Draft Analysis: Pick 3.95—McTelvin "Sosa" Agim
Coming out of high school, Sosa Agim (pronounced UH-geem) was a five-star prospect and the number one player in Arkansas. He was so dominant in high school that his coaches' game plan was to just keep him on the field as much as possible, playing the 270 lb lineman as an oversized wildcat QB and kick returner (minute 1:05).
Agim arrived at the University of Arkansas with sky-high expectations, but his performance never quite lived up to the hype. That's partly because he had to transition from a 3-4 defensive end to a 4-3 defensive tackle when the program hired a new defensive coordinator ahead of his senior season. Even though three technique looks like a natural fit, Agim is still relatively new to the position.
The former top recruit's much heralded potential shows up in flashes, but at this stage his game is still incomplete (which is what you expect with a third round pick). This article highlights the baseline traits that made Agim such a sought-after prospect coming out of high school, as well as what we can expect from him against the run and the pass.
Burst and Power
Agim's most exciting traits are his burst and power. He is quick off the snap and moves exceptionally well for an interior player. These traits showed up in two first quarter plays against Ole Miss (below). On this first play the Rebels attempt to run power left behind a pulling RG. The center is charged with blocking Agim, who is lined up over the soon to be vacated right-side A gap. But Agim is simply too fast off the ball for the center, and bursts into the backfield to disrupt the play (left defensive tackle, number 3).
After converting a third down Ole Miss tries the same play to open the following series. The result is nearly identical. Agim again shoots upfield and blows the play up before it really begins (LDT).
This play showcases Agim's excellent movement skills for a man his size. He does a great job skipping past the diving center, maintaining his balance with a light hand to the ground, and tracking down the ballcarrier. It was the last time Ole Miss tried pulling a guard in front of Agim.
In addition to getting upfield in a hurry, Agim plays with substantial power. On this play he does a great job driving his legs and pushing the RG into the backfield to disrupt the run (LDT).
That combination of burst and power also makes for an effective bull rush. Here, he explodes off the line with excellent pad level, converting his sudden first step into a forceful surge towards the QB (DT).
This is the sort of athletic foundation you're looking for in a three technique DT.
A Lack of Anchor in the Run Game
Despite possessing some power Agim struggles to hold the point of attack. Double teams clear him off the line with ease. On this play the guard and tackle walk him five yards off the line, removing him completely from the lane (LDT).
And on this play the LSU line pushes him all the way back into the end zone, allowing the ballcarrier to score through Agim's gap (LDT).
Agim struggles to anchor at the point of attack even when facing a single lineman. On this play the RG thoroughly seals Agim away from the running back, creating a nice lane (that the ballcarrier happens to be incredibly late getting to) (LDT).
It's a real concern, as powerful linemen like LSU's Damien Lewis are capable of totally dominating him (number 3, getting pancaked).
Asking Agim to anchor in the run game and defend two gaps is a mistake because (a) he's not good at it, and (b) he actually is good at making plays when attacking upfield, shooting gaps, and using his burst to generate power, as shown below (RDT).
Emerging Pass Rush Skills
Agim has the sort of explosiveness, strength, and movement skills that make for serious upside as a pass rusher. Of course, to succeed in the NFL Agim will have to harness his athleticism and channel it into actual pass rush moves.
Agim shows flashes of a workable swim. On this play it looks fluid and natural, but he doesn't bust it out very often (LDT).
At this point Agim's best move is the rip, which he puts to excellent use here against the Ole Miss RG. I like how he engages the guard with a strong punch before ripping his right arm up into the lineman's armpit as he forces his way upfield (LDT).
Here's another example of Agim's rip move, this time against Kentucky (LDT).
A freeze frame shows Agim executing the move to perfection. His right arm is locked under the guard's (and above the elbow), making difficult for the o-lineman to recover. And he's driving upfield off his outside leg, forcing his shoulder through the guard.
The only issue is that attempting a rip commits the rusher to a single line of attack, making it impossible to control two gaps. Agim loves his rip move and uses it often, but occasionally it allows blockers to use his momentum against him. On this play he rips through to the right but gets sealed out of the play in the process (LDT).
Here's another example where Agim loses position while attempting a rip (LDT).
He shows promise as a pass rusher but leans a bit too heavily on his rip and needs to diversify his arsenal.
Sosa Agim shares several key characteristics with his now-teammates Dre'Mont Jones and DeMarcus Walker. All three are versatile interior linemen with excellent movement skills. All three play better against the pass than the run. All three struggle to anchor at the point of attack, and are most effective as run defenders when shooting gaps and causing disruption in the backfield.
This tells me that the Broncos are likely finished with DeMarcus Walker, ending a project that never really got off the ground in the first place. That's a shame, because Walker has done nothing but display the very skills that led the Broncos to draft him in the first place.
Even though Agim is rougher around the edges than Walker was coming out of Florida St., there's a good chance he flourishes in Denver. His pass rush moves are not nearly as advanced as Walker's were, but Agim is bigger and plays with more power. And perhaps most importantly, he has a coaching staff on his side that will likely put him in a position to succeed.
Agim will have to grow as a player to truly make it in the NFL. He will have to get stronger at the point of attack, cut down on the number of plays he takes himself out of, and develop counters for when his primary pass rush moves don't work. But it's not difficult to see those things happening. If they do, Agim has the makeup of a high level contributor. And that's what you want out of a mid-round pick—a viable path to production.