Photo of Vernon Gholston
Grade
?
  • 4.67 SEC
    Top Performer
  • 37 REPS
    Top Performer
  • 35.5 INCH
    Top Performer
  • 125.0 INCH
    Top Performer
  • 7.12 SEC
    Top Performer
  • 4.40 SEC
    Top Performer
  • 6'4" Height
  • 258LBS. Weight

Overview

Vernon Gholston is a remarkable talent, but he's only just begun realizing his vast potential.

He never picked up a football until his sophomore year in high school and had just one season of defensive experience as a linebacker before being converted to defensive end when he arrived at Ohio State.

Blessed with incredible speed (clocked at 4.56 in the 40-yard dash), long limbs and superb strength, Gholston is the prototype pass rusher that professional teams look for -- big, fast, strong and explosive. An avid performer in the weight room, he boasted the best bench press on the team at 455 pounds. He also put on an impressive performance for teammates, squatting 405 pounds 20 times.

How Gholston was lured into football will one day make a nice story, if he becomes the legendary pass rusher many personnel experts are predicting. Walking in the halls of Cass Technical High School, football coach Thomas Wilcher spotted the 14-year-old strapping youngster, who stood 6-3, 240 pounds at the time. He convinced the player to join the football team.

Gholston was too big to play in Detroit's Police Athletic League and the elementary public schools did not offer an organized football program. From the first time he ever stepped on the field, the coaching staff knew they had a natural talent.

As a sophomore at Cass Tech, Gholston was first tried at linebacker, but he was overwhelmed by the plays he needed to know to play that position. One of the offensive coaches "stole" the youngster away from the defensive squad and had him play offensive guard as a sophomore. His junior campaign was limited by ankle sprains, which forced him to stay on the offensive line and scrap plans to also play linebacker.

By his senior season, he had already earned All-State honors as an offensive lineman and gained experience playing linebacker for the first time in his career. In just one season on defense, he was regarded as one of the best linebackers in the Midwest region. He would go on to record 75 tackles with six sacks in his final season, as Rivals.com rated him the 11th-best defensive end prospect in the nation and the 12th-best overall prospect in the state of Michigan.

Gholston enrolled at Ohio State, becoming the only player from Michigan on the squad. He turned down scholarship offers from Michigan, Michigan State and Iowa to join the Buckeyes. The coaching staff immediately began giving him a crash course in playing the "Leo" position, which incorporates dropping into pass coverage and rushing the passer from either side of the field.

He mentored under Mike Kudla his first year with the team, appearing in six games as a true freshman in 2004, but did not record a tackle. In 2005, a broken hand suffered in the second game vs. Texas earned Gholston a medical hardship. He had one tackle in that game and spent the rest of the year on the sideline.

Gholston used that time wisely in the weight room, bulking up from 238 to 264 pounds, as he took over "Leo" duties in 2006. He garnered All-Big Ten Conference second-team honors, as he ranked fourth in the league with 15 stops for losses of 86 yards and was fifth in the Big Ten with 8.5 sacks. He added a quarterback pressure with two pass breakups and an interception. He also finished sixth on the squad with 49 tackles (21 solo).

In 2007, Gholston earned All-American recognition and was a finalist for the Ted Hendricks Award, given to the nation's top defensive end. He posted 37 tackles (25 solo) and was a terror in the backfield, ranking eighth in the nation with 15.5 stops behind the line of scrimmage and second nationally with 14 sacks. He also scooped up a fumble and returned it for a 25-yard touchdown.

In 34 games at Ohio State, Gholston started 25 times. He registered 87 tackles (47 solo) with 22.5 sacks for minus-184 yards and 30.5 stops for losses of 199 yards. He had two pass deflections and an eight-yard interception return, as he also recovered a fumble that he returned 25 yards for a touchdown.

Analysis

Strengths

Positives: Has a well-built frame with a wide back, broad shoulders, V-shaped torso, large hands, long limbs, defined muscles throughout and thick thighs and calves...Excellent speed rusher who needs to be accounted for on every play and has good field presence, locating the ball quickly to fly to it and contain the run...Has the ability to consistently disrupt the backfield, as he has the speed to escape and the strength to overpower offensive tackles off the edge...Plays with the type of effort and emotion that makes a coach comfortable knowing that he will make plays all over the field...Has great flexibility and balance working down the line and changing direction...Has a low center of gravity and strong anchor, making it very rare to see him on the ground...When he is taken off of his feet, he is quick to recover and get back into the action...Has loose hips, good knee bend and balance in his running stride when chasing long distances...Has rare ability to run the field for a player his size and can be sudden in his initial movement...Shows the in-line range and low pad level to shoot the gaps, playing with leverage when competing at the point of attack...Shows the effort to impact the play even if he doesn't make the tackle...Plays with a high motor and shows a natural feel for the game, as he continues to improve his ability to anticipate and jump the play...Self-starter with a great passion for the game and is a hard worker in the training room...While very confident in his ability, he is also a humble character with no off-field issues...Rare to see him talk trash and just goes about his business...Has a sudden first step to defeat an offensive tackle coming off the edge and the uncanny ability to anticipate the snap cadence and time his jumps...His low center of gravity lets him consistently shoot the gaps...Has that good blend of quickness and strength to hold ground at the point of attack...Has the quickness to penetrate when working inside and is very disruptive coming off the snap, as he is quick and active with his hand punch to rock the bigger blockers back on their heels...Could punch and shed blockers sooner but he can get upfield and collide with the ballcarrier with good pop on contact...Has the lower-body flexibility to drop his weight and leverage at the point, displaying the body control needed to split double teams...Generally uses his hands effectively to shed and separate, as he battles until the whistle...Can close in a hurry in the short area and takes good angles in pursuit to make plays outside the box...Has the speed to flatten and chase from the backside or the outside...Strong wrap-up tackler who can adjust in space and finish plays on his own...Consistently plays on his feet and is very quick coming off the edge, as he can turn the corner, showing the flexibility and counter moves (must be more consistent with the counter) to come under and also has the strength to bull rush or push the pocket...Is starting to develop a good feel for his pass-rush package (still needs to rely on those moves more) and knows how to keep his hands off and get free...Also capable of maintaining inside position when he sinks his pads...Has the second gear to close on the pocket and, while he gets most of his sacks off backside pursuit, he is also able to take an in-line gap to impact the backfield. Negatives: Has loose hips to drop back in pass coverage, but when he gets too tall in his backpedal, he fails to get a clean turn coming out of his breaks...Instinctive player, but is still a relatively new to the game and needs more reps to help him gain experience, as he relies on his athletic ability...Has improved his technique, but can't be considered a technician using his hands or displaying an array of pass rush moves...Must develop a better feel for blocking schemes, as he doesn't always protect his body from cut blocks and is not yet consistent at splitting double teams...Can be fooled by misdirection and while he gives total effort, he sometimes can't find the ball until it is past him. Compares To: JOHN ABRAHAM-Atlanta...Both players rely on a perfect blend of strength and suddenness off the snap to wreak havoc in the backfield. Gholston has a relentless motor in pursuit. If he had more on-field experience, he could be an outstanding linebacker at the next level. However, with teams looking for hybrid Cover-2 pass rushers, he is perfectly capable of impacting the backfield coming off the edge or dropping back into the zone to cover vs. the pass. He is still a raw talent that gets by on his athletic ability, but in a few years, with patient coaching and more experience, he has the potential to change the game, much like Abraham, Dwight Freeney (Indianapolis) and Jason Taylor (Miami) have done playing in that role.
C
Grade Title
9.00-10 Once-in-lifetime player
8.00-8.99 Perennial All-Pro
7.50-7.99 Future All-Pro
7.00-7.49 Pro Bowl-caliber player
6.50-6.99 Chance to become Pro Bowl-caliber player
6.00-6.49 Should become instant starter
5.50-5.99 Chance to become NFL starter
5.20-5.49 NFL backup or special teams potential
5.01-5.19 Better-than-average chance to make NFL roster
5.00 50-50 Chance to make NFL roster
4.75-4.99 Should be in an NFL training camp
4.50-4.74 Chance to be in an NFL training camp
No Grade Likely needs time in developmental league.
NFL News
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