Jared Verse’s ascension from relative obscurity to the NFL draft stage has been nothing but inspiring. He parlayed a no-star recruit rating out of high school into first-round hype with stellar performances this season. But is the Florida State EDGE’s scouting report as advertised?
Jared Verse NFL Draft Profile
- Position: EDGE
- School: Florida State
- Current Year: Redshirt sophomore
- Height/Weight: 6’4″, 248 pounds
Verse was born and raised in Dayton, Ohio, but attended Central Columbia High School in Pennsylvania. There, he was a three-sport athlete, competing in basketball, track, and, of course, football.
His basketball highlight reel was filled with dunks and blocks as Verse skied through the competition. Meanwhile, he won the state championship on the 4x400m relay team and ran the 100m, 200m, and 4x100m.
But what about football, you ask? Well, there’s not much to say. As a senior, Verse caught 15 passes for 385 yards, and as a part-time defensive end, he recorded 14 tackles and three forced fumbles.
Unsurprisingly, he was a no-star recruit with zero FBS offers; the production and visibility weren’t there. Thus, Verse had to take his talents to FCS-level Albany to continue his football career.
As a 6’4″ and 205-pound tight end, the coaching staff had him redshirt his true-freshman season to add mass to his frame (roughly 40 pounds!) and make the transition to defensive end. And with COVID hitting the next year, Verse had to wait until 2021 to play on the collegiate stage — the wait was worth it.
He earned CAA Defensive Rookie of the Year that spring and first-team All-CAA honors the following fall. In his two seasons with the Great Danes, Verse produced 74 tackles, 21.5 tackles for loss, 14.5 sacks, 15 QB hurries, two forced fumbles, and one pass breakup.
To take his play to new heights, Verse entered the transfer portal … but he didn’t know just how sought-after he would be. Consensus top-five prospect. 30+ scholarship offers, including Texas, LSU, and USC. Official visits to Houston, Syracuse, Tennessee, and Florida State. And a whole lot of phone notifications.
It was a lot for the young man to take in, requiring a break from social media. But after long discussions with loved ones, coaches, and players at his future home (Jermaine Johnson II and Keir Thomas), Verse announced his commitment to the Seminoles.
Jared Verse Scouting Report
Verse didn’t take long to hit the ground running in Tallahassee. Against LSU in Week 1, he generated two sacks, a blocked field goal, and over a handful of QB pressures.
After the game, FSU defensive ends/special teams coach John Papuchis described Verse’s outing perfectly: “There should be no more questions about whether he’s capable of playing at this level.”
Defensive coordinator Adam Fuller also got in on the Verse love, stating, “This is the best defensive lineman I’ve ever coached.”
But what makes the Florida State EDGE a worthwhile draft prospect, and what can he do to improve his stock further?
Where Verse Wins
Outside of Alabama’s Will Anderson, there may not be an edge rusher with a quicker first step than Verse. He has an education in acceleration, exploding into and past offensive tackles. And he does an excellent job turning that speed into power.
Verse has the get-off, pop on contact, and leg drive to bull rush OTs into the QB’s lap. But what makes him even more dangerous is his suddenness and ability to win on the outside. Few pass rushers can truly win with their bend and speed around the arc — Verse is one of them.
He drops his hips into contact, gains leverage, and uses his length to create space. Once in position, all it takes is a few steps for him to win the outside track.
There are a plethora of plays where opposing tackles nearly have him in a chokehold to keep him from reaching the QB.
With FSU’s tutelage, Verse has also flashed improved hand usage, utilizing chops, swims, rips, and long-arms. He looked more like a bull in a china shop at Albany, penetrating the pocket by simply out-athleting the opposition.
The Florida State EDGE has demonstrated the ability to string multiple moves together with active hands and feet. Additionally, he knows his strengths and plays to them. After dominating with his speed, Verse will threaten the outside before working the soft shoulder inside for effortless pressure.
In run defense, Verse can stun offensive linemen off-balance with heavy hands before throwing them aside to make a play. His exceptional lateral quickness allows him to shoot gaps and slip past multiple blockers right into the backfield.
And his fluidity provides a foundation for quick-flipping hips that Verse uses to align with QBs and ball carriers once beating his man.
Furthermore, he owns the closing burst and pursuit speed to track down runners from the backside of plays and even downfield. Just watch him nearly wrap up Syracuse RB Sean Tucker roughly 50 yards (!) from the line of scrimmage.
That play also exhibits the utter effort Verse brings down in and down out. He doesn’t take plays off and gives his all until the whistle blows. As a result, it’s not uncommon to see him generate second and even third-effort pressures.
Moreover, Verse provides special-teams experience, as he’s contributed on punt return and field goal block units. And although Verse will turn 23 during his rookie season (if he comes out this year), he’s relatively new to the position.
The Florida State EDGE only played defense part-time in high school and had just one full year of experience under his belt on the FCS stage. This is his first year in the FBS (Power Five, at that), and the rise in competition has done nothing but put his otherworldly tools on display.
Verse’s Areas for Improvement
Youth is a double-edged sword for many prospects, and Verse is no different. Since he only has two and a half seasons worth of starting experience on the D-line, many areas need work — chief of which is his play recognition.
There are many plays where the FSU EDGE is late to react to read options, allowing teams to take him out of plays practically. And it can also take him time to identify the ball handler and calculate his rushing path.
Against the run, Verse can be overzealous, shooting upfield and playing into the offense’s hand instead of working down blocks. This leads to overcommitments and wide-open lanes for runners.
And when the Florida State product does get upfield too quickly, he compounds the issue by squaring his shoulders inside rather than maintaining a disciplined position.
As a pass rusher, Verse’s balance is subpar. While he has the bend to turn and burn around the arc, his lower body sometimes lags behind, and he can lose footing.
Even when blowing tackles back with his bull rush, he can take too long to capitalize, granting time for his opponent to reset their base.
Another technical sore spot for Verse is his tackling. He often leaves his feet before securing the ball carrier and takes poor angles downhill.
His long arms offer a vast tackling surface, and his short-area athleticism provides some room for error. But the Florida State EDGE must do a better job of breaking down and aligning his shoulders into the point of contact. But more pressing is Verse’s propensity to raise his pad level. He can drift upright into contact, which offers more upper-body surface area for OTs to latch and stalls his leg drive on power rushes.
Working on his hand deployment is also necessary, as the FSU defender can be inconsistent in his initial placement and counters.
It’s also worth noting Verse suffered a knee injury against Louisville early in the year when a hit from a teammate’s helmet caused it to bend inward. However, it appeared worse than it was, as he strapped on a brace and hasn’t missed a game.
Current Draft Projection for Florida State EDGE Jared Verse
Overall, many of Verse’s areas of improvement stem from his rawness. He didn’t play much on the defensive side of the ball in high school, changed positions at an FCS program, and is only now refining his technique.
That should be a scary proposition for offenses, as one can only imagine the damage he could do as a controlled and polished defender. And as a redshirt sophomore who doesn’t even have to declare in 2023, he’s the type of package NFL teams pay priority express shipping for.
If Verse continues his torrid pace to the finish line, he could hear his name called in the first round. In fact, there’s a chance he goes even higher than Jermaine Johnson did last cycle (26th overall).
With his bend capacity, overwhelming knock-back power, and insane get-off, Verse projects best with his hand(s) in the dirt as a defensive end. You won’t want him much further inside than over the tackle due to his lighter frame and run-fitting issues. And standing him up saps at his explosiveness off the line.
Nevertheless, Verse’s game has a metrical rhythm that leaves viewers longing for more. And if he makes the NFL leap, he could walk in through the first-round door, shoring up one lucky franchise’s defensive corps. That is, of course, after he finishes his collegiate farewell tour.
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