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2015 NFL Draft: Ryan Russell, A User’s Guide

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The defensive end Purdue has the size for the NFL, but his production rarely matched.

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Congratulations on drafting Ryan Russell, a 6'4" 269 pound defensive end from Purdue University!  I hope you are happy with your selection. Here is some background information:

Production - Russell was Purdue's lone invitee to the NFL combine, and much of that comes from his physical features. As far as numbers, Russell struggled through a coaching transition in his career as he played two years under Danny Hope and two under Darrell Hazell. He was expected to be the next great Purdue defensive end, but he did not put the numbers that Ryan Kerrigan and Anthony Spencer did before becoming first round picks. In fact, his final two seasons did not see a lot of gaudy numbers as Purdue was 4-20 with a ton of deficiencies on both sides of the ball.

Russell's best season came in 2012 as a sophomore as he had 37 tackles and four sacks. This came after a solid Little Caesar's Pizza Bowl where he had along fumble return as a redshirt freshman. He was a regular starter that was often a solid player, but he was unable to put up huge numbers. He did play with a couple of NFL defensive tackles in Bruce Gaston and Kawann Short. He finished with a total of 10 sacks, three coming in his senior season.

Strengths

Russell has great size and is very quick with his footwork. He has the frame to be a solid defensive end and certainly looks the part. He might even be able to do what many Purdue ends have done in the past and convert to outside linebacker thanks to his quickness.

Weaknesses

Yes, Purdue was bad in his final two years, but he had the benefit of playing alongside Short for two seasons and Gaston for three without ever being dominant. It is not like when Kerrigan was throwing people left and right against double and triple teams. Russell was good, but was rarely a "fear of God" type player that opponents had to plan against. His NFL profile says it best:

Plays with a narrow base and loses balance. Has traits to get into linemen first, but doesn't bring anything in his hands to jar them. Raw pass rusher. Doesn't seem to have a plan and loses interest when stymied. Completely dominated by Wisconsin right tackle Rob Havenstein. Evaluators have expressed concern about competitive toughness. Content to stay blocked and doesn't fight to improve position. Out of position to finish tackles and misses more than he should.

Projection:

You're drafting Russell on potential. Unfortunately, much of his career was just like that: potential. He has all the physical tools needed to be a good player, but can he add the intangibles? Late Rounds