There’s no shortage of EDGE talent in the 2023 NFL Draft, and as we move through the offseason, Missouri’s Isaiah McGuire is a name who needs more hype. McGuire’s scouting report is very strong in relation to his national prestige, and down the stretch, he could be a surprise riser.
Isaiah McGuire NFL Draft Profile
- Position: Edge Rusher
- School: Missouri
- Current Year: Senior
- Height/Weight: 6’4″, 271 pounds
Only a select few edge defenders in college football had double-digit tackles for loss in both 2021 and 2022. McGuire was one of those players. You don’t always hear his name, but in a league where production strengthens your perception, McGuire is more productive than most.
McGuire’s ascent was a bit slower than other prospects. He came to Missouri as a mere three-star recruit in 2019 and was little more than a rotational player in 2020. But in 2021, McGuire emerged as a budding star on the Tigers’ defensive line.
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In 2021, McGuire racked up 55 tackles, 14 tackles for loss, six sacks, and a forced fumble. In 2022, he matched those numbers and then some, earning 14 more TFLs, 8.5 sacks, and two forced fumbles.
McGuire got the recognition he deserved in 2022, earning second-team All-SEC honors. But now, as an NFL draft prospect, there’s still room for him to keep building his case. Turn back the tape, however, and you’ll see it’s already a strong one.
Isaiah McGuire Scouting Report
McGuire was one of the most productive edge defenders in the SEC over the past two seasons. But looking at the tape, does he have the traits to back up the stats?
Often, prospects are underrated because they lack a physical quality that would draw onlookers to them. That’s not the case with McGuire. While he doesn’t have much mainstream hype, McGuire has all the tools. At the center of it all is his mix of size and explosive athleticism.
McGuire is an elite-size threat on the edge with excellent frame density and rare length. He stands at 6’4″, 271 pounds, with arms nearly 35″ long. Few can match McGuire’s measurables, but the Missouri EDGE takes it a step further with his quickness off the line.
For his size, McGuire is a springy, fleet-footed athlete, who explodes into contact and generates initial momentum with ease. Not only does he have superb initial burst, but McGuire also has the high-end long-strider acceleration to gain ground upfield quickly and breach the apex. At that point, he accelerates through the apex and surges past with powerful bursts. He also has good twitch and energy as a rusher when attacking vertically.
McGuire’s high-end combination of explosiveness and length adds up to elite power capacity. His hands have visible knock-back power at the point of attack. When he fully extends, McGuire can brutally shove blockers off the line. With his raw power output, he plows blockers back and crunches the pocket, and can sustain power rushes with menacing leg drive.
Beyond his pure raw power capacity, McGuire has also shown to maximize his power output with functional application. He’s proficient at lowering his pads and properly acquiring leverage into contact. To that end, he’s able to properly load his base off the snap, fully extend into contact, and torque through blocks.
With his size and displacement capacity, McGuire has the surface-level feel of a power rusher. But he’s much more than that. McGuire flashes extremely impressive ankle flexion for his size. He can reduce his surface area and pinch impressively tight angles while streaking around the apex, and he can corner blocks with eye-catching efficiency.
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Physically, McGuire has an all-encompassing toolbox as a pass rusher. What’s even more exciting is that he’s a violent, experimental rusher with overwhelming hands and energy. Power is a big part of his game, but he’s proven himself to have an arsenal of moves and an eagerness to vary his plan.
First and foremost, McGuire has shown to exert power into the torso, then use his length to rip around the corner. He leverages rip moves very well and can under the opposing tackle’s extensions to peel through.
Going further, McGuire has the ability to flash his hands, thereby baiting blockers into extending, before attempting to rip. He can also widen blockers, then brutally extend inside the torso with bull rushes and long-arms, leveraging his base behind power rushes.
There are flashes of brilliance with McGuire’s hand usage on tape. He could still be more consistent, but he’s shown to levy violent double-swipe-rip combos at the apex, while multitasking and using bend-to-corner blocks. McGuire also has a violent swim and arm-over, and effectively swipes the anchor and stabs the ice pick to seal the deal.
Tying everything together, McGuire brings a relentless motor in pursuit of the quarterback and is a constant strip-sack risk with his length and energy. He’s a constant fighter in congestion and doesn’t relent in contact situations.
In run defense and pursuit, McGuire’s amalgamation of tools holds weight as well. With his high-level play strength, he’s able to lock out and set the edge with a strong core and base in run defense, preventing displacement. He effortlessly pries through exterior gaps with his length and core strength, and can envelop runners early in reps.
Put a tight end on McGuire, and you’ll pay the price. The Missouri EDGE has the power, grip, and core strength to violently stack and shed tight ends like rag dolls. In fact, no matter the matchup, he can stack, shed, and deconstruct with impressive quickness and zeal, and forklift blockers back with his strength.
In pursuit, McGuire’s explosiveness and wingspan can be overwhelming for ball carriers. He swallows up runners with his reach and washes over plays like a tsunami as a backside pursuit defender. Additionally, McGuire flashes impressive change of direction when tracking ball carriers at the line and correcting tackling angles.
Areas for Improvement
Above all, McGuire could be more controlled and balanced in both phases. He has the tools and proper disposition but can still be too volatile with his technique and leverage management.
With his taller frame, McGuire sometimes gets worked upright quickly after contact, which can detract from his leverage. He also sometimes loses his balance after exerting power, and there are times when he’ll lead with his head approaching contact, failing to get his hands up. This also gives opponents more surface area to work with.
As a pass rusher, McGuire’s hands could be more efficient and composed at times. He doesn’t always properly load and exert to maximize energy efficiency, and he has some extraneous hand motion early in reps. McGuire’s length can be difficult to manage, and it’s clear he’s still learning how to maximize it from rep to rep.
This need for further refinement shows up in run defense as well. McGuire’s raw tools make him hard to deal with, but his hand strength can be better channeled. He isn’t always able to rip through anchors working across-face. Especially when drifting too far upright, McGuire can be easy to gather and grab onto.
Elsewhere, while McGuire has good bend for his size, his hip flexibility isn’t quite elite. He can’t always roll through the apex and shrink before being walled off. And at times, his hips appear a bit tight laterally. The Missouri EDGE can’t always open up his hips and stunt laterally with freedom.
Among other things, McGuire sometimes fails to recognize pulling blockers in pursuit and traps himself by heading too far upfield. While he has a hot motor, recklessness on the chase can flush him out of plays. Although he has great explosiveness, McGuire’s long-track pursuit speed is less dominant. He’ll fade out on longer tracking plays.
Current Draft Projection for Missouri EDGE Isaiah McGuire
In a stacked EDGE class, McGuire is yet another prospect who deserves early-round consideration. After the Senior Bowl, he could vault up as a potential top 50 pick. On my board, that’s where McGuire grades out off of the tape. He’s a traits-rich prospect with enviable power and flashes of actionable hand use and run discipline.
If you’re looking for a prospect who checks the boxes from top to bottom, McGuire is one of those players. He’s big, explosive, strong, powerful, and has bend. McGuire can acquire leverage and properly exert power, and he has a working arsenal of pass-rushing moves, which he actively builds off his elite power element.
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With his burst, McGuire can get upfield quickly and stress tackles. He’s then able to generate power from that burst or shrink around the apex with ankle flexion. With his violent hands, McGuire can build on top of his traits and give tackles too much to handle. In run defense, his length, play strength, and violence can be similarly dominant.
Improved control and efficiency remain areas of emphasis for McGuire, but the Missouri EDGE has the tools, production, and trajectory to be considered one of the top EDGE prospects in the 2023 NFL Draft. Particularly for teams that value size and length outside the tackle, he provides that and more.