Being publicly admonished for not being particularly fond of a prospect is always a fun time. Twitter is so good at finding the things that aren’t among the consensus and getting you called out for it. One of those things this year is my views on Texas A&M defensive tackle Justin Madubuike and his value in the NFL Draft.
This started in a group text when I released my first big board of the season, consisting of 280 players that I considered to be “draftable.” Madibuike was down the list at 141 overall. My friend Tyler Browning at Coast to Coast Scouting immediately jumped on it: “Why do you hate Justin Madubuike?”
It’s not that I hate him, I just don’t think he’s as good as the rest of Draft Twitter thinks. Shortly thereafter, Ryan Roberts from NFL Draft Bible questioned me about it on Twitter and became irritated with me when I mentioned the fact that he disappeared in the biggest games.
“What games do I need to watch to see what he can do?” I would ask. Seriously, I was curious. I had watched him against Clemson, Auburn, Alabama, and LSU. I wasn’t overly impressed with any of those performances.
“Go watch Arkansas,” some would say. Great team. They went 2-10 last season and fired former head coach Chad Morris. “Go watch Ole Miss,” others would say. Perfect, another team that sat at the bottom of the SEC last season and fired their head coach, who was an alumnus to the program. I put on the Arkansas tape and I wasn’t particularly impressed with it either.
So, John, you all are saying right now, why do you hate Justin Madubuike? Well, since you all won’t believe me when I say that I don’t hate him, I’ll just tell you what I think of him.
What to like about Justin Madubuike
Justin Madubuike has a good size. He’s built well at 6’2-5/8″ and 293 pounds and features an 80-1/2″ wingspan. The size is certainly something that is attractive to NFL clubs. He tested extremely well at the NFL combine, posting 31 bench press reps of 225 pounds and ran a 4.83 forty yard dash. These are very impressive numbers and overall show a very athletic defensive tackle. He played basketball and ran track in high school. That shows up on tape when you watch him too. Madubuike is very athletic.
Justin Madubuike is a ton of fun. Explosive first step off the line with lightning-quick hands. Madubuike has a ton of pass rush upside from the 3T spot at the next level. He’s a Top 50 player for me. pic.twitter.com/yJc6M0bOAe— Nick Farabaugh (@FarabaughFB) April 13, 2020
Athleticism generally means versatility. I think Madubuike would be better suited in a 4-3 defense, someone who could attack the three and the five-tech. He’s not really a space-eater and as a result, I wouldn’t expect him to perform well in a 3-4 system. That being said, Madubuike flashes real potential. His effort is undeniable and he wins most of his impact plays because of his effort.
He shows flashes of an incredible burst. The move in the play above really shows that as well as his ability to change directions from the snap. If he can do this on every snap, he’s going to be a handful in the NFL.
What concerns me about Madubuike
The only way that I really saw Justin Madubuike win was from effort or missed assignments. The number of snaps that he played and didn’t win the repetition was astounding to me. He’s not a great tackler either because of the many times when he was in a position to make a play he simply missed the tackle. Whether he mistimed his dive at the runner off of a block or took a poor pursuit angle, I felt as though he missed tackles more than he made them.
You’re killing me, Ryan. pic.twitter.com/AHzNEQQUjY— John Vogel 🏈 (@johndavogel) March 4, 2020
That flash of a burst isn’t enough to satisfy me. I want to see it consistently, and I don’t see it often at all. Many times Madubuike hits the line of scrimmage and he is stone-walled. I’m really just wanting to see consistency, and when I look across the board, it’s not there.
Madubuike is raw. He lacks the real polish to win those 1v1 battles with his handwork. Power and quickness will only go so far in the NFL, you still have things that you need to use other than raw athleticism.
I think that from a coaching standpoint that in the NFL coaches are going to love aspects of Madubuike’s game. His burst, his effort, and his sheer determination at times are impressive. Coaches love that type of work. It shows coachability.
Regardless, from a scouting department standpoint, Madubuike has concerns and they’re glaring. He needs to be refined a lot, and it’s up to a good coaching staff to teach him what he needs to know. The real question is: how did he not get coached under Jimbo Fisher? Elijah Robinson, a guy who has coached up great NFL talent under Matt Rhule at Temple and Bill O’Brien at Penn State, coached him in A&M the last couple of years.
Robinson is considered one of the best at presenting prospects to the pros. He ran Bill O’Brien’s pro days during his time at Penn State as the NFL Liason. How was he not taught to use proper handwork?
Time will tell with Madubuike. I definitely think that the potential is there, but he doesn’t really start to impact the league until late year-two or year three. He shows coachability. He shows athleticism. He just hasn’t put it all together yet.