Position: Interior defender (one-technique)
School: Washington Huskies
Combine Performance Data
40-yard dash: 5.13 seconds
Bench press: 33 reps (tied for second among defensive linemen)
Vertical jump: 31.5 inches
Broad jump: 8 feet, 9 inches
Three-cone drill: 7.65 seconds
20-yard shuttle: 4.66 seconds
Elijah Qualls 2017 NFL Draft Profile
Elijah Qualls is a different kind of 300-pound interior lineman. This is a guy who played running back as a senior in high school and ran for over 700 yards. Still, in weighing 282 pounds as a senior, Qualls shifted to his more natural position as a defensive tackle and a nose. He was recruited out of Petaluma, CA as the 33rd ranked player in the state, and a four-star recruit.
As a freshman, Qualls appeared in eight games. He put 13 tackles with two going for a loss. That year, Qualls teammate Danny Shelton was drafted in the first round. It opened a bigger role for him on the Huskies defensive line, and he took advantage. As a sophomore, Qualls put up 26 tackles, 4.5 for loss and an impressive 4.5 sacks.
It led the way for a big senior season. In that year, Qualls produced 38 tackles, five for loss to go with three sacks. Qualls was an All-Pac 12 performer and helped lead the Washington defense to a Pac-12 championship, and game in the College Football Playoff. In that game, he showed his versatility, playing on the edge to help in the rush defense and keep big bodies on the field against the Alabama offensive front.
Coming off of a productive season, and a strong showing in the national spotlight, Qualls decided to jump into the NFL draft. How high can he go, and what role would he fit best in?
- Has great size.
- Can win with leverage to stop the run.
- Space eater.
- Has played on the edge, the nose, and in a three-technique.
- Can move in space better than most at his size.
- Strong run defender.
- Doesn’t have great arm length, or the ability to extend and push away from blocks.
- Can get sucked into blocks.
- Not a pass rushing threat.
- Most likely a two-down player in the NFL.
- Could add more strength and take off some excess body fat.
- Not a great lateral mover.
NFL Comparison: David Parry
Teams with needs at position: Baltimore Ravens, Philadelphia Eagles, Atlanta Falcons, New Orleans Saints, Arizona Cardinals
Projection: fifth round
Qualls has played on the edge, and he has shown some quick feet, but he is not that versatile. His best bet is a one or three-technique, stuffing holes on the inside. Qualls does have quick feet, and with that can bring some leverage that gives him an ability to hold up, and take away running lanes. However, he doesn’t have the agility or passes rushing arsenal to stay on the field in obvious passing situations.
Qualls is a nice piece to have, but while he brought versatility in college, he should have the mindset of a specific role in the NFL. His upside is limited to a rotational starter, but if he can embrace his role, he can turn into a long-time NFL player.