The Mountaineers picked up defensive line depth on Wednesday when former Tennessee defensive lineman Darel Middleton announced he'd be transferring to West Virginia for his final collegiate season.
Middleton is a mountain of a man at 6'7" 305 pounds. When I began watching the film on Middleton, the first player that came to my mind was the Pittsburgh Steelers' Cam Heyward. They share a very similar build and despite their size, both can lineup virtually anywhere on the defensive line.
With the Volunteers, Middleton generally lined up in a 5-technique (outside shoulder of the tackle) but also regularly lined up in a 4i (inside shoulder of the tackle), 3-technique (outside shoulder of the guard), and even a 2i (inside shoulder of the guard). I expect the Mountaineers to use him in a very similar manner.
At 6'7", Middleton obviously has massive length, and he generally uses it well. He doesn't have elite speed but covers a lot of ground with his long strides. His best pass rush moves are a quick swim move and a very solid bull rush which he'll frequently use to collapse the middle of the pocket. He's also a threat to tip passes at the line of scrimmage and could add some value up the middle on field goal block.
Middleton plays hard and aggressively pursues the ball carrier through the whistle. He also goes from lining up against SEC offensive lines loaded with NFL talent to the Big 12 where there is talent, but not nearly at the level of the SEC. In all, Middleton is not elite in any particular facet of the game but is a solid all-around player who will play meaningful snaps for the Mountaineers this fall.
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