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Miami Hurricanes Football: DT RJ McIntosh Declares for the 2018 NFL Draft

Big 80 is taking his talents to the big league. Here is a first look at McIntosh as a prospect, as well as the fallout from his decision.

COLLEGE FOOTBALL: NOV 04 Virginia Tech at Miami Photo by Richard C. Lewis/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

Height: six-foot-four

Weight: 291 pounds

Class: Junior

High School: Cardinal Gibbons High School (Fort Lauderdale, Florida)

Draft Comparison: Tampa Bay Buccaneers DT Gerald McCoy (six foot four, 295 pounds)

RJ McIntosh declares for the NFL draft
RJ McIntosh’s Instagram page

Before the 2017 season, there was plenty of speculation that both of Miami’s defensive tackles could declare for the 2018 NFL Draft at the conclusion of the season. While it appeared then that DT Kendrick Norton was the more sure option, there was a segment of Miami’s fanbase that proclaimed that RJ McIntosh could be just as good of, if not a better, pro prospect. Well, pat yourselves on the back, because McIntosh has been that and more for the Hurricanes this season.

McIntosh made his draft intentions official on Monday, announcing that he would skip his senior season at Miami in order to become a member of the NFL fraternity. Peter Ariz of Canes Insight was first to break the news that both McIntosh and his fellow roommate at The U, Kendrick Norton, would declare their intentions to enter the 2018 NFL Draft.

COLLEGE FOOTBALL: NOV 18 Virginia at Miami Photo by Doug Murray/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

In his sophomore season, RJ McIntosh took a huge leap, becoming a full-time starter after playing sparingly on defense in his freshman season. Teaming up with Norton, both defensive tackles became a devastating duo in the defensive interior for the Hurricanes. For his part, McIntosh put together a season where he recorded 47 total tackles (24 solo), nine-and-a-half tackles for loss, two-and-a-half sacks, two pass breakups and two blocked kicks. To say that the Fort Lauderdale native came into his own in the 2016 season would be a gross understatement.

From the beginning of this past season, McIntosh has been among the biggest headaches for opposing offenses. The DT devoured most of the one-on-one matchups that he faced, and has the ability to split double-teams to influence the pocket. With 52 total tackles, tied for the team lead in tackles for loss with 12.5 and adding 2.5 sacks, McIntosh served as a one-man demolition crew when it came to opposing offensive gameplans. At the end of the season, McIntosh won the award for Miami’s Defensive MVP.

The first thing that jumps out at you when watching McIntosh, whether it’s his first step or get-off from the snap of the ball is his agility. McIntosh is quick enough to get by blockers and tackle the ball-carrier before the handoff is completed. It is one of the reasons why we compared him with Gerald McCoy who is also known for his excellent get-off at 3-technique in the NFL. Because of his quick twitch, McIntosh is able to immediately flash color in front of the ball carrier, forcing them to search for alternate escape routes as soon as they see that No. 80 bursting through the picket toward the mesh point.

While he is nowhere in the realm of Mr. Miyagi, McIntosh’s use of hands is impressive at the collegiate level. One of the more difficult questions a young defensive lineman faces when moving to the NFL is: what is your counter when your best stuff does not work? McIntosh makes sure to keep his hands free so that he can direct the blocker in front of him or disengage from the blocker to pursue the play should he wish. Part of the credit deservedly should go to UM defensive line coach, Craig Kuligowski, who has produced numerous top defensive line talent throughout his career.

The fine folks at Pro Football Focus have kept stats all season on prospects that are draft-eligible. McIntosh ranked among the best in the defensive interior when it came to defending the run. McIntosh put together a 2017 season where he rushed the passer on 295 snaps resulting in two sacks, four QB hits and 10 QB hurries. McIntosh is among the highest-graded draft eligible defensive tackles against the run. With 255 runs snaps, McIntosh has 32 tackles, 10 assists and just two missed tackles on the season.

One last thing that often does not get discussed when talking about interior defensive linemen is their pursuit on a given play. We’ve all heard the term ‘high motor’ attributed to players that give a prolonged effort on a given play, chasing after plays that are going as far away from them as possible. McIntosh not only gives a significant effort in chasing down plays toward the sidelines, but he also takes great pursuit angles that allow him to make a tackle for loss or to help secure a tackle for minimal gain.

Draft Projection

Similar to what RB Mark Walton has to deal with in a crowded room full of running backs, McIntosh finds himself part of a now oversaturated defensive tackle crowd. Based on his performance this season, I believe that McIntosh has the ability to move up the board more than any other Miami prospect this season with some solid workouts and interviews. Look for big No. 80 to come off the board anywhere in the second or third round.

Next Men Up

Losing one of McIntosh and Norton was a problem, the Hurricanes now have an issue at the defensive tackle spot. The good news is that Gerald Willis III is back and ready for the 2018 season. Freshman DT Jon Ford was able to get his feet wet this season, a good sign in the long run. Pat Bethel also made strides on the defensive interior in his first season after switching from defensive end to defensive tackle. Tyreic Martin is also listed as among the position group.