It has been quite the journey for Justin Madubuike as he came to Texas A&M as a highly touted defensive end recruit but transitioned to defensive tackle after his redshirt season as he continued to bulk up. While Madubuike got bigger he still had his defensive end athletic ability and that allowed him to have the most quarterback pressures of any SEC defensive tackles to go along with 10.5 tackles for loss and 5.5 sacks. His sophomore year production along with his traits has not gone unnoticed as Justin Madubuike is really becoming a hot name in the NFL Draft community with some wondering if he could end up being a 1st round draft pick. Here we’ll look at his three best traits and how they can help him have success in the NFL.
Using his burst and quickness to his advantage Madubuike is able to exploit gaps or just beat offensive lineman to a spot. His ability to shoot a gap forces guards and tackles to have to get over quick to reach him that have also left them vulnerable to power or counter moves. Madubuike also uses this quickness to attack the ball carrier or quarterback and close ground on them quick when he has a lane.
Normally with a former defensive end moved to tackle you wouldn’t expect them to be overly powerful and instead be more of a pass rushing specialist who wins completely with speed and quickness. And while Madubuike has burst, he is also strong which allows him to often times get where he wants by manhandling offensive guards. Madubuike is able to generate power with his quickness but also understands how to use leverage and is able to get underneath guards and tackles and drive them back like they are on skates. Using a strong upper body Madubuike is also able to shuck lineman in an effort to get off blocks using his hands to turn the defender so he has a lane to run.
What makes Madubuike different than other defensive tackles is that his has good lateral agility that allows him to move from side to side to get around blocks and attack the ball. You see this out of Madubuike as a pass rushers as he’s used in games to loop around to slant and is able to beat lineman to the spot. In the above clip he’s able to move laterally to his right to get on the edge of the tackle who slid down and then have the ankle flexibility to turn the corner and get to the quarterback. What normally separates a run stuffer from someone that can play on all three downs is the ability to move laterally. And Madubuike has it.