Edge Defender- Defensive End/Strong Outside Backer
University of Southern California (USC)
Listed Height- 6’4″
Listed Weight- 260 Pounds
Gustin will be a junior this year at USC. He was pretty highly touted coming out of high school for his athletic ability but it was uncertain which position he would play in college. In high school, he played inside linebacker and quarterback. During the recruitment process he was listed nationally as just an athlete. Gustin also played baseball (pitched 93 MPH) , basketball and competed in track where he threw javelin and shot put (winning his 2015 regional title). Eventually he declared to USC where they lined him up at outside linebacker. His freshmen year he saw limited snaps but appeared in every game and recorded 25 tackles, 7 TFLs, & 5.5 sacks. USC used him a lot to cover the curl-flat area. Coming into his sophomore year, you saw a big improvement in the way he looks, he bulked up a great amount. He was able to start every game in 2016 and finished with 68 tackles, 13 TFLs and 5.5 sacks. I’m extremely excited for what this guy could be, more so than where he is now, as a player. He’s still very young at the outside backer position, this will only be his 3rd year there.
When you talk about Porter Gustin’s strengths as a player, one of the first things that come to mind is actually his upper body strength. It appears he lives in the weight room, the guy is huge physically. He’s now listed at 6’4″ 260 pounds. To go along with his extremely strong upper body, he has good arm length. He does well at using his arm extension, it really allows him to control blockers. He moves them aside and chases the ball. Does well getting off blocks and making tackles on inside run plays away from him. Plays with an excellent motor and is always in pursuit of the ball, he may have the NCAA record for the number of times he has jumped in a pile on tackles. Early on in the season, Gustin really struggled with his leverage and not being explosive with his hands. This caused him to either get driven off the ball or being stood up as a rusher. It appears something clicked somewhere around the Washington game, late in the season and it was beautiful to see. He was dominant the final 4 games of USC’s season against Washington, UCLA, Norte Dame & Penn State. You watch him earlier on in the year against a team like Alabama and he just flew straight up in his stance and got driven off the ball 5 yards. You could see hesitation in him reading his blocks, allowed him to be reached on outside run plays. You didn’t see much of a plan as a rusher, he really just flew off the ball and put his helmet in guys chest and expected it to work. He really lacked that leg drive to get penetration on a bull rush. You watch him in those final 4 games and he’s reading plays faster, he’s getting up field. Setting the edge on a guy like Penn State’s star RB, Saquan Barkley. He was constantly in the backfield chasing down QBs. It appears he really started to understand how to dip around a linemen’s hip. His strong upper body allowed him to swipe linemen’s hands away, outside and inside on his rushes. You saw a nice swim move start to develop, linemen really just couldn’t get their hands on him. Showed a nice one arm bull rush a few times, I call this the bully move. If he’s unable to get to the QB, he does well getting his hands up in the passing lanes and swatting the ball down, he’s a pretty explosive leaper, recorded 4 pass deflections as a sophomore. Has really nice movement skills covering the flats, quick feet for his size. Started to do really well splitting pullers and making tackles in the backfield later in the year. Became an excellent run defender as the season progressed.
Weaknesses/Concerns/Room for Improvement
Porter is a very gifted athlete but I wouldn’t call him a freak. You see him tight hipped at times. When he has to tackle guys in open space, he can have trouble redirecting and staying square with the ball carrier. As a rusher he will have the QB locked in his sights but then the QB makes a move to avoid him & he’s unable to redirect and even falls down at times. Better angles to the QB could help him there. I would say he’s fast off the ball but he isn’t crazy explosive off the ball, not someone that would win with just speed alone. He needs to continue to become more comfortable with reading blocks and understanding his assignment. I felt he really struggled with taking on blockers on the move, I questioned his contact balance at times. You saw him fall down a lot & he got blown up often when they attempted to chop him, didn’t show great awareness for that. Needs to continue to perfect his leverage, I don’t want to see him fly straight up off the ball and get blown up this year. Would also like to see him add more lower body strength, or perhaps just play with better body positioning. He may not have the frame to put on much more lower body strength. Last year, I don’t believe teams were afraid to run at him. In read option, I felt he got far too over-pursued inside and wasn’t able to redirect against athletic QBs outside. I want to see him put all of his moves together and be more explosive with his hands. He can dip around the corner of an O-Linemen, he can throw a OL aside with his swipe and move, lets see it put together smoothly. I feel he was ripping and then dipping instead of making it one fluid motion. As a tackler, I’d say overall he’s pretty good, does well of wrapping up. However, on many of his rushes, they’re more ankle tackles, would like to see him go through the QB more, maybe even make some more plays on the ball. Everybody loves numbers, so as dominant as Porter was at times pressuring the QB, you’d like to see him finish the play.
Overall, I love Porter Gustin as a rusher and edge defender prospect. Excellent athlete w/ an extremely strong upper body that allows him to control linemen. There’s no reason if he plays like he did in the final month of the season that he shouldn’t have double digit sack numbers this year. This is a guy you will hear a lot about this year for the highly televised USC. Don’t feel like anyone else is saying this right now but I could easily see him going Top 15-20 in the 2018 draft. Looking for a big season this year from Porter.
He could really play any scheme as a pass rusher. To fit in with a 4-3 I’d like to see him add more lower body strength, so he can hold up better at the point of attack. In a 3-4 he could step in right now as a strong side backer. Has even showed adequate ability to cover the flats. Dallas needs guys who can get pressure on the QB consistently, I really believe Gustin can do that. His athletic ability/strength make him very hard to block. He would be a weak side defensive end on running plays and a strong side defensive end on passing plays.
Potential Top 25
Top 50 ?
Highlights/2016 Game against Washington
If there’s someone else you want me to do a report on, let me know and I’ll definitely check him out. You can either leave a comment on this report or you can tweet me @dexterharris28 on twitter.