For the majority of his career, Auburn EDGE Derick Hall was one of the most productive pass rushers in the SEC. He now takes his talents to the 2023 NFL Draft, where he’s an under-the-radar prospect deserving of early-round capital. Just how appealing is Hall’s profile, and how high up the board should he rise in April?
Derick Hall NFL Draft Profile
- Position: Edge Rusher
- School: Auburn
- Current Year: Senior
- Height/Weight: 6’3″, 254 pounds
- Length: 34 1/2″
- Hand: 10″
Ever since he joined the Auburn Tigers as a four-star recruit in 2019, Hall was a star on the defensive side of the ball. Particularly over the course of the 2021 and 2022 campaigns, Hall nearly paced the conference with his production behind the line of scrimmage.
In 2021, Hall broke out as an SEC standout with nine sacks, 12.5 tackles for loss, and two forced fumbles in a career-best campaign. Already an established threat in 2022, he built on that breakout performance with 6.5 sacks, 11.5 TFLs, an interception, and two more forced fumbles.
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Hall has been productive, and one could argue he’d have been even more productive in 2022 if Auburn’s game scripts had invited more passing from the opposition. Nevertheless, there are enough pass-rushing reps on tape to back up Hall’s ability and his NFL projection. All that’s left now is to discern how high he might go next April.
Derick Hall Scouting Report
Hall isn’t always mentioned in the same breath as the 2023 NFL Draft’s top edge rushers. But Hall lays claim to a scouting report and grade worthy of early-round consideration. Where specifically does he land among the other 2023 prospects? Let’s take a closer look.
Very few edge rusher prospects have as complete a skill set in the 2023 NFL Draft as Hall. It starts with his physical build. At 6’3″, 254 pounds, he’s a dense, compact, and well-leveraged edge defender. But with that size, he also brings rare proportional length and arms nearly 35″ long.
Hall springs out of his stance with a quick first step, offering great explosive capacity off the line. He also has great closing burst when he has an open path to the QB and accelerates quickly on the attack with brisk foot speed. With his high-cut frame and long limbs, he quickly widens his strides to compound acceleration upfield and breaches the apex — adding an extra dimension to his explosive approach.
At the NFL Combine, Hall logged strong athletic testing numbers. At his size, he ran a 4.55 40-yard dash with a 1.59 10-yard split, while registering a 33.5″ vertical jump and a 10’7″ broad jump near the 97th percentile. Those numbers simply reaffirm the explosive athleticism that Hall possesses.
With his burst and elite proportional length, Hall has uniquely strong raw power capacity for his size. With that raw power, he’s shown to sustain and drive through power rushes with quick, steady leg drive upon making contact. In fact, Hall effectively maximizes his power output by aligning his base behind rushes and fully channeling with his length.
Additionally, Hall can torque through blocks in run defense with hip rotations and full extensions. And his length allows him to outreach far larger players and maintain grip.
With elite composite power, Hall can line up inside and stunt along slanted angles, serving as a nail on exotic looks. But he also has a functional bend component as well, with his ankle flexion being the strongest trait in that category.
Hall can suddenly chop rushes at the apex and tightly swivel around blockers to wrap up the QB. He can also corner and accelerate into the pocket while keeping himself clean with his length.
Hall’s bend capacity might not be elite, but he’s flashed the ability to sink under tackles and pinch the apex while sustaining his leg drive. He also has the flexibility to recoil at contact while carrying acceleration around the edge, as he’s able to snap up and rip past the apex. And as a contain defender, Hall has enough hip flexibility to swivel around, break off blocks, and flood to the boundary in pursuit.
Hall’s burst and power are his strongest physical attributes, but he’s also a very agile and twitchy rusher. He has the lateral twitch to quickly adjust attack paths and load sudden momentum into contact. With his lateral athleticism, he quickly works across-face against tackles and counters inside after feigning outside.
Hall has the change-of-direction ability to quickly redirect momentum, shift around, and engulf opponents in pursuit. Going further, the Auburn EDGE has the short-area twitch and foot speed to quickly sidestep blocks and slice through narrow gaps in run defense.
Along with his length and frame density, Hall brings translatable play strength to the NFL. In run defense, he quickly forklifts blockers with his length and prevents displacement, then pries his way into gaps and swallows up runs. Hall has the play strength to establish a half-man relationship on the edge and long-arm blockers to secure the boundary.
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Play strength is ultimately what allows Hall to set a strong edge, then violently rip down anchors to deconstruct and engage in pursuit. But his strong natural leverage also contributes to this.
Hall very consistently leverages himself to maximize control and rarely plays upright at contact. He routinely attains proper alignment, both when holding positioning and exerting power. He can lower his pads, activate his base, and fully channel his traits.
We’ve established that there are very few holes in Hall’s physical profile, but he also does well to maximize that profile with execution and hand usage. In particular, Hall has a vast array of power combos. He uses energetic stutters to widen tackles, then abruptly aligns his hips and bull rush inside with force. He’s also able to stack violent rip moves and swims off long-arms and bull rushes after driving blockers to the apex and getting a step.
Beyond those combinations, Hall has a forklift rip and can work across-face with quick double-swipes, gaining separation with his lateral agility. After displacing tackles with power by violently extending inside the torso, he pries off blocks with active hand usage. And at the start of reps, he’s able to offset tackles with initial rushing angles, then surge inside and capitalize.
Overall, Hall is a high-motor rusher who consistently works through contact and seeks out the QB with energy, and he has impressive recovery ability mid-rush. He’s able to maintain his balance and drive even after lurching and having his extensions snatched by blockers. That relentless energy in the face of resistance makes him a constant pressure threat.
In pursuit, Hall brings plenty to like as well. He peels off the line and hustles to run down short passes on crucial downs. With his closing speed — quantified well by his 4.55 40-yard dash — and elite wingspan, he envelops opponents in the backfield when he has an open lane.
Hall has exceptional pursuit speed, which he uses to play to the boundary and wall off outside runs. He’s also shown to read keys quickly on options and follow the ball, with the ability to recognize motions and quickly pursue to the boundary. Finally, Hall proactively uses his length to reach past blocks and force ball carriers out of preferred paths.
Hall’s Areas for Improvement
As you might have gathered from the wall of text above, Hall’s 2023 NFL Draft scouting report is overwhelmingly positive. That said, he’s not a perfect prospect, and there are negatives to note.
With his relatively high-cut frame, Hall doesn’t quite have elite hip flexibility or bend around the arc. While he has enough bend to work with, the Auburn EDGE can’t always shrink himself and pinch the corner.
Hall doesn’t have elite play strength, either. He can be directed out of plays after peeking outside to seal the edge. And as a pass rusher, he can get locked down by stronger anchors early in pass-rushing reps.
With his high-cut frame, Hall does occasionally drift a bit too tall when adjusting angles. As a pass rusher, he’s sometimes over-reliant on his power element to break into reps early. He could employ more variance with initial moves and continue to expand his arsenal.
In pursuit, while Hall’s combination of athleticism and length is appealing, his game is imperfect. His motor dies at times when he’s not on the play side, and his tackling ability is very streaky. He has the requisite play strength to finish at contact, but his wrapping ability could improve, as he sometimes slips off ball carriers in space.
Lastly, Hall’s play recognition on options can be inconsistent. The Auburn EDGE sometimes triggers prematurely on the wrong player.
Current Draft Projection for Auburn EDGE Derick Hall
Hall receives a top-32 grade on my personal board. I’d consider him late in Round 1, especially for schemes that would use him as a stand-up EDGE. But if he falls to Day 2, he’s a priority prospect in that range, who could be an excellent value pick, depending on where he settles.
Hall’s profile is unique because he has a mix of both high-floor and high-upside traits. He doesn’t quite have elite bend capacity, but he’s an explosive, powerful EDGE with a rare mix of natural leverage and proportional length. He also has the hand strength and motor to be a constant threat.
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With his burst and elite proportional length, Hall’s power element is his most enticing quality. He not only has high-end raw power, but he consistently maximizes that power with proper application, using hip alignment, torque, and full extensions to plow through tackles. Hall capitalizes with violent rips, swims, swipes, and other combos, after first applying power.
Analyzing his profile as a whole, Hall has the burst, length, power, agility, and hot motor to be a treacherous pass-rushing threat at the next level, with enough bend and hand strength to properly accentuate his powerful play style. Additionally, with his strength and speed, Hall can set the edge in run defense, shed blocks, and make plays in pursuit.
Particularly as a stand-up edge rusher in odd-front alignments, Hall can be a productive impact pass rusher at the NFL level for a long time. And as long as he shores up his tackling ability, he can provide early-down utility as well. At his ceiling, he could be a high-level starter, carrying over his production to the professional game.