Height: 6-foot 1
Weight: 241 pounds
The Giants have been pining for a talented young edge rusher for quite some time. While there is still hope for Lorenzo Carter’s development, especially with this new coaching staff, a top-end pass rusher is still needed.
The Giants may have played their way out of a chance to draft transcendent talent Chase Young, and the 2020 NFL draft edge position isn’t exactly permeated with top prospects, but there are a few players that can certainly start in the NFL. Michigan’s Josh Uche has the potential to be one of those players.
Uche was one of the prospects who benefited most from the Reese’s Senior Bowl this January. He finished his time in Ann Arbour with 19.5 tackles for loss (10.5 in his last year), and 15.5 sacks (7.5 in his last year).
Uche dealt with injuries throughout his Michigan campaign and only played over 10 games in one year, his final season. Durability concerns, combined with a leaner frame, led to some questions about his transition to the NFL, but then you watch his explosiveness, and you instantly become intrigued.
Uche explodes off the line of scrimmage like he’s been shot out of a cannon. He consistently won his one-on-one reps at the Senior Bowl and did well in off-ball linebacker drills too, which was the versatility he provided to the Wolverines’ defense.
Uche’s range, ability to bend, and overall athleticism would be so resourceful for the Giants in Patrick Graham’s scheme. The NFL and the Giants are moving to more hybrid type defenders, and Uche fits this mold.
His athletic ability allows him to play at the second level and drop into middle hook zone. He also possesses the capability of defeating blockers with his first three steps, up the arc and combining that with different pass-rushing moves, which feature a nasty inside counter spin.
Uche’s game against Illinois in 2019 showcases his upside. It was difficult for the fellow Big 10 program to stop Uche, who recorded three sacks and five tackles for a loss in the contest.
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In the following video, you can easily see Uche’s excellent change of direction skills, ability to win off the edge, and his ability to shed blocks and win with some pop at the point of attack. His ability to win in the trenches is one of my biggest concerns about the player.
Watching him go up against Tristin Wirfs throughout the Iowa game was tough. Wirfs is one of the best tackle prospects in the game, and he handled Uche well throughout their contest.
Uche gave Wirfs a nice pop but was dominated once Wirfs was able to anchor. Strength at the point of attack is the concern for Uche at the next level. Can this be developed? Yes, but it should be noted, and it’s one of the reasons Uche will likely be available on Day 2.
Why He's a Fit
Dave Gettleman loves players that are sound against the run, so one may glean that Uche wouldn’t be an option, but that’s not the case.
Gettleman has drafted edge players that weren’t exactly proficient with defending the run; players like Oshane Ximines, who filled his role as a rookie situational pass rusher very well. Patrick Graham’s defense features a lot of 1 to 2 man fronts; whether this be a 1-technique on the outside shoulder of the center and a 3-technique on the outside shoulder of the field guard, or just two 2i techniques on the inside shoulder of each guard, in passing situations with only five defensive backs on the field.
If there are one down lineman and five defensive backs, then there have to be five interchangeable pieces in the middle, usually, linebackers and edge players, that are roaming around the second level of the defense in a disguised blitz package. This happened a lot last year with the Dolphins, and I expect it to continue this season with the Giants if they can get the right personnel.
Uche fits this scheme very well, for he can drop into coverage and rush the passer at a competent level, with a lot of room to grow. Weight can also be added to his frame to assist him in defending against the run.
Carter, Oshane Ximines, and Josh Uche would be a formidable pass-rushing trio, and although they would lack a true number one pass rusher, I think they could still generate pressure.
Uche would fit with the Giants, and all of his tools would assist this team in upping that sack total. He needs some more sand in his behind to defend the run at a higher level, which can come with time in an NFL weight room.