Pros: A good athlete with a good first step, and is a nice straight-line pass rusher off the edge. Can make plays in pursuit. Is fluid in space and has experience working in coverage. Has good speed and can run.
Cons: Doesn't have the burst or quickness off the edge to turn the corner, and his size hurts him. Relies on his edge speed or a quick inside move, and lacks other pass rush moves. Doesn't disengage from blockers. Lacks instincts, awareness when he's asked to defend the run in space.
Overview: Hardy has been bothered by injuries the past two years, missing 8 games in total in the past two seasons. But he's been productive when he has played, combining for 23 sacks and 34.5 tackles for loss in the past three years where he's played in 28 games. He only has 13 career starts to his name, but has been productive off the bench for Ole Miss the past two years. Foot, ankle, and wrist injuries have limited him the past two years.
NFL Forecast: Hardy didn't really look as good as a senior as he did as a junior. While he has good quickness off the edge, I don't think even if fully healthy, he'll be a consistent impact rusher there. One could argue that he's regressed some as a pass rusher over the years. He is a good enough athlete to potentially play some linebacker, but he's not natural there and would struggle because he's not natural or instinctual when playing in space. I think he is basically a quicker version of Jamaal Anderson. I don't think he has a great motor, nor do I think he'll develop the necessary technique to be a consistent option off the edge. He'd probably work best bulking up and moving to the 3-4 where if he can add strength and develop a bull rush would be better there. He can play in the 4-3, but if people think he's going to be an impact pass rusher there I think they have another thing coming. He's fairly raw, and with his regression in recent years, and his inability to stay healthy, I would not be optimistic I could develop him. He's basically a boom/bust prospect that if he ever gets healthy can be a valuable role player to good starter, but doesn't show the necessary intangibles nor durability to be trustworthy.
ATL Forecast: Hardy on the Falcons would face the same issues that they face with developing Anderson. He's quicker than Anderson and would be a potential upgrade as a pass rusher, but he'd likely not be as good versus the run. And as a rush end, I doubt he'd live up to his potential. Hardy could contribute in the Falcons rotation, and could show occasional flashes of play-making ability, but would be too inconsistent and like Anderson doesn't seem to show the mental toughness to develop into a consistent impact player.
Value: Hardy has first round potential if you just look at his potential and production. But I wouldn't draft him until the third round because he's too much of a boom/bust prospect that I think tips more towards the bust side.
1-poor, 2-weak, 3-above average, 4-very good, 5-elite
PASS RUSH: 3.5
POINT OF ATTACK: 2.5
Scouting reports of defensive ends in the 2010 draft.
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