In one of the worst defensive line classes in memory, some names are noticeably sticking out. One of them is Alim McNeill from NC State. McNeill was a running back and linebacker in high school before adding about 50 pounds to his frame to become a nose tackle for the Wolfpack. There are a few things that stick out immediately when watching him. Those are his power and strength. Unfortunately, there are some traits in his game that don’t make him a complete prospect.
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Name: Alim McNeill
Position: Interior Defensive Line
School: NC State
Weight: 320 lbs
McNeill has a good first step which gives him an immediate advantage over the center and guard. His first step usually put him in a good position to beat the linemen right from the get-go.
Pass Rush Ability (7/10)
While his pass rushing isn’t the first thing that comes to mind, McNeill is no slouch in this regard. He had 5.5 sacks during his sophomore campaign. McNeill won’t have to come off the field on obvious passing situations, thanks to this.
Block Shedding (9.5/10)
There is no giving up when McNeill is in a battle with one, two, or even three linemen. He uses his hands to combat his opponents and uses his power to get any crease to win against the lineman.
McNeill wins with his leverage and raw power to outmuscle the linemen he is going against. He can get through linemen at any rate and does so while plowing through the interior of the offensive line.
He isn’t going to slide through any crease in the offensive line to get to the ball carrier. McNeill likes to go through his opposition instead by using his power and strength.
Football IQ (6.5/10)
McNeill focuses on bulldozing through the offensive line and doesn’t seem to take the time to diagnose what’s going on in front of him. He forces his way through the offensive line and will go through the long gap and it allows for a long gain offensively.
Lateral Movement (7/10)
For a 320-pound player, McNeill moves well for his size. He has a good get-off at the line of scrimmage, but it doesn’t translate for the rest of the play. There were a few times where McNeill tracked down the ball carrier.
McNeill is a solid tackler, but he is prone to missing tackles often. He will throw himself at the ball carrier in hopes his momentum will knock them off balance and let the other defenders get to him.
McNeill can play in both 3-4 and 4-3 schemes. In a 3-4, he is a nose tackle and could play as a one and three-tech in a 4-3. McNeill can play all three downs and is a solid pass-rusher along with a great run defender.
McNeill puts forth consistent effort. The problem is that he seems to get gassed fairly easily, which isn’t too big of a concern. While we have mentioned him playing all three downs, he likely won’t at the next level and will need to be rotated fairly often.
The injury sheet appears to be clean for McNeill.
In a lackluster defensive line class, McNeill is one of the players that should go on day two. He is a powerful defender that has some pass-rush talent as well. McNeill can fit in any scheme and is a versatile prospect that is a mauler and people-mover in the middle of the defensive line. In his first year, McNeill should be relegated as a two-down player while he develops as a pass-rusher.
Final Grade (77.75/100): Late Third Round