He has Kevin Greene’s hair and reminds a scout of former special teams stalwart Larry Izzo. With West Georgia linebacker Dylan Donahue, Mike Maccagnan hopes he’s found a little bit of both players.
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- 2015: 12 sacks, 52 tackles, 17.5 tackles for a loss
- 2016: 13.5 sacks, 67 tackles, 20 tackles for a loss
Measurables Courtesy of mockdraftable.com:
|40 Yard Dash||4.75s||83|
|20 Yard Shuttle||4.46s||58|
|Bench Press||26 reps||58|
Donahue is a second generation NFL player (his father Mitch played in the league) with a very productive two seasons at Division II school West Georgia. The sole West Georgia product to be invited to the combine last February, Donahue has some intriguing athletic traits that signal some upside in terms of explosiveness as a pass rusher.
Examples of his play are limited to just one game from draftbreakdown.com, but it’s clear he’s a man amongst boys at the Division II level – something you need to see from a prospect making this kind of jump. His first step is noticeably more explosive than his teammates and he is often able to blow right by outmatched Division II tackles. This was enough a lot of the time to disrupt the quarterback and a frequent go-to, but Donahue also showed good understanding of leverage with a strong bull rush and an occasional inside countermove.
Donahue combines his athletic abilities with a relentless motor. This draft had a theme of aggressive, high energy players and Donahue fits that profile. After two rounds of defense and two of offense, there is a common understanding that Donahue could be an ideal special teams player (a scout told Rich Cimini he reminded him of Larry Izzo).
Donahue will be 25-years-old by the start of the season, making him one of the older rookies in the league (for reference, he’ll be roster competition for 3rd year pass rusher Lorenzo Mauldin who isn’t 25 until October). Despite having some nice athletic testing at the combine, Donahue is undersized, particularly as it pertains to arm length and hand size.
The simple truth is that he’s a long shot as a full-time edge player. His arm length is low enough to be scored at the 0 percentile point in mockdraftable’s database in comparison to other defensive line prospects. This is pivotal in the run game where not only will all tackles and most tight ends have a mass and strength advantage, but will have the physical advantage in the leverage battle as well.
Even at the Division II level, Donahue had trouble as a finisher. As impressive as he looks with his first step or pushing tackles into quarterbacks, he left plays on the field through a number of misses sacks or tackles in the run game. He has some traits that give him upside as a situational pass rusher, but he’ll be frustrating even as a special teams player if he doesn’t improve his ability to finish plays.
You could say this for basically every rookie the Jets have drafted, but Dylan Donahue joins a roster where a solid first training camp could have him on pace for an immediate impact. At linebacker the Jets have some highly drafted young players, but no established young players. The best case scenario with Donahue is the Jets have found a player that can push Lorenzo Mauldin as a situational edge rusher that Mauldin could not be last year, in addition to eventually developing into a special teams stalwart. He’s not going to push Jenkins as a three-down linebacker, but Donahue has athletic traits that could make him a useful rotational rusher at some point down the line. In fact, he’s already reportedly received first team snaps at edge in the nickel page during OTAs.
The fifth round is roughly the point in the draft where 53-man roster quality talent can start to deteriorate. Donahue is an NFL caliber athlete and brings a tireless motor but age, size and competition concerns are all big question marks. Expectations should be low, but there’s no reason Donahue can’t develop into a special teamer and perhaps have some utility as a pass rushing specialist at some point in his career.
Photo Courtesy: www.newyorkjets.com