Playing on the edge, whether a player starts standing up or in a stance, requires explosive reaction to the snap. An edge rusher will fire into blockers, spin, swim, rip and whatever other technique he may need to move past whatever's in front of him in an effort to get to the passer or the ball carrier.
Clemson defensive end Vic Beasley had loads of success as an edge rusher in college. Doing against collegiate competition obviously isn't the same as going against hardened NFL veterans, but viewing where he is now is a limitation on where he could be with some work.
Beasley flashes his instincts and ability to locate the ball carrier quickly. This play against Georgia last season demonstrates that. It looks as if the replay is in fast-forward.
Beasley is leaning outside and reading the block of the left tackle, he cuts back to his inside, blows past him. Watch how he's active with his hands, a key for success for a pass rusher. Beasley's an exceptional athlete, and will likely test well at the 2015 NFL Scouting Combine.
There's a lot to be said about a pass rusher's first step, and Beasley's is already working at a high level. Easily his best trait as a prospect, Beasley fires off the ball well, and he's also relentless. He plays with aggression, and his game is definitely more speed than strength at this point in his career (read: this likely isn't a player who comes in and plays 90 percent of the Steelers' snaps in 2015, but he could be used situationally as a pass rusher right away). But he doesn't quit, and that has to count for something.
Defensive coaches love these kinds of sacks and they give offensive coaches coronaries. Pure effort from Beasley. Ohio State quarterback Braxton Miller thinks surviving Beasley's initial charge was enough for him to be able to stay in the pocket and make a play. Beasley attacks again, and eventually brings him down.
Beasley's a top 10-level athlete, but he lacks the size of the very best prospects at the position (i.e. Missouri's Shane Ray). At about 230 pounds, he'll have to get a big bigger and stronger in order to play outside linebacker in a 3-4 defense, and he'll have some work to do in terms of leveraging and challenging the tackle, as opposed to working to blow past him on every snap.
This play against Florida State illustrates one of the concerns with Beasley, and while not entirely likely, it could be the reason Beasley falls into the 22nd pick range.
This is just one play of many and shouldn't be taken as a reason to not draft him, the tackle on this play, unlike others, is prepared for his speed rush, and Beasley fails in an effort to take him out wide. Beasley's counter move, a spin, comes late, and comes at half the speed of his initial rush. Without ideal length for the position, much of Beasley's success will have to come on his speed rush. Steelers fans have seen the one-dimensional rush of Jarvis Jones for a while now, and, like many younger players, there's some of that in him, but Beasley's first step is incredibly fast, and good coaching, good weight room habits and hard work can make him into a dominant edge player.