Throughout the summer, National Scout Jon Ledyard, Assistant Director Joe Marino and Scouting Director Kyle Crabbs will be conducting summer assessments on 99 notable senior prospects. Of these 99 seniors, the 33 most prominent will be covered by all three analysts.
Of the remaining 66, each of the three analysts has “drafted” 22 of them to scout exclusively.
This serves as the foundation for our 2018 draft assessments.
Scout: Kyle Crabbs
Name: Da’Shawn Hand
Position: Edge Defender
Date of Birth: 11/14/1995
High School: Woodbridge (VA)
Games Played: 39
Games Started: N/A
Team Captain: No
Production: 44 tackles, 7.0 sacks, 10.0 tackles-for-loss, one forced fumble
High School: Unanimous 5-star prospect. 2012/2013 USA Today All-American. No. 1 strong-side defensive end by Rivals.com and top player in the state of Virginia. Rivals 2012 Junior of the Year. Rated No. 5 in the 247Sports Composite and No. 7 in the 247Sports Top247, while ranking as the No. 1 strong-side defensive end and No. 1 player in the state. Junior and senior all-state. Received over 90 scholarship offers, eventually choosing Alabama over Michigan and Florida.
College: 2016 Lombardi Preseason Watch List.
Games watched: Clemson (2015), Tennessee (2016), Clemson (2016)
Strengths: Plays with a good motor as a rally defender; finding the football with quickness and working down the field. Has a good level of pop in hands to stun and attack offensive linemen. Ability to shoot hands is complimented with a naturally powerful frame, does not appear to illustrate high levels of natural length but hand power will allow for an extended stack of blockers prior to shedding and working into pursuit. Recovery ability after losing at first contact is notable as well, does well to plant the feet and hold fast again a lateral push.
Weaknesses: Is unimaginative as a pass rusher; have not seen a lot of notable counter moves to play off of contact and flatten as a pass rusher. First step and release off the line is marginal, although a lot of reps are taken as a true defensive end. Hand’s lack of length, twitch and power will make him a more desirable defender in the B-gap, so edge rushes are not an area in which he should be asked to play with consistency. Lack of length can compromise point of attack work if hands aren’t landing clean on first blow. As a limited rotational player, it’s undetermined how an additional workload would impact motor and urgency in pursuit.
Summary: Young recruits have a daunting task when walking on to a powerhouse school like the Crimson Tide: it’s not often that an opportunity to get anything other than marginal reps come along. This is the case for Da’Shawn Hand, who enters his senior season as a rotational role player. Although Alabama has used him in a number of ways, it isn’t necessarily an indication of versatility. Hand offers little other than power and second effort as a pass rusher, so relying on him to be a defensive end at the next level is still very much of a roll of the dice.
This season should provide some clarity for Hand, although he’s already dug himself a bit of a hole after being cited for a DUI over the summer. It’s been announced that Hand will not miss any time against Florida State, but this has the makings of a do or die season for Hand. As is, he’s shown enough prowess as a gap run defender and enough natural strength to garner attention. But if he’s going to make a play to be coveted as a potential starter at the NFL level, this season is going to be essential.