William Gholston is one of those players whose physical gifts (6-6, 275) are coveted at the NFL level.
The only cause for pause when it comes to the former Michigan State defensive end is his lack of sack production at the college level. In three years as a Spartan, Gholston recorded 10 total sacks.
“That’s not the only stat line,” he told detroitlions.com during a pre-draft visit with the Detroit Lions Monday.
“I led the nation (among defensive ends) with 10 pass breakups. Then there’s the tackles for loss (30). I had so many (quarterback) hurries. And as a team, we finished fourth in the country on defense (in 2012). It wasn’t just about individual sacks. We won games on defense.”
A three-year letterwinner, Gholston collected 142 tackles, including those 30 tackles for loss in 36 career games (24 starts). He finished his career ranked 10th in MSU history in tackles for loss.
“I try to play like an animal,” Gholston said. “I’m Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde. Off the field I’m a nice guy, on it (not so much).”
He took a little heat for that following the 2011 Michigan game when he punched Michigan offensive tackle Taylor Lewan before later being caught on camera twisting the helmet of Michigan quarterback Denard Robinson. The two incidents resulted in a one-game suspension.
“(NFL teams) like the intensity, but they don’t like the penalty,” he said of the incidents.
Gholston grew up in Detroit and attended Detroit Southeastern. He said returning home to play for the Lions “would be a dream come true.”
The Lions have a serious need for both talent and depth along the outside of their defensive line with the departure of starters Cliff Avril and Kyle Vanden Bosch this offseason.
Gholston’s game seems more predicated on power than it does speed, but he's a smart player his propensity to make plays behind the line of scrimmage is his best asset at the next level.
He’s expected to be a mid-round selection by most draft analysts.
JUSZCZYK A MULTIDIMENSIONAL THREAT
Forgive Kyle Juszczyk if he’s dealing with a bit of an identity crisis – and a case of jet lag.
The former Harvard slot receiver/tight end/full back/H-back can wear many hats at the next level and has been talking with a lot of teams about all of them. His pre-draft visit with the Lions on Monday was the ninth of his scheduled 12 with NFL teams.
Juszczyk (6-1, 248) played mainly from the slot last year in the Crimson’s offense, even though he was listed as a tight end on their roster. He finished his career as Harvard’s all-time leader in receptions (125), receiving yards (1,576) and touchdown catches (22) by a tight end.
He was a full back for the North squad at the Senior Bowl and impressed teams with his skills as a blocker and receiver during the week.
“Versatility is definitely my No. 1 attribute and it has been my entire football career,” he said. “Every team that I’ve talked to has mentioned that I can play the slot, tight end, full back and I can contribute on special teams. I feel like I bring a lot to the table.”
The Lions don’t use a fullback much in their offense, but they do use an H-back (or moving tight end).
A block-first tight end with the versatility to also catch the football and play multiple positions is the ideal fit.
Juszczyk, who is four classes short of receiving his degree from Harvard in economics, ran the 40-yard dash in 4.72 and 4.71 seconds at his Pro Day and had a 37-inch vertical jump with a 10-foot-1 broad jump.
Considered a fourth- or fifth-round pick, he’d be the first Harvard player drafted since Ryan Fitzpatrick in 2005.
WADDLE HAS SOMETHING TO PROVE
LaAdrian Waddle started three years at left tackle for a major college program in a “power conference” like the Big 12, and yet there are questions that surround him about his readiness for the next level.
The reason those questions exist are because he played for the pass-happy Texas Tech offense that asked him to play a little differently than they would have to in the NFL.
In college, Waddle was asked to backpedal before engaging defensive ends. In the NFL, It's more of a kick slide. Back peddling in the NFL is a quick way for a tackle to find himself - and his quarterback - on his butt.
“The footwork is a little bit different because we had some kind of backpedal deal (at Texas Tech),” he said. “We still did a lot of kick sliding, but our main protection was a backpedal deal and that’s something that’s not going to happen in the NFL.”
Waddle ended his collegiate career with 38 consecutive starts (40 games) at left tackle, but he says mechanics and footwork have been a topic of conversation during the pre-draft process.
Waddle wasn’t asked to put his hand in the dirt and explode off a three-point stance in the run game much at Texas Tech, either, which is something else he’ll have to prove he can do with some consistency.
“I actually feel that’s something I can really excel at because that’s almost exclusively what I did coming out of high school,” he said about the three-point stance.
With a 6-foot-6, 325-pound frame, Waddle has ideal physical traits to be an NFL tackle. He’s expected to be a late-round selection because of some of the unknowns about his game, which could make him a nice find if he’s a quick learner.