One scouting report describes JaQuan Bailey as a “nightmare for even the most skilled linemen.” That’s good news because the Philadelphia Eagles have always been fond of dreams and nightmares.
The team signed the former Iowa State defensive end on Saturday as an undrafted rookie free agent. The first-team All-American could be nothing more than a training camp body, or he could turn into a valuable member of the scout team like fan-favorite Joe Ostman.
Bailey certainly has an appetite for the quarterback as evidenced by his 25.5 sacks, the career mark at Iowa State where he’s the all-time sack leader. He finished his college career with 150 total tackles, plus four forces fumbles and 13 passes defensed.
Philadelphia Eagles free agent deal for JaQuan Bailey includes $40,000 guaranteed: $15,000 signing bonus, $25,000 of his base salary is guaranteed
— Aaron Wilson (@AaronWilson_NFL) May 2, 2021
The Florida native was forced to take a medical redshirt in 2019 after braeking his foot after three games. He showed no ill effects during his bounce-back senior year at Iowa State, then put up impressive numbers at his Pro Day: 4.72 in the 40, 7.31 in the three-cone drill, 9-foot-2-inch broad jump, and 19 reps on the bench press.
“I was always taught that leverage was the most important thing in football so getting off the ball quickly and getting that leverage is something I pride myself in,” Bailey told Stampede Blue. “From working on explosiveness and timing snaps, it is all really important to work on to have that good get-off.”
— afootballaddict.com (@_txhsfb) September 24, 2020
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Scouting Report: Weird Alignments, Game of Leverage
Bailey’s biggest skill might be his first step and the way he uses it to out-leverage the offensive lineman in front of him. The other thing that stood out on the tape is how he dips his shoulder when bracing for impact with the quarterback. Sports Illustrated’s The Draft Bible praised his production in “weird alignments.” Meanwhile, Tony Pauline of The Draft Network talked about his “get-off” and understanding that football is a game of leverage.
Bailey isn’t the strongest defensive end out there. But he makes up for it by being exceptional at converting speed to power. Football is a game of leverage, and you don’t always have to be stronger than your opponent to put him on his heels or back.
Bailey is a plus defender when it comes to using an offensive lineman’s leverage against him. This, combined with his first step, makes him a nightmare for even the most skilled linemen.
Iowa State DE JaQuan Bailey could be a nice depth player on day three of this draft. Strong defensive end with good size and strength. Powerful hands and has decent bend for a player with his weight. Love how he uses his hands to create pressure pic.twitter.com/JAJybWBiwF
— Zach Hicks (@ZachHicks2) March 30, 2021
Looking at Eagles Depth Chart
The Eagles only have six defensive ends on the depth chart heading into camp: Brandon Graham, Derek Barnett, Josh Sweat, Joe Ostman, Matt Leo, plus sixth-rounder Tarron Jackson. Genard Avery rotated in as an edge rusher in 2020, but the new coaching staff is planning to convert him back to linebacker.
That means Bailey should get a chance to compete right away, possibly battling fellow rookie Jackson for a final spot on the roster. Funny since the two share similar traits. Both are undersized and struggle with the ability to “bend the edge.” Jackson weighs in at 6-foot-2, 260 pounds compared to the one-pound heavier Bailey (6-foot-2, 261 pounds).