Jermaine Cunningham – DE – Florida
Scout: David Syvertsen
Height/Weight: 6’3/252 lbs
Ideal System: 4-3 Cover 2 – Similar to Indianapolis Colts
Pro Potential: Robert Mathis – Indianapolis Colts
Pass Rush/Closing Ability/Moves and Counter Moves: A pure edge rusher in every sense of the word. Consistently beats the blocker to a spot and gets him position to reach the back arm of the quarterback, Uses his hands well with proper knee bend to maximize his outstanding use of leverage. Needs to add double moves to his repertoire, struggles when he tries to break through the inside shoulder of the tackle.
Pursuit/Lateral Movement and Agility: Very athletic in space and has the speed to beat backs to the line of scrimmage on the opposite side of the ball. Takes proper angles when moving down the line. Can avoid the meat of a block in space with last second quickness.
Quickness/Explosion: Possesses as much explosion from a three point stance as any pass rusher in the country. Can get in to a blocker’s body prior within his first few steps, giving him a leverage, balance, and positional advantage right away. Changes direction on a dime and can adjust on the fly. Very light on his feet.
Run Defend/Recognition: Reads the offense very well, but does not play the run well. He struggles to fight off straight ahead blocks, even from tight ends. His range however is a factor on runs away from him. Makes tackles in space consistently. Struggles to bring down a ball carrier when engaged with a blocker.
Size/Length/Hand Size: Does not have the kind of bulk you want in an every down lineman, but his lower half has really improved since his sophomore season. Has strong legs that can make up for his smaller upper body, which does have the room for more weight. Long arms are used correctly in creating separation from a blocker.
Strength/Ability to Shed Blocks: Very strong below the waist, can consistently move where he wants to when he wins the leverage battle. Does not disengage well and if a blocker gets both of his hands on him, it’s all but over for Cunningham. Just doesn’t have the strength in his hands and arms to throw away a blocker.
Tackling: Number of tackles has declined each year since his sophomore season. Doesn’t find himself near the action often enough. Makes tough tackles in space with his range and short area explosion. Does not send a jolt to the ball carrier, more of a contact absorber.
Technique/Hand Use/Leverage: Very technically sound. Understands the benefit of doing all of the little details correctly to better himself as a pass rusher. Consistently plays with lower pads than the blocker opposite of him. Keeps his rear down and hands up, giving him a sense of control when in egaged on the edge.
Versatility: Has experience on the left and right sides with both his hand in the dirt and standing up. Has played the role of an outside linebacker, dropping in to coverage and running in space with backs. He is a versatile weapon that can create mismatches across the line while offering the ability to drop back in to coverage on zone-blitzing packages.
Final Word: Cunningham was an overlooked edge rusher on a talented Florida defense. He often graded out higher than Carlos Dunlap in SEC games, another Gator defensive end that has some scouts talking about the top ten as a landing spot. Cunningham is a high-effort player that leads by example. He is on the field more than any Florida defensive lineman because he is a player that is in outstanding shape and really takes care of himself off the field. His role in the NFL will revolve around his ability to explode off the wide edge and close the pocket. If he can add and maintain bulk, he could be a very effective every down defensive end or outside linebacker.