by Tyler Aston
Dante Fowler Jr: EDGE, Florida, 6-3, 260lbs
Overview: The 5-star recruit from Lakewood certainly looks the part, as one of Florida’s legion of highly touted, physically freakish players. Fowler dropped 15 pounds during last offseason to accommodate a role change that saw him play out of a two-point stance more during his junior campaign. Florida used him creatively. He played the left and right side, in both a three-point stance and standing up. He was used as a standup blitzer inside the tackle box, and even played NT in passing downs against FSU.
In the run game, Fowler is at his best when allowed to attack the play. He maintains gap integrity well when allowed to penetrate and attack, but struggles when asked to engage and read a play. Alabama’s LT nickname must be UBER, because he took Fowler for some rides. He has longer arms that help him to maintain separation, but at this stage he simply does not have the power in his base to hold off larger offensive linemen, although he does a decent job against more similarly sized TE’s. Does a good job at disengaging blocks. Struggles with the zone read.
He’s a good pass rusher. He has a good first step, although his snap recognition leaves room for improvement. He shows the ability to bend the edge and “run the hoop”, however can be at times inconsistent in this regard. His primary pass rush moves are a rip, and a hand clearance/swat. The hand clearance in particular is a technically difficult move to pull off, as it requires great timing, and Fowler does with regularity. If he can learn to attack the opening this move creates more quickly, it could become an elite move. His counter move is currently a swim move. It works in college, but unless he converts it from a big windmill motion over the top, to more of a “punch-over” will get him buried in the league. He also has a spin move that he uses more as a disengagement move to reset the point of attack with the blocker, but it shows promise as a pass rush tool to develop. Doesn’t convert speed to power well, needs work there to develop a bull rush.
I didn’t get to see Fowler drop a ton. It looks a bit mechanical. I feel comfortable with him covering fullbacks and the flat at this point.
Grade: Late 1st-Early 2nd
If you only watch one game: FSU (2014)