NFL Draft: Notre Dame’s Jayson Ademilola vs. Virginia Tech’s Lecitus Smith, Brock Hoffman
Lost in a disappointing 24-13 loss to the Cincinnati Bearcats, Notre Dame has quietly played an exceptional defense so far this season. Arguably the unit’s biggest breakthrough, senior defensive tackle Jayson ademilola has put together a series of notable performances to date. In NFL draft circles, the 6’2 6/8 “285 pound defensive tackle still goes relatively unnoticed.
In fact, there might not be a more underrated defensive prospect in the 2022 NFL Draft Class than Ademilola. Not fully quantified by box scoring (although his numbers are solid), Jayson has been unblockable this season for the Irish. It had been a long wait for the Irish fans to see how talented Ademilola was on a higher volume. The flashes we had seen in the first two seasons became a week-to-week sighting for the talented senior.
REACHING ITS POTENTIAL
It is not difficult to find Ademilola when watching the Notre Dame movie. Despite a smaller frame, the # 57 makes up for it with its exceptional movement capabilities. His body control is first-rate, offering insane flexibility and balance through contact. Ademilola is only exploiting its global potential. There is some serious upside down penetration here, showing the propensity to divide the gaps and wreak havoc.
Ademilola is up against a talented interior for the Virginia Tech Hokies this week, featuring a top tier game you don’t see every week. The tandem of Lecitus Smith (right guard) and Brock Hoffman (center) has a strong argument as one of the best indoor duos in college football.
A pillar on a talented Virginia Tech, Lecitus smith has quietly grown into one of the outstanding indoor offensive linemen in all of college football. As an NFL draft prospect, Smith is still criminally underrated. Originally a tight rookie coming out of Fitzgerald High School in Georgia, Smith made the transition to the offensive line during his red shirt year in 2017.
Also a bit under the radar, Smith emerged as one of college football’s top offensive guards last season as he played alongside the first-round pick. Christian darrisaw. There were times last season when Smith was the unit’s best offensive lineman.
On film, Darrisaw brings an exciting blend of power and mobility. His combo block work rivals the best in the country, demonstrating a formidable initial punch and spatial awareness to work at the second level. There are times when Smith is absolutely overwhelming, dominating at the point of attack with great consistency.
He is a gifted athlete who has an ideal setting to work indoors on guard. He has the type of physical profile that can match a variety of body types and styles – even those who boast the athletic type like Ademilola.
THE STORY OF BROCK HOFFMAN
The Brock Hoffman the story was very publicized. Originally a member of the Coastal Carolina program, Hoffman made the decision to transfer to Virginia Tech to be closer to his family after his mother continued to suffer side effects from the removal of a benign brain tumor in 2017. Famously, Hoffman’s call to play ahead of the 2019 season was denied by the NCAA.
Although he had to wait for his first opportunity, Hoffman made up for that missed time in 2020, quickly becoming one of the main centers of the ACC – and the entire country for that matter.
From a tool perspective, Hoffman is far from special. He’s a sturdy enough size but only has marginal foot length and speed, limiting his impact when playing outside of his frame. What he does bring, however, is extreme physique and meanness until the whistle echoes. Hoffman is the sticky type of guy who will find a long-term home right next to reliability.
WHAT DOES THE MATCHUP MEAN?
For Ademilola, this game represents another opportunity to continue his ascent into a lackluster inside defensive line class. Working against not just one, but two top-level indoor linemen offers a ton of possibilities. Ademilola’s biggest opportunity will be when he takes on Smith in the passing game.
The offensive inside lineman who can chase the passer is increasingly important in today’s game. As a prototype of three techniques to the next level, Ademilola’s physical gifts shine most when he is put on the shoulder of an opposing attacking goalkeeper and let go. Forcing these types of situations will be essential for its impact.
Conversely, these reps will be huge for Smith. We know he’s an immediate impact player in the racing game. If Smith is able to block this type of talented defender, we are now cooking with fat.
Hoffman won’t be given those mostly one-on-one opportunities against Ademilola. His impact will simply be to stay consistent across all levels of his game. Notre Dame is going to be trotting some talented gapers inside. Hoffman will have to show he can thwart this type of indoor athleticism.
The transient attack on Virginia Tech has been sporadic to date. Notre Dame’s defense will do their best to force their weakness to have to become a point of impact. This clash could be a huge deciding factor, not just for the draft stock, but for the outcome of the football game.
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