The only things certain each year are taxes and a well-coached defense under Nick Saban. Not only is Saban college football’s top defensive mind, but he recruits the best defensive talent as well.
This year is no different and Da’Shawn Hand is the proof. The five-star defensive end from Woodbridge High School (VA) has future All-America written all over him and he is arguably the safest pick for college success in this recruiting class.
There is plenty to like about Hand as this kid is a talented and disruptive defender who still possesses a frightening amount of upside. The 6-foot-4 defensive end has great size and displays a nice wingspan. Despite already being in that 260 pound range he still has plenty of room to pack on more good bulk with time in a college weight program.
One of the strengths of his game is his get-off speed. He is an explosive player who displays great snap anticipation and first-step quickness as well. He has the athleticism to be a factor anywhere on the field and displays very good backside chase speed and overall range playing flat down the line of scrimmage.
Against the run, he is college ready before he even arrives in Tuscaloosa. He fires out low demonstrating above average hip roll at the point of contact and quickly shoots his hands out with great arm extension.
He’s a violent tackler, but he tends to aim high instead of wrapping up a little lower. Something that Kirby Smart and company are sure to adjust quickly.
As a pass rusher, he has the tools to be a menace. He flashes the ability to attack the outside shoulder, transition into a rip move and turn the corner. He also has good power upon contact and can generate the leverage to bull rush his way back to the quarterback.
Needs to keep developing his pass rush arsenal and working on being consistently active with his weapons. However, this will be improved simply because he will have eyes on him each practice reminding him each time.
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Hand has a great motor and has an impact on every single play. Even when he is not in on the tackle, the offense has still had to react to his presence. He is the kind of player that the offense has to point out every single play.
I have no doubt that Hand will crack the defensive line rotation as a true freshman. That is not the easiest task at Alabama because of the immense number of star-athletes recruited each year. However, Hand is simply too good not to play immediately.
The biggest question I have about Hand is what position he will finish his career at. He could easily grow into a defensive tackle position for the Crimson Tide. Either way, there is a great likelihood that Hand will be a 1st round draft pick in 2017 NFL Draft.