Robert Beal Jr., EDGE, Georgia | NFL Draft Scouting Report

Robert Beal Jr. has a similar athletic profile to Brian Burns and David Ojabo. Does he have the film to match? The AFC North may just find out.

The EDGE position in the NFL can see many different types of athletes fill that role. It all depends on fit and style with the team who drafts them. Even fronts like an EDGE to put a hand in the ground and have some power to their game. A team who runs an odd front may like an edge rusher to be lighter and faster with an ability to use speed to get the passer, and athleticism to drop in coverage.

With a good chance to hear his name called in the middle rounds of the 2023 NFL Draft, Robert Beal Jr. is the latter. Here’s a look at everything you need to know regarding Beal’s scouting report.

Robert Beal Jr. NFL Draft Profile

  • Position: EDGE
  • School: Georgia
  • Year: Senior

Beal played high school football at Peachtree Ridge and was coached by Mark Fleetwood. He was named a PrepStar Magazine five-star prospect and the 27th-ranked player nationally. ESPN also declared Beal a five-star player and the second-ranked defensive end nationally while being the third overall prospect in the state of Georgia. Rivals.com, meanwhile, had Beal as a four-star prospect and the ninth-ranked weakside DE nationally.

Beal was a participant in the Under Armour All-American Game on Team Highlight. He led his high school team to a 6-6 record in 2016. He recorded 18 tackles, a tackle for loss, an interception, and a touchdown in a five-game stretch during that season.

MORE: 100% FREE NFL Mock Draft Simulator

As a freshman in 2018, Beal played in 11 of 14 games and finished with 15 total tackles. The following year in 2019, he took a step back and saw action in only four games and had eight total stops and one QB pressure. 2020 wasn’t much better for Beal, as he played in seven of 10 contests. He was added to the kick coverage unit that year, adding special-teams versatility to his résumé.

2021 was something of a breakout year for Beal. He played in all 15 games, starting in two, and finished with 23 total tackles, including a team-high 6.5 QB sacks, with 16 QB pressures on the season. In his final season, he was even more effective in pressuring the quarterback. Beal played in all 15 games, starting in eight, and had 26 total stops and 20 QB pressures to go along with three sacks.

Robert Beal Jr. Scouting Report

Strengths: Athletic pass-rushing front-seven prospect who can come out of a three-point stance or stand over tackle. Plays with great pad level, keeps his feet moving, and effectively uses his hands to protect himself.

Strong for his size, defeats blocks, and makes plays behind the line of scrimmage. Fast, forces the action upfield as a pass rusher, and moves well laterally. Smooth and fluid dropping off the line into space and stays with assignments in zone coverage.

Weaknesses: Marginally productive at Georgia. May not be able to handle a lot of responsibilities or a complex defensive scheme.

Overall: Beal is an athletic prospect who has shown flashes of ability. He possesses a tremendous amount of upside, but he really must develop a complete game and start to produce on the field more consistently.

Robert Beal Jr. Combine Measurements and Results

The NFL Scouting Combine gives us a great opportunity to see how players stack up in various testing environments. Luckily, PFN has full databases of both NFL Combine measurements and NFL Combine results. Below is everything you need to know from Beal’s Combine performance.

  • Height: 6036
  • Weight: 247
  • Arm: 34 ⅝”
  • Hand: 10 ⅛”
  • Bench Press: 14
  • 40-Yard Dash: 4.48

Robert Beal Jr. Current Draft Projection

According to Tony Pauline’s Big Board, Beal is projected as a fourth-round pick in the upcoming NFL Draft. His grade of 3.54 makes him the 12th-best outside linebacker available and No. 127 overall, regardless of position. By comparison, his teammate Nolan Smith is projected as a first-round pick.

Beal’s Relative Athletic Score of 7.42 is considered “good.” He gets dinged for having poor size at the position, but to be fair, that is comparing him to all defensive ends, including those who are projected to play in more even front packages. As a standup edge player, Beal is similar in size to last year’s second-round pick, David Ojabo. The key difference is that Beal is faster.

Beal’s speed is a big differentiator for him. He ran a blazing 4.48 40-yard dash and projects as a prototypical pass-rush specialist. He’s got long arms at over 34” and can fly to get his body into position to use them.

The challenge for Beal is the film. He never started a full season and lacks the power and explosion to perhaps ever be an every-down edge player. His three-cone was underwhelming, given his long speed, especially compared to a player like Brian Burns, who also has real strength problems.

MORE: 2023 Industry Consensus Board

Like Burns in his rookie year, and even now some, the fear could be that Beal is a net loss against the run on clear run downs. Burns can get to the passer, though, almost at will.

Part of that is taking what the three-cone showed and putting it on the field. If Beal can demonstrate growth in his corner-turning in camp, he has the speed traits — and some better measurables than Burns — to carve out a role as a true specialist in key passing moments. Some teams call this the green package, or NACAR. Burns has a stronger strategic repertoire, and that is something Beal will also need to develop.

When I ran through the PFN Mock Draft Simulator, I found myself drawn to using and drafting Beal with two AFC North teams. First, I like the Pittsburgh Steelers as a fit. They run a great scheme for him, even though he’s a little lighter than what they’re used to. They’ll have a hard time paying both T.J. Watt and Alex Highsmith, and having a young developmental guy in the wings can’t hurt. It’s the exact thing they did with Highsmith.

Their bitter rival, Baltimore, is the other. The Ravens drafted Ojabo last year coming off an Achilles injury that he looks to be fully recovered from. Risk of re-rupture is low, but it wouldn’t hurt to have a similar player in terms of profile developing in the wings. This would be a great spot for Beal to learn the position on one of the best defenses in all of football.

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