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25 Days of Draftmas: USC’s oft-injured but elite edge rusher Porter Gustin

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Draftmas rolls along with a defensive end nicknamed “The Manimal,” who fits the mold with a different skill set

A very Merry Draftmas to you! It’s 25 Days of Draftmas on Arrowhead Pride, where we’ll be giving you a Kansas City Chiefs draft prospect every day in April leading up to the NFL Draft. You’ll get a daily prospect profile like this one right up until Draft Day.


Porter Gustin, edge rusher

6’4” | 260 lbs | USC

NFL: Combine Thomas J. Russo-USA TODAY Sports

Combine

40 10 Vert Broad 3 Cone Shuttle Bench
40 10 Vert Broad 3 Cone Shuttle Bench
4.69 1.6 35.5 119 6.97 4.22 31

Projected draft range: round four

I would take him in the: round three

One-sentence bio: elite athlete off the edge with production to match that had back-to-back injury-shortened seasons.

One-sentence scouting report: High-effort player with great combination of size and strength but limitations due to injuries have set back his technical growth

One play:

How he fits in KC:

On the surface, Porter Gustin fits the athletic and size profiles of past Steve Spagnuolo defensive ends.

Gustin is a power rusher who excels with his initial punch and ability to extend blockers off of his frame before disengaging. Gustin has some position flexibility due to playing as a stand-up player most of his time at USC, but he looks more comfortable closer to the line of scrimmage rather than in space.

His initial burst off the line of scrimmage comes and goes and is directly related to his pad level on his first step, but once in motion, the athleticism is evident. Gustin’s injury history is the biggest worry, as he has had his past two seasons shortened with a broken toe and torn bicep, and then a broken ankle in 2018. Even more than the physical injuries, his inability to practice has slowed his technical nuance to his game. While Gustin isn’t raw or a project, there are technical refinements in his game that he will have to make to maximize his athleticism. If his hand placement and footwork up the arc can be cleaned up even a little bit, his football upside will match his athleticism and then some.

The reason Gustin is such a compelling fit for the Chiefs is that unlike other defensive ends, that fit Spags’ mold at the position, he provides some explosive pass-rush potential. He has the baseline ability to threaten the edge with speed, the inside shoulder with power and the integrity of the pocket with his frenetic pace. Gustin is a player that reminds me a lot of Carl Lawson a few years ago—just with better length and less nuance to his game at this point. Lawson was another player that showed some hip tightness on film and a long injury history but has been able to translate his power and his ability to turn speed to power into a very productive early career.

Gustin’s growth from his junior year to his senior year, before the ankle injury, was enlightening in terms of showcasing what can happen as he continues to grow form baseline technique to good technique. It’s a complete upside pick that has a fall-back floor of a high effort, pro-ready strength player that can at least play in a rotation.

Want to read more player profiles from Arrowhead Pride’s 25 Days of Draftmas? Click here for the complete list. And to stay informed on the players in which the Chiefs have shown interest, be sure to check out AP’s Chiefs draft prospect visit and workout tracker.


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