2022 NFL Draft Scouting Report: Josh Paschalby Ryan Potts April 22, 2022 0 comments
Former four-star recruit Josh Paschal played five seasons in Lexington, KY. He played 45 games, recording 35.5 tackles for loss and 13 sacks. Paschal forced a trio of fumbles and had a 76-yard interception return in 2020. Paschal was a first-team All-SEC player in 2021 for the University of Kentucky. He squeezed out a 90.0 PFF grade in his final season, logging 653 snaps across 12 games for the Wildcats. He was also a multi-year captain and he checks off any off-field boxes.
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Josh Paschal nearly took this to the house for Kentucky. 👀
— Cats Coverage (@CatsCoverage_) October 11, 2020
Name: Josh Paschal
Jersey: No. 4
Position: Edge Rusher
Class: Redshirt Senior
Weight: 270 lbs
Games Watched: Ole Miss (2020), Missouri (2021), Georgia (2021)
Major Injury History: None
Pass Rush Ability (10/15)
Paschal is a devastating power player. He has strong, sturdy hands that can be effective in chops and bullrushes. However, he does not have much of a finesse element to his game. If his initial power move fails, most of Paschal’s game descends into pocket-pushing. While this can be valuable in some circumstances, it also means Paschal is less likely to generate quick wins that lead to pressures and subsequent sacks.
Paschal has a keen awareness of leverage, and he has some reps that he teleports through the offensive line. His knowledge of angles and leverage should enable him to learn some countermoves in the NFL, but he does have some physical limitations that would prevent him from being a speed rusher from the edge. However, he does have enough juice to work as an interior defender where quickness is more of an advantage.
When Paschal could go full throttle toward the quarterback, he had solid explosiveness. He generates tremendous power from his low angle of attack. However, he does not have a true element of speed around the edge. When he gets juiced up, he can be forced to take a longer path around the edge rather than beating the tackle to the spot. By this point, the quarterback can step up, and Paschal’s rep is a waste. Paschal has good short-area explosiveness, but he relies on power more than speed out of that burst.
First Step (8.25/10)
Speaking of burst, Paschal has a strong first step that enables him to translate his initial acceleration into exceptional power on his bullrushes. For his size, he is likely maxed out in terms of his first-step ability which is a scary combination of power and first-step quickness. When unleashed, Paschal closes down space rapidly and forces near-perfect technique from opposing tackles. Kentucky did not let Paschal have as many of these opportunities as one would imagine, but he took advantage of his pedal-to-the-metal reps.
From the edge, Paschal is more casual and takes loose turns. To use a basketball analogy, Paschal’s drives often carry him close to the baseline before he can slip into the paint to attack. In basketball, the goal does not move, but in football, quarterbacks do. Paschal’s bend around the edge is usually fruitless. However, he does have sufficient bend on the interior with his ability to squeeze through gaps. The 22-year-old does have an uncanny ability to slip free of blocks in the run game, so there is plenty of room to grow in the bend department as a pass rusher.
Hand Usage (9/10)
Paschal has firecrackers for hands. His chop moves can generate quick wins, and his bull rush move is devastating if a tackle cannot disengage Paschal’s hands fast enough. Paschal couples his powerful hands with impeccable placement, and he has many reps that see the offensive lineman moving backward immediately. Paschal can push tackles back into their quarterbacks, forcing sacks or premature scrambles. Either way, Paschal’s hands are NFL-caliber.
The Washington, D.C. native’s usage in the Kentucky defense limited some aspects of his motor. There were plenty of reps that involved Paschal setting the opposite edge on a run play or just containing the quarterback. However, some of these plays were the best examples of his high-energy style of play. He was consistently hustling after his initial job was satisfied, and he has an unrelenting motor on pass-rush reps. He always has quality equilibrium with a blocker or pushing the blocker back, even after being engaged for several seconds.
Paschal’s combination of great hands and tireless motor make him an effective tackler. He is not exactly Charles Tillman or Darius Leonard in his ability to force fumbles, but he plays with great leverage and makes high-effort plays as well. Paschal plays low to the ground, securely tackling ball-carriers and quarterbacks alike. As long as Paschal stays on his feet, he has the opportunity to make the tackle.
Strength at the LOS (9/10)
Paschal is like a zip tie. He might not always be pushing forward, but he is never pushed back. He can play with a low pad level, preventing offensive linemen from getting underneath him and disrupting his balance. On attack, Paschal has terrific play strength, putting many tackles in disadvantageous positions with his combination of power and leverage. Much of Paschal’s game is a physics equation, and he almost always has the advantage.
Josh Paschal is a bad man 👀 pic.twitter.com/ODIzpqY9d4
— Jacob Tamme (@JacobTamme) October 10, 2021
Run Defense (9/10)
Paschal is significantly better as a run defender than as a pass rusher. He can be the centerpiece edge defender on early run-centric downs, and it would behoove the offense to run to the other side. Even in these situations, Paschal sets the opposite edge effectively, not allowing cutbacks and discouraging bootlegs. He is a consistent force against the run – PFF noted that he led all Power Five edge players in run-stop percentage. Against Georgia, he had an absurdly impressive rep that he introduced himself to the running back in approximately 0.1 seconds (5:20).
It is no exaggeration to say Paschal played everywhere for the Wildcats. In 2019, he played more than 50 snaps as an off-ball linebacker. While he is highly unlikely to do that in the NFL, Paschal is as scheme-versatile and technique-versatile as any player in the class. He had some reps as an outright nose tackle before playing as a wide-nine edge just a few snaps later. Once he is adjusted to NFL life, Paschal will be a defensive line mainstay for a long time because of his versatility.
This Wildcat is one of the easiest players in the entire class to root for. In 2018, Paschal was diagnosed with skin cancer over the summer. By the end of the year, he had overcome it and played in several games for Kentucky. He is a near lock to be loved in whatever locker room he ends up in, and will likely be a leadership figure down the line. Coaches will love his motor and versatility.
As a prospect, Paschal lacks a refined tool belt, and he does not have the pure athleticism to be anything more than a mediocre speed rusher on the outside. He is a bit of a tweener, and his best fit would have him play run downs on the edge and passing downs on the interior. Paschal is likely to have a comparatively low pressure-to-sack conversion rate, and teams must be willing to accept his pocket-pushing style. With proper expectations, Paschal can be a defensive stalwart for a decade in the mold of a Brandon Graham.
Rookie Projections: Rotational Edge Rusher
Third Year Projections: Three-Down Edge Defender
Final Grade (81/100): Late Second-Round Pick
Player Comp: Emmanuel Ogbah
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Main Image Credit: Embed from Getty Images