Junior | 6’4”, 230 lbs | Atlanta, GA
Lengthy edge-rusher with good range and block disengagement, but must work on diversifying his pass-rushing repertoire.
A Georgia state champion, Malone signed with WKU as a three-star recruit in 2017. After making 25 tackles in 11 games (three starts) in his first year, he turned around and led his team in sacks (6) during his sophomore stint. As a junior, Malone racked up 11.5 total sacks, which tied for 11th in the country with A.J. Epenesa. He also finished tied for 3rd in the country in TFL’s (21), tying recent 2nd overall pick, Chase Young. Going into his senior season as the reigning C-USA Defensive Player of the Year, Malone needs to show improvement in his pass rush abilities.
Strengths of his Game:
- Long arms allow him to make first contact with blockers often.
- Consistently able to disengage from blocks.
- Rarely has tackles broken.
- Really good closing speed.
Areas to Improve:
- Undisciplined in setting the edge, shuffling towards the middle of the field instead of keeping the contain.
- Dances too much while trying to beat blockers. Relies on his agility if he can’t win with speed.
- Small pass rush repertoire. Has only really executed swim moves and push-pull moves.
- Shows promise with really good hand use, but just need to see it more consistently.
- First step quickness needs to improve.
- Missed 4 games with high ankle sprain in 2018
- Had offseason shoulder surgery in 2019
Way too Early Projection:
In some early mocks and big boards, Malone is currently priced as a 3rd/4th round pick. His frame and agility are promising. He will need time as a backup to develop his technique. He is versatile, lining up with his hands in the dirt anywhere from a 3-tech to a wide-9 on the ground and standing up from any linebacker position. Despite his versatility, he will fit best as a stand-up edge rusher in a 3-4 scheme.
What to Watch in 2020:
Malone flies around the field and makes plays from seemingly everywhere, but he needs to unleash his inner beast this year. I want to see him aggressively attack the quarterback, which he’s shown glimpses of in 2019 against UAB and Charlotte. The majority of his sacks are clean-up sacks, where he takes the QB down after preliminary pressure from someone else. As for his rush moves, there isn’t much to see aside from occasional speed and swim moves. He changes direction a lot in hopes to find an opening in the offensive line instead of trying to beat his man one-on-one. Against the run, he fails to keep contain and relies on his speed to force the runner out of bounds with his reach and closing speed. He needs to be disciplined enough not to get sucked in to the middle. He must also improve his first-step quickness if he wants to keep up with the speed of the NFL. Ultimately, for Malone to really catch the eye of NFL scouts, he needs to be a more aggressive pass-rusher.