here are some more good hands from Rasheem Green:
The guard doesn't stand a chance. Green lines up at a 3-technique in the above example, which is where I think he fits best. A 3-technique lines up on the outside shoulder of one of the guards, and the defensive end outside of him means that the 3-tech has a one-on-one matchup with the guard more often than not. Green's athleticism therefore makes him a perfect fit here.
However, while I compared Green's body type to Leonard Williams earlier, Williams played a lot more 5-technique in a run-stopping role than I expected him to last year, which makes me think Green could be used in much the same way (however, it also must be noted that Green's first step looks better than Williams', which could push Justin Wilcox to use Green differently than Williams):
In this example, Rasheem Green (wearing white second from the bottom; ends up making the tackle on the play) is "two-gapping," which Williams did a lot last season. Instead of getting upfield quickly and trying to beat the offensive lineman into the backfield, Green instead tries (and succeeds) to control the lineman and defend the gaps on either side of him.
Green is a pretty versatile player, but his technique is sometimes inconsistent:
He ends up making a great play here because he's simply the biggest, strongest, fastest player on the field, but I noticed that he sometimes plays too high. Succeeding in the trenches is all about leverage (low man wins), and Green sometimes plays upright and is therefore vulnerable to getting pushed around against better competition.
Also, his hand placement here isn't good -- he puts his hands outside, on the side of the offensive lineman's pads, instead of inside the framework of the pads. Again, he can get away with this in high school, but he'll risk being bullied at the college level if he tries that.
Here's Rasheem Green (red jersey) in center taking on a double-team:
Again, he plays a little high, and if offensive lineman No. 64 was stronger, he'd have knocked Green on his tail. But Green recovers nicely and uses his hands and arms well at the end.
Here he faces a triple team (red jersey):
And Green still makes the tackle.
Even after noting his occasional flaws, the dominant skillset that Rasheem Green will bring to the Trojan table is super exciting. He may be the next Leonard Williams, but he could also end up being better.