JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -- Several days before the Senior Bowl, former Auburn defensive end Dee Ford was asked to which current NFL player’s style he’d compare himself. Instead, Ford went old school.
"Why can’t I say Lawrence Taylor?" he asked. "That’s what I want to be like. I want to be the greatest."
Ford looked a little bit like LT during Saturday’s Senior Bowl. He had two sacks and deflected a pass in the first half, caused another incompletion, and drew two holding penalties to earn MVP honors. That was just a continuation of the dominance he showed throughout the week of practice.
The 6-foot-2, 243-pound Ford gave linemen fits all week. His explosiveness off the line helped him get the edge and he consistently got to the quarterback in drills. There wasn’t a tackle that could keep up with him.
Not many did during the season, either. Ford had 10 ½ sacks in 2013, including two of Florida State quarterback Jameis Winston in the national title game.
"Speed," Ford said of his best pass rush move. "All day. Speed."
That's a big reason the Jacksonville Jaguars' staff really liked Ford. They worked Ford out at leo last week and Ford called the position a "perfect fit." He does fit more as 3-4 outside linebacker who also can rush as an end. He’s still a little light at 243 pounds and the hope would be that he would be able to add 10-15 pounds of muscle and not lose any speed.
"Dee is exciting," coach Gus Bradley said. "I really like his personality. I like his spirit. He loves the game and he showcases that on the practice field. Anytime a guy can come off the edge and show the ability to have some rushes in him, it really stands out."
Ford said he had no trouble in the all-star setting because he said playing the SEC and the pressure to perform at Auburn during the run to the national championship prepared him well. He said that should get him ready for the NFL, too.
It’s interesting that Ford would list Taylor as the player he’d like to emulate because Taylor was in the last few seasons of a Hall of Fame career when Ford was born. Ford has never seen him play but has seen enough highlights and done enough research to know that Taylor was the most dominant defensive player of his era.
"He had everything," said Ford, who may have been able to move himself into the first round because of his performance last week. "He had everything. He had speed, power, he played hard, [and] he was physical. He had everything."