Former Michigan linebacker/defensive end Josh Uche finally had his chance to be a starter on defense for the first time in 2019. With limited playing time the year prior, Uche made his presence known on the field, racking up 7 sacks. As a full time starter last season, Uche played at linebacker extensively but also lined up at defensive end, too. The Michigan standout tallied 8.5 sacks and 11.5 tackles for loss in 2019, along with 2 forced fumbles.
Here’s a look at what Uche can bring to an NFL squad.
Height/Weight: 6-foot-1, 245 pounds
Projected: 2nd/3rd round
Combine Results: 18 bench press reps
How he fits for the Patriots
One of the biggest questions about Uche was why Michigan and defensive coordinator Don Brown were unable to have him on the field more in Ann Arbor. That will not be a problem with the Patriots, who will be able to slide him right into the role left behind by free agent departure Kyle Van Noy. This is a tremendous fit and a tremendous get for Bill Belichick and New England.
- Great speed for a LB. Uche’s coverage skills are growing but his quickness makes up for some mistakes. A prime example of this was against Penn State speedster KJ Hamler where Uche displayed recovery speed and was able to break up what would have been a long gain.
Know this ball was underthrown but not going to see many LBs make the play Josh Uche did. Running downfield with KJ Hamler and finishing the play. Special athlete. pic.twitter.com/xeeDzj7QRs— Alex Kozora (@Alex_Kozora) April 6, 2020
- Ability to get around the edge with quickness.
- Above average bull-rush for someone his height and weight.
- High-motor and plays with energy late into games.
- Versatility will be appealing to some teams.
- Hard hitter.
- Tremendous job of getting low while maintaining his balance and beat linemen.
- Played well in zone coverage.
- Excels at slipping through gaps.
- Needs to develop better hand technique when engaging with linemen who are much bigger than him.
- Relies on a bull rush far too often instead of using hand techniques to gain leverage and get around them fast. Doesn’t utilize a swim or spin move much.
- Undersized as a pass-rusher at 6-foot-1, will have to improve fundamentally to stick around in the NFL.
- Only one season of starting experience.
- Had a torn meniscus and stress fracture in his foot.
- Remains to be seen whether he can play well consistently in man-coverage.
Uche is the type of a player that needs to be drafted by a team that has a defensive coordinator ready to use him in a creative way. Likely not a starter in year one, Uche is best served to be utilized in certain packages that highlight his strengths. A year to sit and learn a bit with an NFL team could do Uche wonders, as his pass-rushing abilities are still a work in progress. The speed is there, fundamentally sound tackling is there, but he’ll have to get stronger and develop more tricks as a pass-rusher to see extensive playing time as a professional. The high ceiling could lead to Uche being a second round selection, but his lack of experience, size, and the rawness to his game may lead to him slipping into round three. He’d certainly be worth a second round pick by a team who believes Uche would be a great fit in their scheme.