Player to Watch: Terry Beckner Jr

[dt_divider style=”thick” /]Many eyes will be on Missouri games this year to get a look at their quarterback, Drew Lock. But on the other side of the ball, they have a former five star recruit who deserves just as much attention.

Terry Beckner Jr’s All-SEC freshman team season was cut short with a torn ACL and MCL in his right knee. His sophomore season was cut short with a torn ACL in his left knee. He was able to avoid injury in 2017 and had a breakout season, amassing 35 tackles, including 11 for a loss, and 7 sacks.

Beckner has the size, strength and speed attributes that get defensive line coaches salivating. He was listed at 6’4” and 305 pounds last year but reports from the SEC Media day show he has been hard at work, losing 15 pounds while adding 6 pounds of muscle. He indicated that he didn’t feel himself until their sixth game in 2017 against Georgia. Looking at his stat comparisons from the first 6 weeks versus the last 7 you can see the difference.

First 6 games: 14 tackles, 2 sacks, 2 tackles for a loss

Last 7 games: 21 tackles, 5 sacks, 9 tackles for loss

Stronger, lighter and healthy for his senior season, color me interested.

Against the Run

Playing in Missouri’s 4-3 defense under defensive coordinator Ryan Walters and veteran defensive line coach Brick Haley, Beckner plays primarily inside at the 3 technique spot but will line up all over. Missouri will also occasionally kick him outside on passing downs to play the edge.

He flashes good quickness at the snap with the ability to knife into the backfield and disrupt plays. When he has a gap he displays excellent acceleration to close on the ball carrier. He uses his hands well to keep lineman off of his frame and show the strength to stack and shed. He anchors well versus double team blocks and shows the lateral agility to slide with outside zone blocks or work through traffic. He shows good aggression when making a tackle to ensure the ball carrier goes down when he arrives.

Against the Pass

Seven sacks from an interior lineman is a good number right off the bat. He has all the elements to make him a consistent producer while pressuring the quarterback from the inside. The quickness to stress an offensive lineman, the strength to drive a man back in the pocket, and the athleticism/speed to chase down a quarterback are all there. He’s shown a bull rush, swim and hump moves in the games watched. He may have not been asked to do too much as a pass rusher last year, but this season he’ll be the veteran on the defensive line and will likely be relied upon a bit more.

Trait Highlights

Read and React: At Connecticut, on a first down play, he’s lined up at the 3 technique and shows good reaction time when reading the pulling right guard. He’s able to burst through the line and make an easy tackle for a loss.

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Athleticism: Again at Connecticut, this time on a third down, he’s the penetrator on a twist. He shows good quickness and balance to work through the LOS while keeping his eyes on the quarterback. Shows off his athleticism getting up to knock down the pass and nearly get the interception.

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Lateral Quickness: At Arkansas, again as the 3 tech, Beckner reads the guard pulling to the outside. He then shows good lateral quickness and hand strength to move the tackle aside while tracking the ball. Takes on the pulling center, fills the gap, brings the running back to a stop, and allows the linebacker to make the tackle.

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Playing the Backside: At home against Texas, on an outside zone run to his right, Beckner plays with his eyes up, using one arm to hold off the tackle trying to make a cut block. Good COD to stop, square up, and rip down the runner.

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Beat the Reach: Versus Texas again, Beckner is lined up as the 1 technique on a third and two in the fourth quarter. Another zone run to his right and he bursts up field to beat the attempted reach block from the guard to drive him 3 yards deep in the backfield and cut off the running lane.

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Big Guy INT: At Vanderbilt, on first and goal, he’s lined up over the center as the 0 technique nose tackle. Shows what looks like a contain rush, not making a lot of push into the pocket. Reading the quarterback, he halts his momentum, gets his hands up for the interception and then shows off his return skills by running it back 49 yards. Who doesn’t love a big guy interception?

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Areas to Improve

His strength is evident but he plays upright at times. Playing with more consistent leverage would make him even more formidable on the interior. He is a playmaker, no doubt there, but there seems to be less than ideal effort on some plays and maybe that was due to coming back from the knee injuries. His pass rush plan needs to see expansion, adding more moves and being able to counter can only cause more issues for his opponents. I feel he has yet to peak in this area and shows promise to possibly get to double digit sacks.

Can He Stand Out?

The defensive line position is loaded in this year’s draft with guys like Ed Oliver of Houston, Christian Wilkins of Clemson, Nick Bosa of Ohio State, and Rashan Gary of Michigan so there will be lots of competition for end of the year awards. With a full season, completely healthy, you’re going to hear his name a lot and he will be high on many draft boards by the end of the year. After winning 6 of their last 7 in 2017, Mizzou fans are hoping the Tigers can continue to improve. Beckner’s best has yet to be seen. Hopefully, we won’t have to wait much longer to see it.

Follow Tom on Twitter @THMead3. Check out his other work here, such as his look at Washington RB Myles Gaskin, his preview of Virginia RB/WR Olamide Zaccheaus or his look at how paying a high salary veteran QB may hurt your chances of winning.

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