NFL.com analyst and former NFL scout Daniel Jeremiah takes a "first look" at some of college football's top players for 2023. This is the first in a series of scouting reports that will run in July.
Five years ago, Jared Verse was a high school tight end with no FBS scholarship offers.
Verse began his college career at FCS Albany (New York), moving to the defensive line. He redshirted in 2019 before becoming one of the most highly touted transfer prospects in the nation thanks to his breakout performance in the spring 2021 and fall 2021 seasons (the team did not play in fall 2020 due to COVID-19 concerns).
His success translated to the FBS, as he earned first-team All-ACC honors in 2022, his first season with Florida State. In fact, I was shocked when Verse elected to stay in school and passed on declaring for the 2023 NFL Draft last January. I studied his tape last fall and assumed he would head to the NFL because he was playing at such a high level at a premium position. I respect that he felt he had unfinished business at FSU, and I expect him to be one of the most dominant players in the country this season.
I wanted to get a fresh look at his tape this summer. Now that I've had a chance to go back and study three of Verse's game tapes from the 2022 season, here is my initial scouting report.
Height, weight: 6-foot-4, 253 pounds (school measurements).
2022 statistics (12 games played; nine starts): 48 tackles, including 17 for loss with nine sacks, one fumble recovery and one blocked kick.
Game tape watched: vs. LSU (Sept. 4, 2022), at Miami (Nov. 5, 2022), at Syracuse (Nov. 12, 2022) and all nine sacks.
What I liked: It didn't take more than 10 plays into my study to realize Verse has some very intriguing traits.
His get-off is outstanding. He explodes out of his stance (three-point and two-point). He covers a lot of ground immediately with an explosive first three steps. He has shock in his hands. He jolts offensive tackles, uprooting them and severely impacting their balance. He flashes an array of moves to win as a pass rusher -- up and under, club/swim and inside long arm are three of his most effective techniques.
He is very firm at the point of attack in the run game. He uses a violent club move to destroy tight ends and pursue the ball-carrier on the front side. He uses his speed to chase plays on the back side.
Where he needs to improve: Verse has some issues changing directions in space and bending at the top of his pass rush. He is very explosive and powerful, but some hip and ankle tightness show up in his tape. He has the size and speed to occasionally drop into coverage, but he would struggle to redirect versus athletic tight ends. I don't see this as a major issue. He's going to make his money rushing the quarterback and setting the edge.
Biggest takeaway: There are so many things to love about the way Verse plays the game, but one word shows up more than any other when I study my notes: EFFORT! I jotted it down several times. I highlighted it. I wrote it in all caps. I starred it. It showed up in every game, multiple times. That is the most underrated trait in every great pass rusher. He doesn't play with a governor on his effort. Run or pass, he is always chasing the ball to and through the whistle.
He reminds me of: Ryan Kerrigan. Verse isn't quite as big, but his game closely mirrors Kerrigan's when he was playing at Purdue. It's a combination of power, effort and the ability to finish plays. I can remember watching Kerrigan make chase plays from the opposite side of the field on a consistent basis in his collegiate days. Verse plays with that same relentless motor on every snap. Kerrigan enjoyed an outstanding NFL career, earning four trips to the Pro Bowl, and I believe Verse has that same potential.
I can't wait to watch him play: vs. LSU on Sept. 3. How's that for an opening weekend matchup? Verse and the Seminoles will square off against one of the most talented teams in the nation at a neutral site (Camping World Stadium in Orlando, Florida). LSU features a very athletic quarterback (Jayden Daniels) and a young, talented offensive line. I can't wait to see how Verse plays on the big stage! The stadium will be jammed with NFL scouts. I expect him to rise to the occasion and make a huge impact on the game.