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2018 NFL Draft Profile: DT Poona Ford is an underrated force on the inside

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He isn’t the biggest name, nor the biggest player, but Poona Ford can make a big impact in the NFL.

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COLLEGE FOOTBALL: DEC 27 Texas Bowl - Texas v Missouri Photo by Ken Murray/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

Poona Ford

DL | 4SR | Texas | All Star Game: SB

Height: 5’11 5/8” | Weight: 309 | Arm Length:32 3/4” | Hand Size 9 1/4”

Projection: Mid 2nd-4th Round

Stats

2014 (1 games): 9 tackles, 1.0 TFL
2015 (13 games): 39 tackles, 6.0 TFLs, 2.5 sack, 1 forced fumble
2016 (14 games): 54 tackles, 5.5 TFLs, 1 forced fumble
2017 (12 games): 31 tackles, 8.0 TFLs, 1.5 sacks, 1 forced fumble

Scout Hub Featured Background:

Jesse Fritsch

Given name Kayon Ford. South Carolina native. Four-star recruit according to 247Sports. Youth and Community Studies major. Academic standout. Played in nine games as a freshman. Started five of 12 games as a sophomore. Started 12 games as a junior. Voted a 2017 team captain. Grandmother called him Pooh as a child and the nickname evolved into Poona. Accepted invitation to play in the 2018 East-West Shrine Game and later accepted an invite to play at the 2018 Senior Bowl.

Positives:

Exceptional arm length and impressive wingspan help minimize his size limitations. Plays nose tackle primarily but has played several positions on the interior. Explosion and burst at the line is impressive, which, combined with an ability to get and maintain leverage against his blockers, makes him disruptive on the inside. First step is very tough to defend, and snap anticipation is good. Interior linemen seem to struggle getting ahold of Ford and regain leverage to deal with his bull rush, possibly due to his size and relative arm length working to his advantage.

Negatives:

At under 6-foot tall, size is going to be an issue for some teams. Power can be inconsistent as you’ll see him push an offensive lineman back on one play but then have an instance of a running back bowling over him for extra yardage. Agility and change of direction can be a problem as he relies much more on his explosion and burst. Struggles to get maintain his feet through cut blocks. Seems to struggle if his initial pass rush move fails and doesn’t alter his technique often. Aggressiveness can be used against him at times to run him out of the play. Though he’s shown more than just a bull rush, struggles when using other pass rushing moves with both hand placement and execution.

Outlook:

Poona Ford isn’t a perfect prospect, and his measurables are going to turn some teams away right at the start. If you go beyond appearances, you’ll find a player with enough flaws to keep him out of first round consideration, but enough potential that an early round selection ought to be considered. All his flaws are not only coachable, but appear to be, at least in part, already in the process of being corrected.

While he thrives by using his elite first step and ability to create leverage in a bull rush, he has shown an understanding of other ways to create pressure inside. Though he isn’t as strong in those areas, seeing him use multiple moves and trying to mix up his technique is promising from a development standpoint.

While other undersized defensive linemen like Maurice Hurst and Taven Bryan will get all the press, I feel Poona Ford is a guy who will be very well liked by a defensive line coach in any scheme who wants someone who can get pressure from the 1-5 technique positions. His explosiveness inside is difficult to counter, and while he’s currently projected outside of the top 100 on many draft boards, I’d feel comfortable taking him early Day 2.

Notes:

In second quarter against SJSU, got stuck in a double team on a pass rush in the red zone but got his hands up to deflect the ball. Later in the same game, beat his blocker cleanly to meet the RB at the line but was knocked back several yards upon contact. Abused the Iowa State offensive line consistently in the first half with both power and speed. Kansas State game is a good one to watch to see him attempt to use moves other than his bull rush, with varying degrees of success.

All Player links:

Game Tape:

Kansas State 2017

Iowa State 2017

San Jose State 2017

Other Links:

Team-Team Page

Draft Profile-Jesse Fritsch Report