by J.T. Toth
Photo courtesy of A Sea of Blue.
At Draft 412, the NFL draft talk never ends. We will keep you ready for the next set of gridiron stars—from today and all the way until draft night 2024. We will bring you mock drafts, player profiles, individual team needs, and everything else you may need related to the 2024 NFL Draft.
Today’s Spotlight - Kentucky, Edge Rush, J.J. Weaver
Name- J.J. Weaver
Pos- Edge Rush
HT/WT- 6’5” 242 lbs.
Home – Fort Lauderdale, FL
J.J. Weaver attended Moore Traditional School in Louisville, Kentucky where he was rated a 4-star prospect by Rivals and 247Sports and the 4th best prospect in the state of Kentucky. He recorded 70 tackles, 10 sacks, 3 interceptions, and a fumble recovery as a senior, helping his team make it to the quarterfinals of the playoffs. During his senior season, he selected Kentucky over Miami, Louisville and Purdue.
In his redshirt season of 2019, Weaver saw action in 3 games and collected 6 tackles and 1 quarterback hurry. During his redshirt freshman season in 2020, Weaver was named All-SEC Freshman team after racking up 33 tackles and a 0.5 sack in 9 games. He missed the last two games of the season after tearing an ACL in his right knee.
Weaver returned from his torn ACL and was named one of the three award winners of the 2021 Mayo Clinic Comeback Player of the Year. He was named All-SEC third team by Phil Steele after totaling 34 tackles and a team leading 6 sacks, and 2 interceptions in 12 games, 6 of which were starts.
Last season, Weaver started in 8 games and played in 11 games total, and once again had a solid season with 47 tackles and 3 sacks, to go along with 3 fumble recoveries and 2 forced fumbles. Through the first 4 games of 2023, he has collected 14 tackles to go along with 1 sack for the Wildcats.
J.J. Weaver is an athletic outside linebacker and edge rush hybrid that has the ability to rush the passer or drop into coverage. He has fluid hips, efficient body control and can run with tight ends in coverage. He has a high-end motor and makes plays all over the field from different positions. He’s a willing participant in battles against larger offensive linemen and does a good job using his hands to combat and beat blockers. He is a disruptive player who can make plays sideline to sideline. His length gives him an advantage rushing off the edge and he understands how to use it to create space, which comes in handy in defending the passing lanes.
Weaver has some downside however. He’s deficient in his run stopping, in part for his lack of technique, and in part due to his lack of physical power. For example, he has a tendency to not drive through ball carriers and instead likes to grab and pull down runners. This won’t work in the NFL with stronger, more powerful backs. And during running plays, he can get out of position by over committing and is susceptible to cut backs. Both of these issues can be improved in the gym and with coaching at the next level.
And there’s no doubt he will be labeled as a “tweener” by many scouts, but this cuts both ways. He plays a hybrid game like many successful edge rushers/outside linebackers in the league these days but he can help himself by showing more discipline and technique in his pass rush game. He will need to add to his repertoire of rush moves to improve at the next level. Lastly, he does not work with the best base and tends to play upright at times which can throw off his balance or give leverage to stronger offensive linemen.
Plays too upright
Does not always wrap up
J.J. Weaver has the skill set to play in the NFL but the fact that he is a tweener and does not have one skill that sets him apart will make him a value pick later in the draft.
Draft 412 Draft Prediction - 5th or 6th round