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NFL Draft Prospect Preview - Marshawn Kneeland

by Ryan Myers


Photo courtesy of Western Michigan University.


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 - Western Michigan, DE, Marshawn Kneeland


Name - Marshawn Kneeland

Pos - DE

Team - Western Michigan

HT/WT - 6’3” 275 lbs.

Home - Grand Rapids, MI


Marshawn Kneeland played his high school football at Godwin Heights High School where he set career records for tackles, tackles for loss and sacks. As a senior, registered 110 tackles, 15 TFL and 8.0 sacks, earning a first team all-state selection. Throughout college, Kneeland earned a 2-star rating from both Rivals.com and 247Sports. He was not highly recruited as his only three offers came from Western Michigan, Grand Valley State, and Western Illinois.


In his first season in 2019, Kneeland played just one game. In 2020, he played in 5, making 3 starts and recording 23 total tackles including 2.5 sacks and a forced fumble. He was able to redshirt both of these seasons and retain eligibility going into 2021. In his first full season, he played in all 13 games and finished the season with 32 tackles, 7.5 tackles for loss and 4.5 sacks earning himself a starting role for the 2022 season.


In his first starting season, Kneeland played 10 games and recorded 38 tackles, 10 TFL and 1.5 sacks. He also had 3 passes defended at the line of scrimmage. His success has continued into this season as he has played 10 games, tallying 57 tackles, 7.5 TFL and 4.5 sacks.

 

Kneeland has a big frame with a thick lower half, using his strong legs to play with good drive and leverage. He wins consistently at the point of attack with a quick, explosive first step which helps him create pressure on most plays. He has quick feet around the edge and plays relentlessly and is a handful for offensive linemen. He’s versatile, being effective in both run defense and pass rushing, which is valuable in the NFL.


Kneeland plays with great drive, but when it comes to being violent or precise with his hands as he fights through blocks, Kneeland tends to be below average. If he learns to use his hands more effectively, he will get through to the backfield at an even higher rate, and improve his efficiency in the pass rush. He also possesses speed which is good for playing behind the line of scrimmage, but as he gets into the open field, he tends to be out run by ball carriers. His lateral movement makes up for this around the line of scrimmage, but cannot always be counted on once the play breaks out.


Strengths

  • Leverage

  • Strength

  • Quickness/Explosiveness


Weaknesses

  • Hand use

  • Speed

  • Tackling


Final Analysis


If Kneeland improves the effectiveness of his hands and learns to fight through blocks, he will be even more of a pass rushing threat than he has already proven himself to be. His versatility is valued highly in the NFL and is the big reason he will be a mid-round pick on draft day.


Draft 412 Draft Prediction - 4th round or 5th round

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